Title: Enchantée by Gita Trelease
Published: February 5, 2019
Read as: US hardcover
Average Goodreads rating: 3.81
My rating: 4.5
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… (from Goodreads)
Papa’s ghost might have whispered in her ear, there would be consequences, some of them not fair. How else would you know you had done something, if there was no change? No shift in the world?
I was lucky enough to receive this book at a gift on its release date and I was absolutely thrilled! I had been yearning to read it. So, of course, in true book blogger fashion, it then proceeded to sit on my shelf for several weeks before I actually picked it up. Isn’t that how it usually goes?
When I opened Enchantée, I was immediately swept up into a world that felt so much more real than what I usually find in a fantasy novel. You are on the streets, page one, with Camille as she off handedly steals what she needs to survive. How is it off handed, you may ask? Well, because Camille can turn every day objects like buttons and pins into coins but that magic doesn’t hold. After a while, the coins will turn back into their original form and Camille has to be well away before that happens. Magic is rare and the person in possession of it is at risk of being blackmailed or persecuted.
She and her sister, Sophie, have had a hard time. Their parents died of small pox (I believe) and their brother, who was once loving and kind, has turned to drink and now drinks away any money they bring in to the point that they are nearly homeless. One evening, the brother demands money from his sisters and when she refuses to bend to his will, he beats Camille. After that, she is determined to escape her brother by any means possible, even if that means turning to magic the her mother swore her to never touch.
What follows is a whirlwind of wonder. The magic allows Camille into Versailles where she intends to gamble and use her gifts to change cards, allowing her to win enough money to get her and her sister away from their abusive brother.
I became completely absorbed by Camille’s romps with the gentry at Versailles, even as she soaked them for money. Of course, there is an evildoer out to ruin everything Camille strives for and she has to figure a way to best them without giving up the freedom from poverty she has tried so hard to achieve.
We have a wonderful love story that melted made my shriveled little heart swell, we see the beginning of the French Revolution, and witness a young woman reach for her dreams. Every moment of this story drew me in and made me want more. The atmosphere was rich and the cast of characters fascinating. Being set at the start of the Revolution I expected to see more of Marie Antoinette but surprisingly she took up very little page time. Now that I’m through with the book, I think if she had been featured more it would have taken too much away from the story of Camille and that would not have worked at all so it was the right call.
I loved this book. I loved the writing, the story, the characters, every last part of it. My only qualm is that I wish we had been giving a little more detail about the first riots of the Revolution. They are a significant moment in history, moments that changed everything, and they aren’t given more than a couple of paragraphs that I don’t think truly conveyed their importance.
If you enjoy historical fiction with a dash of something “other” then I think you will fall in love with this book every bit as much as I did. I highly recommend it.