Author: Gita Trelease
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Source: ARC (Gifted by MyKindaBook, thanks!)
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…
I have been wanting to read Enchantée since I first heard of it and it was pretty much everything I had hoped for. It had magic, the glamour of court (or should I say, glamoire), a Parisian setting and a lovely romance. It also had a feature of Marie Antoinette, although she didn’t pop up very often.
The plot of Enchantée is simple to follow. Camille, her sister Sophie and brother Alain are orphans who are trying to survive. Camille is the only one of her family that is able to work la magie and so, in order to make money, she goes to Versailles to help her family out. There, she comes across trouble.
Camille is our main character who is very focussed on doing anything to ensure that neither herself or her sister, Sophie, fall into poverty and face a worse fate. Camille definitely grows in this book as she has to deal with her alcoholic and gambling brother Alain, but also the threat of being found out that she can work magic to her will at Versailles. Camille essentially lives a double life throughout this book, but as her confidence grows thanks to the ‘fake’ life she’s living, this affects her attitude throughout the book on both sides.
During Enchantee, we see the introduction of other characters including Lazare who is working on a hot air balloon with Rosier and Armand. Lazare is a character who is trying to hide his roots but needs to use his connections at the same time to aid him in his work. He is a fairly significant character in this book. Armand is a character who felt a little unnecessary as he didn’t really take to Camille and there was no real reason why. Rosier was a very happy character who was a whirlwind of positivity on the page.
Whilst Camille is living her double life at Versailles, she meets Chandon and Aurelie, two characters who turn out to be great friends to Camille. With the introduction of these two characters, I feel like this changed Camille’s attitude towards the elite class of society as at first, she sort of resents the upper classes but throughout the book, her outlook on the upper classes changes.
This book was set in Paris and Versailles. I enjoyed seeing the contrast between the two, particularly as I felt that they helped to separate between Camille’s real life and her fantasy life. I think that this helped to show the contrast between how the rich and poor lived in France at this time. I also think that this lent to the fact that it felt like there were almost two stories that were running side by side.
I enjoyed the magical element in this book and it was quite important to the plot and to Camille and her character development. As magic is essentially forbidden and Camille is forced to hide her abilities, this reminded me a little of the witch hunts that had taken place in Europe.
I was expecting to see more of the planning of the French Revolution and more of Marie Antoinette, but I don’t think this particularly made me rate the book any differently but I do think that it may have added to the book. I just felt that I went into the book expecting something slightly different but nevertheless, I still enjoyed Enchantee.
I thought the writing in this one was good. It was a good pace and I didn’t feel myself losing interest at all. I will admit that during the first 100-150 pages, I felt the pace was slow but it did pick up and flowed really nicely afterwards. The chapters were also a nice length – I personally find books with longer chapters slower to read but the chapters in this were a good length.
I would absolutely recommend this book! If you’re looking for a book full of magic, mystery set in the city of Paris with the glamoire of Versaille, look no further than this! I thought that Enchantee was a wonderful addition to the historical YA genre and I look forward to seeing what Gita writes next.