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January 30, 2020

Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller ~ a Review

by MK French

Noonday arts is used in fighting and healing gruesome wounds while the midnight arts are comprised of illusions, divination, and scrying. The divide between the magic types are gender locked, but Emilie des Marais is determined to become a physician rather than a society lady as befitting her station as a Comtesse. When she sees a girl that looks very similar to her en route, they swap places so she can go to university. Annette Boucher does have magic and does want the chance to study the midnight arts. The world around them would never give a peasant girl a chance like this, especially when there is a rebellion brewing in the kingdom and it's on the brink of war.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

February 2020; Sourcebooks Fire; Sourcebooks Fire
ebook, print (384 pages); YA fantasy
Belle Révolte has just as much detail in the world-building as Linsey's first novel Mask of Shadows (read my review here). Excessive use of magic would burn out the user physically and mentally, especially if large amounts of it were channeled at once. Because of this, women were generally forbidden from using the noonday arts out of fear it would wear out their bodies and render them infertile. Most of the nobility would use other people to channel magic through, known as hacks; these people were generally commoners, and would be used up sooner than the nobles would be. This is one of the founding tenets of the opposition to the crown, that the people shouldn't be used up and discarded just because they weren't wealthy.

While we have the requisite chapters of their training, there is still a kingdom at large outside of the finishing school and the university. The flyers posted and the rumors circulating at times ease us into the political stances, and both Emilie and Annette actually get drawn into the movement. Both want to help others around themselves and are ambitious enough to want to be known and make a difference within the kingdom. Magic involves sacrifice, after all, and they want to make sure theirs was worth the effort. As actual war breaks out, both of the girls push their efforts further to save the peasants from being used up and discarded so that nobles wouldn't die that much sooner. It's a much darker reality than either were prepared to see, and both decide spontaneously to do the right thing, no matter the cost to themselves.

Just as in her other novels, Linsey has a diverse cast of characters. We have trans characters (one explicitly explaining that, another that is always referred to as they/them), women falling in love with other women, and an asexual character that isn't treated as less than because there is no interest in anything beyond kissing. Characters are of various racial descriptions, and it's not a racial divide that adds to the nobility vs poorer classes. Race also doesn't play a role in the decision to go to war: it's clearly an effort to stop the revolutionary behaviors and hopefully have them drawn away or killed in battle, as well as expanding the empire and increasing the coffers and position of the king. The king, like many of the old school nobles, has no care for the poor or those "used up" to make his kingdom work. They're interchangeable cogs, essentially, and entirely beneath his notice. It's this kind of casual cruelty that so many of the disadvantaged and disabled are subject to and is denounced by the main characters.

All of it leads to building tension as the novel progresses to the end, and we do have dual epilogues to wrap things up. This is a fantastic novel, gripping and immersive from the first page to the last.

Buy Belle Révolte at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband and three young children.

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  1. Terrific review, I’m really interested in this duology now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  2. i am loving your header, with the book and comment. great idea...and the book sounds interesting too
    sherry @ fundinmental