Author: Gita Trelease
Publication date: February 5, 2019
Genre: YA historical fantasy
When smallpox kills her parents, seventeen-year-old Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail 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 the dark magic she learned from 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. Her resentment of the rich at odds with the allure of glamour and excess, Camille is astonished to find that her would-be suitor Lazare, a handsome young inventor whom she thought shared her dreams of liberty, is also living a double life.
As the Baroness de la Fontaine, Camille gambles at cards and flirts, desperate to maintain her place at court and keep herself and her sister off the streets. But la magie has its costs. When a scheming courtier blackmails her and Lazare’s affections shift, Camille loses control of her secrets. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose–love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, reality or la magie–before Paris burns.
Enchantée is one of my most anticipated debut releases in 2019. I was so excited to read this, its set in Paris France during the height of the French Revolution in 1789. I have been fascinated with court life and Versailles for such a long time and this was pitched as Marie Antoinette meets Caraval, two things I adore. This clearly wasn’t a 5 star read for me and that may be a little bit my fault, I may have hyped this up too much in my mind. But let’s dig into this review.
Enchantee is full of secrets, lies, deception, magic and sorrow.
Enchantée follows the main character Camille who has known nothing but hardship and despair. Her parents died of small pox leaving her and her two siblings to fend for themselves with no money. Camille is poor, struggling to survive, to keep her younger sister alive oh, and she can wield magic. In this version of France some people called Magicians can wield magic, there are three types:
La maige ordinaire, turn small objects into something else
Glamoire, changing ones appearance
Maige bibelot, enchanted objects
Camille has been using la maige ordinaire since their parents passed to turn small metal pieces into gold coins to buy food. When she’s unable to pay rent for their apartment she turns to magic her mother warned her to stay away from, Glamoire and Magie bibelot. Camille takes on a new identity, the Baroness de la Fontaine to enter Versailles where she plans to gamble, using magic to help her win money. Everything at court isn’t as it seems and she’s been warned to watch out for traps and to be careful with how much magic she uses.
In the first few chapters were introduced to a young aeronaut, Lazare, a hot air balloon maker. Lazare was a fantastic addition to the story, hes half Indian half French and he talks about his struggles not fitting in because of his race and about the pressure from his father about being a true Frenchman. Lazare was a bit mysterious because we don’t really know a lot about him until later on in the book.
What I really enjoyed about Enchantee was the setting, Versailles and court life is so fascinating to me. I loved reading about the grand and lavish rooms and halls of Versailles, the stunning sprawling gardens and fountains, the palace itself is magical. I also loved seeing Paris from a different perspective, to read about how dirty and disgusting it was during this time period. I also really enjoyed Camille as the main character and narrator, shes fiery, determined and fiercely protective.
I enjoyed the magic system, I thought it was very interesting, in order to use magic you need to have sorrow and use that sorrow to work the magic. The magic was almost like an addiction, once Camille started she couldn’t stop. The magic sank its fangs into her and wanted more and more and more from her.
Now, what I didn’t enjoy was how slow paced the story was, I found myself wondering when something exciting was going to happen. Don’t get me wrong the history was really great but I was hoping for more magic. The magic in Enchantee is really subtle, almost like you’re not reading a historical fantasy book, its kind of just there. I also felt like there was a lot crammed into this book, I mean it’s quite long but there was a lot of information and a lot going on. Between the french revolution, Camille’s struggles, court life and the hot air balloon there was just too much happening at once.
The majority of the plot points were predictable and you saw them coming, so there really wasn’t any WOW factor to the story for me.
overall, I really enjoyed Enchantee, for how large the book is, it flew through it. It has two of my favourite things, historical fiction and magic combined, so how could I not like it, right? I just wish there were a few more exciting plot points.