Cover Image: Belle Révolte

Belle Révolte

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Member Reviews

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!

Belle Révolte is truly and wonderfully put, an empowering book. It exemplifies the struggles that Emilie and Annette face beautifully as girls in a world that challenges them at every turn, where the system of magic is so rich and fascinating that it will keep you stuck to the page. I believe that this novel is a lovely example of what we, as people, can do to in order to follow our dreams in a system that defies us. Belle Révolte honors delicate topics seamlessly and truly immerses you in a world where there is rebellion and magic behind every door. I enjoyed it in its entirety. (Plus ace representation and a trans side character!) 

I would highly recommend this book to those who have enjoyed An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley and The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi.
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TW: death, war, description of body parts and surgeries, gendered society and magic system (challenged throughout the novel)

Before I start this, I do want to say I overall enjoyed it. I’m definitely going to reread this physically once it comes out, as I feel I can better understand it and appreciate it with the ability to go back and remind myself of character names and take my time while not feeling 

The world-building was unique and easy to understand, as it is a binary, gendered magic system that is called out throughout the book. The noonday arts are considered men’s work and involve healing and fighting magic while the midnight arts are women’s magic, including illusionary arts, scrying, and divination.

Annette and Emilie were very strong characters. It’s a rushed beginning to their meeting and deciding to swap lives, but their personalities come out afterward, with Annette being anxious and worried about her abilities with magic and Emilie being ambitious and ready to prove herself as the best. 

Both sets of friendships were great and some of my favorite parts were of Annette being with her friends. 

The two main relationships are m/f with the love interest being a trans man and f/f with the main character being biromantic asexual. Several side and background characters are trans and nonbinary.

Issues of classism and gender roles are handled throughout the novel in a way I really liked. 

My main issue with this was pacing. Events seemed to happen with little build-up. I can kind of understand this as this is a standalone, but some aspects of the main characters journey felt rushed. For example, the decision to swap lives is made in the first chapter. I think with more space to allow events to happen, I would’ve liked it even more. 

I think maybe making the book longer would’ve allowed for parts of the story to be fleshed out, but I think it’s still a solid standalone. The pacing isn’t so egregious that I think it needed a whole second book. 

This was a unique standalone fantasy that tackles real world issues that I feel I could enjoy even more with a reread.
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The Princess Switch but make it Fantasy.
 
I wanted to like Belle Revolte more than I did. Yes, please to all the f/f and diversity. But I couldn't get into the story. A couple chapters in and I was bored. I unfortunately had a hard time telling the main characters apart too and I'm a big fan of mutli-narratives. I also never really understood the magic system. It didn't make sense to me. 
I think others will like this book, it just didn't live up to the hype in my opinion.
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This was an interesting and surprising read. I love all the LGBT+ rep in a fantasy. The story focuses on our two main girls who both want more from the life they have. An opportunity presents itself and they take a chance to switch identities to pursue their dreams. 

This is a standalone fantasy which was breath of fresh air. My only problem though is with the pacing. Being that it is a standalone things move incredibly fast and trying to learn about the magic of this world alongside the history of the rebels and kingdom could and would become a bit confusing. Other than the characters were very dynamic and interesting especially side characters. 

I highly recommend.
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Without spoilers, there is bi-romantic ace and trans representation in this book, a f/f relationship and racial and economic diversity. Viewpoints are challenged, heads are butted, and characters grow. Characters are presented in a human and honest way, most of them chafing against the boundaries of their assigned roles and trying to figure out a way to be authentically themselves in a rigid society. 
Emilie, born into an incredibly privileged family, ends up confronted with realities that she had not been aware of before. While she tries her best, she commits blunders and mistakes due to her naiveté, but to her credit, she learns from her mistakes and grows immensely as a person. Similarly, Annette has a lot of her own growth to do. The side characters, such as Madeline, Coline, Laurence and Estrel, or Charles are no less nuanced. They all have to let go of preconceived notions in order to realize what is happening on around them and truly band together.  
The nation is in shambles, and a mysterious figure calling themselves Laurel is causing uproar. Over the course of the story, it becomes clear that there is more to the war happening than the people are aware of, and that their king is privy to insidious goings-on. So who or what is Laurel, and what is the change they are promising?
Belle Révolte is extremely well written, gripping and will not let you go. It is a book that hit all my soft spots and made me fall in love with it.
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**Review to be posted on my blog on 1/23/20**

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

Belle Revolte is set in a French inspired world where magic use is known as the noonday arts and the midnight arts. Emilie a noble girl wants to be a physician but only men can aspire to that profession. So Emilie swaps lives with Annette a commoner who wants to elevate her station by studying the midnight arts. Emilie sneaks away to learn noon day arts and train as a physician as a rebellion is growing in their kingdom. The rebellion is lead by someone named Laurel. They find out that everyone who is in the rebellion is called Laurel and they are ready to change things for their kingdom.

