I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this story & how devastated I was to discover that it’s a stand alone! The story kicked off at record speeds, I became obsessed with every magical detail, both protagonists were great fun to follow, & when things got tough towards the end, my heart was racing.
I enjoyed this book so much, & I’m so obsessed with the cover that I did a #BookishNails look for it which you will able to find here from 7pm today!
⚠️ This book contains murder, gory fights & medical scenes, classism, surgical scenes, sibling deaths, beheading, references to child neglect/abuse, discussions of drowning, medical neglect & manipulation & a government pushing heteronormativity ⚠️
Comtesse Emilie Marchand is more at home holding scalpels than knitting needles and is desperate to escape her noble roots and serve her country as a physician. But society dictates a lady cannot perform such gruesome work.
Annette Boucher, first-born daughter and least-loved child, wants more for her life, desperate to be trained so her magic can reach its full potential. So when a strange noble girl offers Annette the chance of a lifetime, she accepts.
Emilie and Annette swap lives — Annette attends finishing school to become a lady and trained in the ways of divination, while Emilie enrolls to be a surgeon, using her natural magical talent to save lives.
But when their nation is the aggressor in a frivolous war, Emilie and Annette must work together to help the rebellion end a war that is based on lies.
Linsey Miller did not hang around with opening this story as the reader is immediately plunged into the important moments in the lives of Annette & Emilie — it really didn’t take long for me to feel invested in both of their aspirations & I really enjoyed both of their educational settings. I found the magic system fascinating from the get-go as well, initially because of how it was used & manipulated by the nobility, but my interest soon shifted to how magic was used to support healing & medical intervention. The medical magic was definitely my biggest reason for wanting a sequel because I could have easily read a whole book focused solely on that… hey, Linsey, could you write a fantasy book set in a hospital in the Belle Révolte universe with lots of medical magic please?
As for the protags, my favourite thing about the inclusion of the two of them was how their experiences seemed to mirror each other throughout, especially because of how much reflective surfaces featured in the story. I liked Annette from very early on, & I was so hopeful that things would turn out well for her (I won’t tell you whether they did or not because, y’know, spoilers); she was kind & determined to make a better life for herself, & I found her experiences at the finishing school really interesting. I also really liked the friendships she built for herself, & the concept of her sharing a room with girls from very different backgrounds to her. Emilie on the other hand, took time to grow on me — at the start Emilie’s arrogance grated on me massively, but Emilie’s time studying to be a surgeon opened her eyes to the world outside the nobility, & slowly she matured & developed into a character that I couldn’t help but love. Moreover, following her as she learnt to use her magic for healing purposes was super interesting, & I fell in love with the characters around her.
The book really got going during the second half; the pace dramatically increased, & so did the stakes! Throughout the whole story things were tense because of how many secrets were bouncing around, but all of a sudden, shit really hit the fan & so many secrets were uncovered (including ones we’re not told about) & then everyone started bloody dying!! The change in pace & atmosphere really took me by surprise, so much so that I stayed up until the early hours reading, & my jaw was left hanging open more than once. Things got so out of control & so violent that I started to feel like the book could have been rated as adult because things were just so gory! It was bloody brilliant.
Overall, I very much enjoyed the whole of this pretty-looking novel, but I definitely preferred the grittier second half. Linsey has put together fantastic world-building, clever character development, enviable family & friend bonds, & two very interesting schools – what’s not to like? Grab yourself a copy using one of the links below:
Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Book Depository | Hive | Waterstones
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