Title: Belle Révolte
Author: Linsey Miller
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Released: February 4, 2020
Content Warnings: Sexism, classism, violence, descriptions of death and gore.
Representation: LGBTQIAP+; Sapphic & asexual main character, trans man love interest + several side characters that use they/them pronouns. POC; characters of colour, including a love interest. Poverty. Feminism.
Synopsis*: Emilie des Marais is more at home holding scalpels than embroidery needles and is desperate to escape her noble roots to serve her country as a physician. But society dictates a noble lady cannot perform such gruesome work.
Annette Boucher, overlooked and overworked by her family, wants more from life than her humble beginnings and is desperate to be trained in magic. So when a strange noble girl offers Annette the chance of a lifetime, she accepts.
Emilie and Annette swap lives—Annette attends finishing school as a noble lady to be trained in the ways of divination, while Emilie enrolls to be a physician’s assistant, using her natural magical talent to save lives.
But when their nation instigates a frivolous war, Emilie and Annette must work together to help the rebellion end a war that is based on lies.
The people of Demeine are rising up, and they won’t stop until they get their autonomy back.
We were all nothing but lightning in a bloody bottle.
Demeine has created a legacy built on the broken bodies of the poor.
Two young women with more power than they realise may be the key to bringing it all tumbling down.
I added another zero. What did it matter? Once people were this rich, numbers weren’t real anymore. Prices were just ideas.
Miller creates a world that is dark and unforgiving in its magic.
You can not control that much power without a cost and this really drives up the stakes. There’s often not too much of a risk that the magic the characters use could be what kills them from the inside out. Or maybe it just never felt as real as it did in this story.
I didn’t for a second trust that all characters would come out of the end of this story unscathed. Because Miller is right, and with Belle Revolte she reminds us that power corrupts, all power, even the magical kind we all have wished we had since picking up a Harry Potter book as children.
Demeine is a patriarchal society in the middle of a class war and it’s going to get bloody.
Belle Revolte is about rebellion and revolution and how the people, the working class, the poor, when joined together, have the power to really fuck shit up.
Power had a cost, but our folks were the ones who always had to pay it.
Okay, so here’s the thing…
I took like a month-long break from this book at the 16% mark. Not because of the book but because reading it wouldn’t get me points for a readathon I was doing and I have priorities in check obviously. And I think I benefitted from that.
The start was a bit hard to get through because the world is so complex and the magic is so intricate, it was confusing. It probably could have been explained better but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book too much so I’m not that bothered.
However, I did have trouble with the timeline of the story.
I am someone who loves multiple POVs but it wasn’t exactly very clear how much time there was between Emilie’s and Annette’s chapters and so I got a bit disoriented a few times.
“Who helped you?” a guard I hadn’t known was there asked.
I sobbed and laughed and threw myself back against the wall. “I helped myself because no one who was supposed to would.”
The whole scrying and divination thing did not help and I think mostly the reason for that is because the differences weren’t made very clear.
I didn’t know when each was happening until a character spelled it out but even then I got the feeling that Annette sometimes was divining without knowing it? It just was not clear enough and it muddied up parts of the stories that really needed the clarity because they were major plot points.
But the writing is straight up so good. It took me like three days to type up all the quotes I highlighted.
I hoard quotes like a dragon hoards gold.
Sometimes I hit a jackpot and getting so fucking excited and then realise how much work it’s created for me and start to question if I need to have a google doc copy of every favourite quote from every book I’ve ever fucking read.
Just so you know the google doc for the quotes of this book is 17 pages long. My fingers are cramped.
I’d cried too, but quiet, and pulled at my sides like I’d be able to pry open my ribs and scratch the hunger out of me.
I really love the found families trope, especially when it comes to LGBT+ characters and this was so well executed here! I loved all the characters so much and I just wanted more of them.
I love each of the characters so much, I love how different Emilie and Annette are but they still have enough common ground so that their friendship makes sense. I loved seeing a mirror image of the girls’ friendship in Estrel and Laurence.
Like I need a book about those two stat Linsey, please!!!!!!!
If you are amendable to helping, please touch your right hand to your nose. If you aren’t, thank you very much for the money and education. You’re dead to me.
“A bit much,” I whispered and touched my nose. “Point taken, however.”
I loved both of the main relationships so freaking much. They were so cute and god the yearning and tenderness and banter.
Honestly, I’m not doing this part of the book justice, this was one of the biggest highlights for me but I always struggle to describe how I feel about characters when I love them this much.
“I don’t know how to explain that I care about other people’s well-being.”
I just loved being able to read a quality high fantasy book about a bunch of queer teens trying to save their nation from tyrannical fuck face.
Basically what I’m saying is I want all the same stories that the straights have had this entire time but I want them done better and I want them gay as hell. And it’s literally homophobic that we aren’t getting that good good shit until now.
“You cannot fix a decript house while standing inside of it. You must tear the house down and start again, though it is useful to get help and resources from insde the house first.”
*Taken from Goodreads.
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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.
Grey Recommends – Fantasy & Found Families
🍃 Vicious: A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers.
🍃 The Raven Boys: Even if Blue hadn’t been told her true love would die if she kissed him, she would stay away from boys. Especially the ones from the local private school. Known as Raven Boys, they only mean trouble.
🍃 Every Heart a Doorway: Eleanor Wests Home for Wayward Children
This really is the perfect time to read Belle Révolte.
Have you read it yet?
What are your favourite tropes?
What are your favourite books about revolutions?