Which side will Emilie and Annette take in this rebellion and will they see their dreams become reality?

What I Like:

*The magic system in this book was interesting, to a point. We have the noonday arts which is used by soldiers and physician. The magic is used for fighting and healing. Midnight arts is used for divination and scrying among other things. The midnight arts is in some form usually present in other fantasy books with a magic system but the noonday arts was somewhat different. I thought the medical training Emilie undertakes was more fascinating than the usual midnight arts. I can see why she says the noonday arts changes lives – especially in that sense.

*There is trans and ace (asexual) representation in this book and honestly, I think this is the first young adult fantasy I’ve read with asexual representation! There is some romance in the book, but this story is not romance driven.

*Strong female characters are featured in this book which is always great. We have Annette and Emilie trying to make their dreams a reality. Emilie especially in her male dominated field but Annette takes a big risk as well posing as a noblewoman.

Things That Made Me Go Hmm:

*The beginning of the book kept me interested but by the middle I felt my attention waning. The magic system didn’t keep me interested, they either had magic for healing or fighting and magic for divination and scrying. We see how Annette and Emilie use it to help in time of war but other than that…I’m not sure there was anything else special about it.

*I’m all for the life swapping trope, it’s a chance to have someone on the other side experience a different role and life, some good, some bad. But I felt no connection to the characters. It was a life swap but not a name swap – I think it threw me off a little. Annette was posing as Emilie and being called Emilie. But Emilie was still Emilie, but with Annette’s last name! So…they were both Emilie. 😟

*Triggers: War, death

Final Thoughts:

The story of two girls trying to change their fate and a kingdom on the verge of revolution is inspiring. Unfortunately I failed to connect to the characters and I lost interest midway into the book. Despite my experience, I think others will enjoy this story very much.
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Thank you Sourcebooks for the ARC. This book was wonderfully written and super entertaining. The story focuses on two girls ( Emilie and Annette) who trade places so that they can follow their dreams. However while chasing their dreams both girls discover that a revolution is coming and they both have to decide if they will stand on the right side of history even though that may cost them everything they have worked so hard to achieve.

I loved Linsey Miller’s Mask of Shadows duo and was super excited to read this book and let me tell you it didn’t disappoint. The book was just as diverse as Mask as Shadows. This is the first time I’ve ever read a YA fantasy with an Ace character and I thought it was important for representation how Linsey Miller actually had the ace character explain how attraction works for her.
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I've previously read Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller, and the sequel is currently sat on my TBR waiting for me to read it (I try not to think too hard about the inescapable crush of my owned TBR...), so I knew a little bit about what I was getting into. Mask of Shadows was gloriously 'ya' and the concept of Belle Révolte seemed to hint at a similar familiarity. know some people really aren't here for 'tropey' young adult fiction (or just fantasy fiction for any age), but personally, I find that if I read other things interspersed I often find that familiarity of a trope to be a comforting presence. 

The main thing I will say about this book is that it asks quite a lot of you right at the start. When I read the premise I assumed that a good portion of the book would be taken up with building the relationship between these two girls and then the swap would happen, if not that, then perhaps there would be a presupposed relationship between the two of them, the building blocks of which would have happened before the book even started.

Nope.

I don't think it'll spoil the book for you (it happens within the first few pages)to say that essentially Emilie gets out of her carriage, finds a girl who is similar looking and they swap lives just like that. That's essentially it for the setup, the book requires you to just sort of nod and smile and pretend that you can't see any potential issues with that idea. Personally, I was able to do that and just let the actual plot of the book happen - but if you don't think that's something you can do then I'd suggest leaving this book for now. 

If you can suspend disbelief for just a little bit, I think you'll get to read a very fun and interesting YA fantasy novel. Yes, it is tropey, but it also talks about some themes which I always love to see in YA, dismantling power structures, imbalance of gender, privilege and so forth. Does it take place in a world where there are two kinds of magic and of course they are named after the sun and the moon - yes of course it does! Did I mind? Not so much!

I can't think of too many other YA fantasy novels that have crossed my radar where the main character wanted to become a doctor/healer. I know often they are, or they have healing powers or some such, but I found I could connect to Emilie's desire to learn and to comprehend and to help people, just as I could connect to Annette's sense of being a misfit, of feeling like a constant failure. I appreciated that, while this was a 'life swap' scenario, the two girls aren't pitted as polar opposites, the story acknowledges their similarities as much as their differences.

