Author: Gita Trelease
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical
Publisher: Flatiron (Macmillan)
Date published: February 5, 2019
A physical copy of this book was kindly provided by Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.
Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…
When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.
But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…
Before Enchantée, it had been quite some time since I read a standalone YA fantasy novel. So, I was both excited (because I wouldn’t have to wait a year or longer for a sequel/sequels) and afraid (because if I loved it, I would definitely want for there to be sequels). By the end of the book, these feelings did not change. I was grateful to be able to see how the story ends right away, but afterward, I was left with a book hangover and quite the craving for more Camille, more Versailles, more 18th century France. If I absolutely had to choose, I would say that the settings and how they were described were my favourite part about Enchantée. Trelease completely transported me to 18th century France, and I loved every minute! I especially liked the parts about Versailles because Versailles has always fascinated me.
I also love reading about the French Revolution and haven’t encountered it in books since I read Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities back in 2016. And it was certainly interesting to view the revolution from, both, the lower class and upper class perspective. I also enjoyed the story in Enchantée, of course, as well as the characters. There were a number of twists that I didn’t predict, which is always fun for me, and I absolutely had no idea how everything would end since this is Trelease’s first book and I therefore had no previous experience with her storytelling style. I found that the story also slowed down a little in parts, but I enjoyed those parts as well simply because of the setting, as well as the building anticipation for when action would pick up again. Overall, I definitely enjoyed Enchantée and now definitely wish this had been a series so that I can get more of the magic, setting, and characters!
Born in Sweden to Indian and Swedish parents, Gita Trelease has lived in lots of places, including New York, Paris, and a tiny town in central Italy. She attended Yale College and New York University, where she earned a Ph.D. in British literature. Before becoming a novelist, she taught classes on writing and fairy tales—some of which have seeped into this story. Along with her husband and son, Gita divides her time between a spooky old village in Massachusetts and the coast of Maine, where she’s still searching for a secret portal that will take her back to Versailles.
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