Rebel Rose is the history-infused Beauty and the Beast story you’ve been waiting for. Forget what you know of Beauty and the Beast and dive headfirst into a clever retelling of Belle and the Beast’s happily ever after.
Before delving into the nitty-gritty of Rebel Rose, it should be noted that there was one glaring difference between the Beauty and the Beast movie that we all know and love and Emma Theriault’s adaptation. Rather than the Beast being known as Prince Adam, his name is Prince Lio. It takes a few pages to get used to the change, but I promise you you will overcome it.
Theriault also does well with crafting a plausible scenario for how Aveyon is ruled by Prince Lio and not King Louis XVII, while acknowledging the difficulties related to explaining away his ten-year absence during the curse.
Some readers may take issue with the Rebel Rose interpretation of Belle, who reads like a more genuine history-based version of Belle. We see her come to terms with married life, balancing life as a commoner passing through a space she feels uncomfortable in, alongside the intricacies of Parisian court intrigue and demands.
Belle does not see herself as a future queen, which seems genuine to who she is. She cares more about doing right by her people, rather than getting involved with the grotesque indulgence of Versaille. That seems true to the Belle I grew up with. It is important to remember it’s 1789, Belle is a commoner, and an interloper in a male-dominated court system.
There was a rawness about Theriault’s approach to the marriage of Belle and Lio. They are both insecure, not only in their relationship but in their new lives. Belle feels out of place and swept aside in court life and Lio seems just as uncomfortable becoming King. But, fear not, there were plenty of kisses shared between the two to make your heart flutter.
Rebel Rose had so many little threads of storylines that I wanted to follow beyond the main plot. Theriault touched on Lio’s PTSD related to his time as the Beast, but she didn’t fully delve into it as much as I would have loved to see.
The plot of the novel is complex and at the risk of spoiling key elements, all I will say is that a familiar face returns in a surprising way and the French Revolution arrives in Aveyon with a vengeance.
Fans of Beauty and the Beast may find themselves divided about whether they love or hate Rebel Rose, but it makes for a great “what if” scenario. If Disney plans to dive into more history-based adaptions of fan-favorites, then we are in for a treat.
I look forward to future additions to The Queen’s Court and hope that there’s an opportunity to revisit the lives of Belle and Lio. You can pick up Rebel Rose (The Queen's Council, #1) hits shelves on November 10th.