The plot of this book, unsurprisingly, focusses in on war and revolution in the country (that is probably not France...) in which these girls are living. Initially, I wondered if I would get that dissonance you get in books that start in peace and go into the war (not necessarily a bad thing, look at The Poppy War) but actually, it's a fairly smooth transition, largely because one character remains in one place. 

If you know the plot to Mask of Shadows you'll know that it's USP is that the main character is gender fluid. With that in mind, I thought there would probably be some kind of gender non-conforming representation in this book too - especially in a world where the magic is primarily split by gender. Happily I can say there is trans representation in this book. Much like in Mask of Shadows it's a 'here is this character who happens to be trans' as opposed to any kind of brutal outing as emotional fuel for the book. I appreciated the discussion of gender in the book - it was a happy addition to the story. 

Mostly I thought this was a fun, fast-paced read. I will say that I feel it was perhaps a little too short. In order to properly develop some of those key concepts, as well as the ending (which also fell a little flat for me) I almost feel as though you could have added a third to the length of the book. Perhaps then it would have dragged, but I think that some more time to dwell on finer details would have been pertinent.

My rating: 4/5 stars

I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own. 

Belle Révolte publishes February 1st!
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I was super excited to read this. I loved the queer rep and the premise of the story. I haven’t read a good swapping places story in a while and in that sense, this did pique my interest. But I had trouble following the writing. It just didn’t flow very well for me. The characters were great, especially Emilie. But there were times what it moved too fast for me to really get the grasp on character development and pace. This is a stand-alone book and still deserves to be checked out due to the fact that the representation of women being able to fully excel in a world where they are looked at as less was really great! I look forward to reading more from this author!
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DNF at 20%

Sadly, this one just wasn't working for me! The concept sounded super fun and I thought it could be a good one to snuggle up with and tear through in a weekend, but I just couldn't get into it.

The pacing was completely off -- within the first 5%, Emilie is running out of her carriage and proposing to swap places with a complete and total stranger who looks like her so she can study medicine. It all happens so fast it was just completely unbelievable -- I felt like I was missing a big chunk of backstory or something that would make me invested in this decision and why these girls were taking such a huge risk. Then, the pacing slows to a halt and I really struggled to stay invested in the story.

I'm a big stickler for worldbuilding and magic and both felt incredibly messy to me. It just didn't seem to make much sense!

I wanted to love this, but it just wasn't for me.
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I was selected through NetGalley to receive an early copy of Belle Révolte, so that I could write a review!

Two girls, separated by wealth and desires but united by the physical similarities they share.  Emilie wants desperately to go to university to study to become a physician, who channels noonday magic to heal the injured and sick.  Her noble mother has strictly forbidden it, however, as the channeling of magic can have dangerous affects.  Instead, she is sent to boarding school, where she will learn the art of midnight magic, which is used to create illusions and scry distant places.  On her way to the school, she runs into a girl bearing a passable resemblance to her, and a plan is struck.  Annette comes from a peasant family, and has been taught to underestimate herself constantly.  When she is offered the chance to study at a boarding school and hone the magic she already possesses she cannot pass it up.  Both girls are at great risk, for if they are caught, the punishment could be dire.

Lindsey Miller is one of my favorite fantasy authors, because of her frequent and diverse LGBTQ representation and her complex story lines!  Belle Révolte is her latest novel, which boasts a cast inclusive of asexual, lesbian, and trans identities, all of which could we could use significantly more of in fantasy.  I really loved the dual perspective used in the story too, and the ways that the two girls lives interweave to create a full story

You can get your copy of Belle Révolte on February 4th from Sourcefire Books!  

My Recommendation-
If you are seeking to diversify your fantasy reads, Belle Révolte is an amazing choice.  If you love stories of magic, revolution and female perseverance, you will be delighted by Belle Révolte.  If you love Natasha Ngan or Marie Lu, Lindsey Miller’s books will be an excellent fit.
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I was predisposed to like this but instead I found it fairly predictable. Those who enjoy fantasy tropes will enjoy this. I really couldn't get past  the noble protagonist having a last name of "swamps"
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This book kind of snuck up on me. At first I wasn’t connecting to the two main characters. They were meant to look similar, which allowed them to swap roles, but one was a commoner raised in poverty and one a noble raised in luxury. They should have been quite different personality wise but I could not tell them apart most of the time. I would forget which was which, a problem that was compounded by each taking the name of the other. Everything from their attitudes to their language seemed the same. I really wanted to love this book but I was worried that it was not going to be the story for me. Then rather suddenly I found myself teary at an emotional death scene and realized I was completely engaged and involved. I don’t know how it happened but by the last quarter I loved it! I never did really connect with the main characters but the secondary ones stole my heart and they are what made the story for me.

