Author: Gita Trelease
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, YA
Published: February 5th, 2019 (Flatiron Books)
Synopsis: 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…
18th century Paris is an era where the gap between the rich and the poor grows wider everyday. The aristocrats flaunt their excesses while the common folk struggle for day-to-day necessities. But among these are a few who are gifted with the ability to use la magie. Seventeen year old Camille Durbonne struggles to provide for her family, painstakingly changing scraps of metal into money with la magie ordinaire.
When her drunkard of a brother gambles away what little savings they had, Camille, in desperation, ventures into the glamorous court of Versailles, using the most dangerous form of la magie to disguise herself as the Baroness de la Fontaine with the hope of making enough money at the card tables to move herself and her sister to a safe place. She soon discovers however, that is not the only magician at Versailles and beneath the illusion of the glittering court lurks a world far more dangerous than anything she imagined. Back in Paris, her real life waits (along with a boy who flies hot-air balloons). Yet, even as she struggles with her ingrained resentment of the rich nobles, she finds it difficult to resist the allure of Versailles, the company of the aristocratic friends she makes under her false identity, the money she wins at the gambling tables – it is never enough, and day after day, she returns, all too aware that the magic she uses to disguise herself has a cost all its own. But the year is 1789. Paris is a powder keg waiting to be lit and the people are ready for change. Revolution is around the corner, and as the secrets she hides start to get out of control, Camille will have to make her choices soon.
Gita Trelease has perfectly captured the magnificence of Versailles and portrayed it in breathtaking detail. This book in no way feels like a debut novel – it was everything I hoped it would be and more. The court of Versailles, the pomp and grandeur, the decadence, the intrigue, and the complex etiquette, has always been a huge fascination for me. As such, it, along with the French Revolution are areas of history that I’m quite familiar with – and have even higher expectations for.
Enchantée is a work of art, carefully crafted from beginning to end. Camille is a compelling lead, perfect in her imperfection. Her reactions to the situation she finds herself in are exceedingly realistic and natural. Lazare, the enigmatic aeronaut, was my other favourite character, who feels he doesn’t fit into the snobbish aristocracy due to his heritage. Did I mention that the hot-air balloon sequences are amazing? The setting and world-building draws you in, whether it be the side streets of Paris or the splendor of Versailles, and the riveting story will keep you reading. The inclusion of French words and phrases in many dialogues especially, lends a very authentic feel to the tale, along with the real historical events woven into the narrative such as the Tennis Court Oath and the storming of the Bastille. The story itself is perfectly paced so that as tensions rise in Paris, so too do the stakes at Versailles, as Camille’s two lives are set on a collision course.
This book was so beautiful and though I hoped it was a standalone when I started reading it, I would not say no to a sequel. I’d return to this amazing world that Trelease has so masterfully constructed anytime. I would highly recommend this book as a must read for 2019 – the magic for the fantasy fans, and the setting for the history fans. A book thoroughly worthy of its title, Enchantée sweeps you up into the magical tale, leaving you wishing you could experience the gilded wonder of Versailles for yourself.
I feel a book hangover coming on already! What did you think of Enchantée?
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