THE QUEEN’S COUNCIL: REBEL ROSE, by Emma Theriault, Disney-Hyperion, Nov. 10, 2020, Hardcover, $18.99 (young adult)
Disney princesses are a big business, but they’re not as one-dimensional as they used to be. Case in point, Emma Theriault’s Rebel Rose, which follows Belle after she saves the Beast.
It’s 1789 and France is on the brink of revolution. Belle has finally broken the Enchantress’s curse, restoring the Beast to his human form as Prince Adam, and bringing life back to their castle in the province of Aveyon. But in Paris, the fires of change are burning, and it’s only a matter of time before the rebellion arrives on their doorstep.
Belle has always dreamed of leaving her provincial home for a life of adventure. But now she finds herself living in a palace, torn between her roots as a commoner, and her future as a royal. When she stumbles across a mysterious, ancient magic that brings with it a dire warning, she must question whether she is ready for the power being thrust on her, and if being Queen is more than just a title. —Synopsis provided by Disney-Hyperion
Rebel Rose is the first book in Disney-Hyperion’s Queen’s Council series. This YA historical fantasy series reimagines Disney Princesses as rulers coming into power, aided by a mysterious force that weaves between their individual stories. Each story will be written by a different author.
In fact, it’s the historical aspects that really bring Rebel Rose to life. There are nods throughout the novel to the Disney tale (more to the live-action than animated version) that give readers a sense that the stories are linked, but Rebel Rose is so much more vibrant. Here, you get to see the world off-screen. You begin to understand why people act the way they do. The world doesn’t end at the border of Aveyon. More than once during my reading, I found myself wishing Belle’s original story could get the same treatment.
While the historical moments really make the book, Belle’s evolution (or lack thereof) is less exciting. Belle doesn’t want to change, and because of that, she makes so great and not so great decisions. While I was rooting for her, I also found myself missing the spunk she showed in the movies.
While enjoyable, Rebel Rose could be better. Integrating it into what came before isn’t without hiccups — again, this is where a prequel would be helpful. Most of the magical elements people love are sort of brushed aside with a stark before and after.
Despite my issues, I became fully immersed in Rebel Rose. I have high hopes for the Queen’s Council series, and I look forward to reading more Disney stories set in history.