Book Review || Enchantée by Gita Trelease

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…

  • Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
  • Pages: 480
  • Edition: Macmillan Children’s Books, Paperback

[Published February 2019 | Source: Goodreads]

I’ve read mixed reviews about this book. Some people liked it, some people didn’t. And I almost canceled my order due to not-so-good reviews. Almost. But In the end, I decided to give it a try (and thank goodness, I did!) because the synopsis has already enchanted me.

Set in the 18th century France while the revolution is on the rise, this book transported me from the dull walls of my apartment into the enchanting palace of Versailles where glitz, glamour, and magic resides. Through the author’s excellent writing style and vivid imagery, I didn’t find it hard to connect with the characters. Every page, they grew on me. Until I no longer feel like an outsider in the story.

Written in third person, the book follows the story of Camille, an orphan with an alcoholic, debt-ridden older brother and a frail younger sister. In order to provide for both of her siblings, she uses the magic her mother had taught her—la magie ordinaire—to turn scraps into coins. However, as her brother grew more desperate to pay off his debts, the path Camille had to take in order to keep herself and her sister safe became more perilous.

Having no other better choice, she was then forced to use a more “advanced” kind of magic, which doesn’t only require sorrow but her blood as well. This magic is called glamoire. Glamoire allows her to be the Baroness of Pretend. It’s her ticket through the gates of Versailles, her invitation to the gambling tables and her golden ladder to power.

The more she tries to sneak her way into the labyrinth of Versailles, the more she sees through the maze. People, indeed, aren’t always what they seem. For she is not the only one trying to get through the night. She is not the only one living a double life.

Aside from magic, poverty and its consequences, this book also touches more sensitive subjects like politics, corruption, classism, and even racism. So expect that there is a lot going on between the pages.

Camille as a main character is revolutionary. She is soft and strong at the same time. She could’ve easily married a rich and powerful man but she chose to do things in her own magical way. Yes, it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was a dangerous game to play, but I’m all for strong, independent women out there.

Lazare as a love interest is really charming and dreamy. I enjoyed every scene that he was in. And I like that the book doesn’t depend much on romance to drive the story. It made their interactions cute and more exciting.

I adored the supporting characters as well; the aristocrat friends (Oh, Chandon!), the aeronauts, and of course, her sister—Sophie. Sophie is the driving force here, for she is Camille’s motivation.

Although the plot twists were a bit cliché and predictable, Enchantée is still a book of its own kind. The magic system is really fascinating as it doesn’t come easily to the person doing it. And besides, history is always an interesting subject. It is a period of time that we can no longer visit and whatever happened in the past remains there. Irreversible and untouchable. So it’s nice that through books we get a glimpse, we get to live lives we will never be able to live in reality.

Will I recommend this book? Well, if you’re a history buff like me and you’re in for a charming, light read (because the conflict with the villain was immediately solved) with a little bit of sorrow, then Absolutely!

I imagine this could be a good autumn read. As the sparkles of the 18th-century Paris reminds me of candles and golden leaves.

Also, I just found out that this is a part of a duology so I’m very much looking forward to the sequel. It’s called Liberté and will be out in July 2020. I can’t wait!

“Our shadows are tied to us, like it or not — all we can do is run faster.”

— Camille, Enchantée by Gita Trelease

4.5 / 5

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