The inclusion of transgender and asexual characters was a breath of fresh air and the romantic relationships were perfection. I don’t generally like romance to be the focus and I found it to be done just right in this one. Not too much and not too little. While love is in the air, for the most part it is war and danger that is in the air. This is truly a story about girls fighting for the power that is denied to them and changing their world for the better. This is a stand-alone so in the end everything is wrapped up and resolved. It all happens rather quickly and neatly but I was satisfied with the conclusion. Belle Révolte is an entertaining and dare I say inspiring fantasy that should please anyone who delights in watching strong female characters get their due and causing the fall of the patriarchy. And really who doesn’t want to see that?

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for providing an Electronic Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley for review.
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Girls - romance - trans - reformation
This story revolves around two girls who would to pursue each others career.  So they switch places and become a part of something larger.  I liked the concept of magic but in a lot of places I couldn't particularly understand certain magical terminologies.  I wanted to feel so much for the girls but I just simply couldn't care more for them or their actions/consequences.  The ending was rushed and I couldn't agree to certain decisions/actions.  The book has a great plot but the writing didn't sit with me.  I really tried to love this book!
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Belle Révolte takes two very different young women, both of whom have ambitious dreams, and sets them in a society which places those goals out of their reach. But with an impulsive 'Prince and the Pauper' style swap, both Emilie and Annette put themselves on a path to excelling in their chosen fields: Emilie becomes a physician’s assistant and Annette studies divination. However, political unrest soon draws both girls into something far bigger than either had bargained for.

Although the names and settings seem heavily influenced by revolutionary France, Belle Révolte is high fantasy and not historical fiction. I'm also pleased to spot a standalone fantasy novel, as they seem less common than series. I'm especially pleased the Belle Révolte works perfectly within the single book: it didn't feel like the story had been condensed or cut short.

I loved the characters, both the two driven protagonists and the diverse supporting cast in each girls side of the story. All the characters felt well developed and complex. Emilie and Annette, especially, were characters you wanted to root for and both were charming and relatable in their own unique ways.

There were a few spots in the books where I felt there were a few minor pacing issues, but the strong, appealing characters and the unique political and dual magic systems made Belle Révolte a compelling and exciting read.

A really enjoyable read and one I'd thoroughly recommend.
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Miller's Belle Révolte takes a familiar premise - characters switching places - and hits the ground running.

Privileged noble Emilie des Marais has never been one for needlework, illusions, and fancy gowns. She's interested in medicine and the traditionally "masculine" healing arts, and is willing to give her noble title to a complete stranger so she can sneak away and go learn. Annette Boucher isn't sure why anyone would trade a life of comfort to step into her shoes, but taking Emilie's spot at a fancy finishing school will allow her to meet an idol of her, so she quickly agrees to the switch.

Emilie is quickly confronted with her privilege and has to reassess what she's been taught. Annette learns confidence, and wants to use Emilie's borrowed influence to make things better for the lower class. But there's not much time for them to figure their new selves out - their country is at the brink of war, and each will fight in their own way.

Kudos to Miller for solid trans and ace representation, and making good use of her non-writing job history to make Emilie's medical scenes feel quite real.

The downside here is that the plot is very, very quick; we don't get to know our characters deeply. I would have liked a bit more setup before the switch, and I also feel like there's a missed opportunity for us to explore Emilie and her barely-mentioned father, to make certain plot elements resonate more. But all in all, Miller's an author with interesting ideas, and I'll happily read more by her in the future.
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A gender swapped Prince and the Pauper retelling with ace and trans representation set in a French inspired fantasy world. The synopsis hints at political intrigue and a magical journey of self-revelation for two girls with magical powers bound by a fate they do not accept. 

Emilie is a woman of noble birth  bound by societal norms and her family's wishes to study the midnight arts at a prestigious boarding school where she will hone her skills at divination, scrying, and illusion crafting. Midnight artistry is generally considered the fairer of the two magical specialties  as it is less taxing on the body to channel and is not required on the battlefield. The noonday arts, in contrast, are reserved for more gruesome tasks like surgery and combat medicine and are taken up by hardened soldiers and commonfolk. Emilie is dead-set on being a noonday artist despite her name and title. On the day that she is to enroll at school, she happens upon a commoner by the name of Annette who is too poor to afford the midnight school that she desperately wishes to attend, and a swap is made. 

