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.Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller
February 4th, 2020
Reviewing fantasy books usually has me saying, “Oh, no…” but Belle Révolte had me cheering “Oh, hell yes!” the entire time.
When a book’s first chapter starts with the line, “My mother did not shackle me despite my last escape attempt” you immediately fall in love with that character, Emilie, and the book. Then, when the next chapter starts off with the line, “I ate dirt as a child” you feel bad for ever loving anyone else before you met Annette. This story of Emilie and Annette switching lives in order to study the magic they are connected to is the epitome of what every switched identity story should be.
Emilie de Marais is a very well-off noble that has more money than she knows what to do with, but she wants to prove that a person who helps by getting their hands dirty can help more than money can. She wants to study healing magic regardless of the tole it will take on her body. She’s what would happen if the “billionaire with a heart of gold” character actually did something for once instead of just throwing money at a problem until it goes away. That’s what makes Emilie, not only shine, but grow as a character as well as in your heart.
Now, Annette Boucher. Enough cannot be said about Annette Boucher and how great she is. There are no words that can prove how great Annette is better than the ones that Linsey Miller has already written. She dreams of a greater life for herself just like everyone else, except because of her socioeconomic standing, she has to work harder than anyone else. That is, until Emilie de Marais gives her the shot to prove how great she is. They switch lives and find themselves in worlds they have never experienced before.
Obviously the whole story is not just about Emilie and Annette. There’s plenty of other amazing characters that make you wish you were living in a world where the rebellious Laurel was attempting to overthrow a cruel king. Whether it’s Annette’s roommates, Coline and Isabelle, or Emilie’s classmates, Charles, Rainer, and Madeline, you’re going to wish that they were your roommates and classmates. Not only are they all incredibly funny and sincere, and feel like they deserve their own books (hint-hint wink-wink Linsey Miller, please?) but they also make you feel like you are in the world with them.
Linsey Miller crafts a beautiful story of magic, sacrifice, and identity. This story is about more than rebellions to overthrow the corrupt rich and asking the question, “What would you sacrifice for the ones you love?” Belle Révolteexplores what it really means to define yourself and your own destiny. Emilie proves that you do not need to follow others blindly. Emilie shows how people can truly make waves of change in the world through the smallest acts of independence and persistence. Meanwhile, Annette shows how no matter one’s roots, you decide what you want to grow to be. Annette’s story is one of defiance of fate and the strength of determination. Through this story, they both have many chances to quit. They have many chances to give up and live the lives they are expected to, but they do not. Emilie and Annette are more than amazing magical characters, they are inspirations of how you can overcome anything.
I could not properly write a review of this book without talking about the magic. In Belle Révolte, in order to do magic, there are physical sacrifices made by the caster. How frickin’ cool is that? Like if you want to heal someone’s broken arm, it’s going to burn the skin on your arm and your arm is going to hurt for days or weeks. So, now think about it. One of the characters, Emilie the rich girl, decides she WANTS to perform this kind of magic. Are you kidding me? She has the money to have people perform that magic for her, but she wants to be that caster, that healer, for other people.
Why is that important? (Other than the obvious fact that this is a fantasy novel so, like, how the magic works is kind of like a major aspect of the story?) The rich and well-off casters, in the world of Belle Révolte, use the poor casters to make the sacrifices needed to cast magic. What? Yeah, you read that correctly. The rich feed off the poor magically in order to cast spells and no, the rich aren’t all like Emilie. So, I’m sure you can see where that might be a problem for some like those of the rebellious group known as Laurel.
This book is one of those books that you want everyone to read so you can talk to them about how awesome it is and how emotionally painful it was for you. It’s also the type of book, that if your Dungeons and Dragons party has read it, will understand the choices you’re making for your new character that you just had to play as. As a person who normally loves contemporary stories and stays away from even the slightest hint of magic, unless it’s satirical, this book had me hooked from the beginning and left me demanding more. And yes, that’s also as a person who hates series and yet is begging Linsey Miller for more books in the Belle Révolte universe.
If you like books about friendship, identity, queer love (yeah I didn’t even mention that because this book has everything), rebellions, magic, war, royalty, and diverse characters then pick this up. And if none of that tickles your fancy, then also pick it up because this book is so beautifully written you’ll find yourself wanting to read more fantasy books about awesome magical worlds.
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Maureen Johnson is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several YA novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlett, The Name of the Star, and Truly Devious. She has also done collaborative works, such as Let It Snow with John Green and Lauren Myracle (now on Netflix), and several works in the Shadowhunter universe with Cassandra Clare. Her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Guardian, and she has also served as a scriptwriter for EA Games. She has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and lives in New York City.
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