Author: Gita Trelease
Publisher: Macmillan/Flatiron Books
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★ (4.8/5)
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…
I received an ARC and finished copy of Enchantée from Macmillan in exchange for an honest review as a part of a blog tour!
For those of you who have not yet picked up this magnificent book—which I highly recommend—this review is going to be spoiler-free (most of it, anyway.)
I personally don’t think my reviews are too structured, but I’ll just say my review will start off with the basics and techniques—plot and writing—and move into characters and any possible issues I noticed within Enchantée (because like humans, no novel is perfect.)
I’m going to start off by just saying that I adored Enchantée. Ever since I started senior year of high school, my assignments have piled so high that I rarely get the chance to just sit and read—but Enchantée was a fresh breath of air. I literally could not put it down until I finished, readily distracting me from my homework. So if you like jam-packed action and suspense, this book is perfect for you!
The writing was amazing; descriptive and beautiful but not too purple prose. The addition of French sprinkled throughout was such a nice touch. Now, I do not speak fluent French (or any language but English for that matter) but the context was there that you do not need to know the language to appreciate the natural blend of French into the writing.
I loved the way the plot and subplots just blended into each other so smoothly, not leaving any room for filler chapters or unnecessary descriptions. The main plot follows Camille disguising herself to enter the grueling court of Versailles, and the fake identity trope stands among one of my favorites in all of YA. As for the subplots, I thought all of them developed and collided at the perfect pace. I especially enjoyed the Lazare and hot air balloon subplot which made for a great historical tidbit you would not expect in a novel about magic and the French revolution. In addition, the subplot of abuse from Camille’s brother Alain was disturbing but nonetheless provided a sense of motivation for Camille and her sister, Sophie, as well as one of the more realistic villains in a fantasy novel.
Since that is a great transition into characters, let’s talk about characters!
While deceased parents are a common occurrence in YA novels, I thought Enchantée did it realistically though considering it was 18th century France, after all. And gave Camille some motivation and responsibility for her siblings, despite her being the middle child.
Lazare, my boy, Lazare, ah I loved him. He is too good and pure for this world. Any scene with him made me swoon ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh but also on a more serious note, I appreciate the addition of a person/people of color within historical fiction novels. I can imagine it’s difficult to convey their hardships even today, nevermind two hundred years ago! But I thought Trelease handled it well, however, I am of course not a POC so I can’t make an exact judgment on his portrayal. (However, I must note that this portrayal is own voices because Gita Trelease is half-Indian!)
Sophie is, admittedly, somewhat bothersome, but I knew she had her motivations (even though she totally pulled a damsel in distress and completely ruins it for Camille BUT IT’S NOT LIKE I AM NOT BITTER OR ANYTHING)
(That gif also represents how I feel about Alain, who totally screws Camille over as well—damn she has some great siblings, didn’t she?)
My feelings aside, so I obviously haven’t discussed the elephant in the room (or the screen?) which is le magie, or the magic of Enchantée. The aspect of riches, gambling, and illusions within the novel were very reminiscent of Caraval to me, another YA fantasy novel I enjoyed. (In fact, you can read my review here.)
While Enchantée gave us some rules (and unfortunate truths) about la magie, the novel didn’t dive much into its origin or perhaps why it belonged to only the nobility. Otherwise, I really liked that the novel contains magic, but wasn’t overwhelming as an entire epic fantasy series with societies defined by it. I was especially intrigued that grief and pain fueled the glamour magic—an example of a darker side to la magie. That being said, I would totally be fine with Trelease writing another novel within this historical magical world.
While I would pay big money (which I don’t have, but unlike Camille I can’t turn metal into coins) for a sequel to this novel, I also recognize that the ending wrapped up nicely *clenches fist* fight me on this but people deserve HAPPY ENDINGS and probably does not need a sequel, but I adore Camille and Lazare and wish to see them exploring the world in their hot air balloon. (And I wish I could join them.)
I hope you enjoyed my review of Enchantée! Basically, I highly recommend this novel if you like the French Revolution, romance, and magic (aka the perfect recipe for disaster.) I’ve only read a handful of novels in 2019, but Enchantée is by far my favorite one.
Thanks for reading? Have you read Enchantée? Let me know in the comments below!