Unfortunately the execution of the premise ultimately falls flat for me. The writing style was difficult for me to get through because the sentence structure was choppy and lacked a natural rhythm. I found myself  completely thrown off by the syntax and had to re-read paragraphs frequently. Both of the main characters as well as the secondary characters lacked depth and sounded very similar. I couldn't get a grasp on the characters' motivations and just didn't feel emotionally connected to their plight.

I really wanted to enjoy this read because the premise sounded fresh and interesting. Unfortunately it just didn't resonate with me.

Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read a digital copy in exchange for an unbiased review.
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I have very mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I absolutely loved the concept: a gender-swapped Prince and the Pauper with a unique magic system, as well as an asexual main character. On the other hand, I did find the world difficult to get into, especially considering it is a standalone, so all the world-building was done in this book. However, there wasn't very much world-building at all, and I found myself very detached from the politics of the world and what was going on with the monarchy.
Furthermore, the magic system, while very unique and initially interesting, was very strange and limited. There are noonday arts, which encompass healing and battle, and the midnight arts, which encompass divination and scrying. This seemed to be all the magic present in the world, and it was all incorporated into daily life, with universities and finishing schools dedicated to studying these arts.
The two main characters were very hard to distinguish in terms of their voice: Emilie is nobility, being forced by her mother to study the midnight arts while she actually wants to study the noonday arts. Annette is a commoner who wants to study the midnight arts but has to apprentice herself to a practitioner of the noonday arts in order to survive. When Emilie sees Annette outside her carriage, she offers to switch lives with her. The thing I most enjoyed about the book was that while Emilie and Annette don't spend much time in person, they communicate through Annette's scrying and form a bond. 
However, my problems with the book mostly stemmed from the confusing, limited magic system, as well as the overarching conflict concerning different kingdoms. I didn't find the history behind these conflicts very illuminating when considering the situation as it is at the beginning of the book. I also absolutely hated every character besides Emilie, Annette, and Yvonne. All of the other characters were either annoying or predictable.
I'm rating this 3/5 stars because while I really wanted to love this book, I just didn't.
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Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller was high on my list of books coming out in 2020 that I was excited to read. I didn’t even realize until I was already reading it that there was queer and ace representation, which was a pleasant surprise. It’s a modernized, fantasy twist on the classic Prince and the Pauper tale.

TRIGGER WARNING: Gore

The story takes place in a French-inspired world, and there are strict class and gender roles. Noble women are generally limited to practicing illusions, scrying, and divination, which fall under the midnight arts. Healing and fighting are practiced using the noonday arts, and are generally learned by males and the nobles. Since strong magic significantly shorts the lifespan of practitioners, noonday artists frequently make use of hacks, or commoners who are trained as apprentices, used for their skills, and then discarded.

I really wanted to love this book, but I was underwhelmed by it. The descriptions of the elaborate dresses and decadent foods evoked a sense of Marie Antionette-era France with added magic. I had a difficult time connecting with the characters. The vast majority of the characters were difficult to keep straight — there were many who weren’t fleshed out, and were so one dimensional that I could barely recall their names.

As for the main characters, I was surprised to see no discernible difference in the voice between two different girls who were raised on completely different ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. I’d expect patterns of speech, word choices, and mannerisms to be different. They weren’t. 

The magic system was a little confusing, and it only got worse as the book went on. The writing was awkward, and this is just something that bothered me, but the characters were frequently described as sniffing. I’m not sure what the sniffs were meant to convey, but it was something that occurred far too often for my taste. 

Finally, the pacing just felt off to me. I found the first quarter of the book to be interminably slow and boring. There really wasn’t much happening during this part of the book, and I just couldn’t really form any connection to the characters. The story picked up a bit, although I still wasn’t overly invested. The pace was rushed at the end, and the entire story was lacking in suspense for the most part. Everything wrapped up in a hurry, and it felt very oversimplified.
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Honestly The book felt rushed from the start while also feeling a bit too wordy if that's even possible. It was a bummer because it had potential and I was excited to give it a shot since it reminded me of the Belles and I greatly enjoyed that book (not so much the sequel but that's another story) The book could have been a great one but too much was forced in right from the start to jump start the plot when in reality it could have flowed a little better. The first chapter alone felt like everything but the kitchen sink was tossed in so there didn't need to be anymore outside characters or exposition. It was disappointing.
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