Rebel Rose, written by Emma Theriault and published by Disney Hyperion, was released in November 2020. The book is the first installment of the “Queen’s Council” series, which will focus on various Disney princesses as they rise to their queendom and their journeys along the way. This book focuses on Belle, from the Disney film Beauty and the Beast, as she takes on becoming queen while dealing with the political struggles happening in France during 1789. Belle must find a way to balance several aspects of her new life as she becomes more involved with events near the beginning of the French Revolution.
One of the highlights from Rebel Rose is that it’s more than just a typical continuation of a Disney story. Various other Disney princesses have had their own books or other media that have told stories about what happened after the main story. What sets this book apart from others is that it places Belle in a position that shows that her character is more than just a love story. Rebel Rose is for the fans of Belle’s character from the original film who were intrigued by her strength, pure heart, and her willing determination to do what’s right. As a long-time fan of the original film, I was delighted that this continuation didn’t take away any of the attributes that made Belle such an incredible character.
However, Rebel Rose does an incredible job making Belle stand out even more than how she did in the original film. There’s much more depth to her character, which is shown in the form of her constant struggle throughout the book. Belle is put in a difficult position to deal with her own guilt of going from a common peasant to the princess of Aveyon. She also does her best to support her husband as he deals with his own anxiety caused by what he’s lived through. Some instances make Belle wary of who she can really trust since not everyone supports her to rise to power. These and other situations shape Belle into a much more fleshed out character than just leaving it up to a person’s imagination as to what happens to her after the end of the original film.
I’ve only recently begun to get more into historical fiction, and after reading Rebel Rose, it’s a genre I’ll surely read more of. With the story of the book taking place a few months after the film, it could be possible that some readers might worry as to how aspects of history would be added and how accurate they would be. However, it’s evident from the first few chapters of the book that Theriault did heavy research on French history. From aspects of the French Revolution and the state of France’s finances, after they supported America in their own revolution, it was fascinating to learn more about another country’s history. I expected that there would be basic aspects of history but was quite pleased with the detail that went into incorporating historical elements. By the end of the book, readers wouldn’t have to wonder if the story and characters of Beauty and the Beast actually happened in real life.
One of the rather unfortunate elements of Rebel Rose is the fact that it isn’t necessarily an action-driven story. Several moments dragged on too long, which disrupted the overall flow of the book at times. It wasn’t until the final chapters where the story began to ramp up. Some of the moments that dragged on included many political themes, which some readers may not be quite excited to read about. The plot synopsis on the book’s cover was misleading since readers could be led to believe that Belle would have a larger role in terms of how the revolution would affect Aveyon and its people.
As stated above, Rebel Rose is the first installment in the “Queen’s Council” series. While it’s exciting that Belle could make a return in a future book, it begs the question as to how she will be portrayed in future installments. With the other books in the series being written by different authors, it’s valid to worry about how much Belle’s character could be changed to fit a certain narrative. Even though I will surely be checking out the other books in the series as they are released, I hope Belle’s character development is added upon rather than altered for the worse.
Overall, I quite enjoyed reading Rebel Rose and was surprised with its overall story. Adding more to what happens after Belle’s “happily ever after” in a way that adds depth to her character is incredible. It says more about who she is rather than a beloved children’s character. The elements of history and fiction were blended well together. At no point did the historical elements feel out of place, nor did they feel like not enough research went into them. However, several moments of the book felt like they dragged on for a while, which broke the overall flow of the plot. There also weren’t enough action-driven plot points, which only made the story drag on a lot more. Ultimately, Rebel Rose is for fans of the original Beauty and the Beast film and historical fiction fans.
Rebel Rose is now available for purchase wherever books are sold.
Overall, I quite enjoyed reading Rebel Rose and was surprised with its overall story. Adding more to what happens after Belle’s “happily ever after” in a way that adds depth to her character is incredible. It says more about who she is rather than a beloved children’s character. The elements of history and fiction were blended well together… However, several moments of the book felt like they dragged on for a while, which broke the overall flow of the plot. There also weren’t enough action-driven plot points, which only made the story drag on a lot more.