ARC provided by Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review.
Author: Gita Trelease
Genre: YA Historical fiction, fantasy
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Love. Magic. Revolution…
“Deliciously addictive.” ―Stephanie Garber, author of Caraval
“A heady, sparkling dream of a book.” ―Margaret Rogerson, author of An Enchantment of Ravens
“An utterly beguiling spell.” ―Laura Sebastian, author of Ash Princess
Paris is a labryinth of twisted streets filled with beggars and thieves, revolutionaries and magicians. Camille Durbonne is one of them. She wishes she weren’t…
When smallpox kills her parents, Camille must find a way to provide for her younger sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on magic, Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille pursues a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
Using dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into a baroness and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for magic. As she struggles to reconcile her resentment of the rich with the allure of glamour and excess, Camille meets a handsome younge inventor, and begins to believe that love and liberty may both be possible.
But magic has its costs, and soon Camille loses control of her secrets. And when revolution erupts, Camille must choose―love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, reality of magic―before Paris burns.
Enchantee is a story set in Paris during the French Revolution in 1789, but with a magical twist. We follow Camille, a girl who is trying her best to support her siblings after her parents died. She has a younger sister, Sophie, who is ill, and an older brother, Alain, who is basically a worthless, gambling-addicting drunk.
Sophie knows she can wield magic. In fact, there are three types of magic in this alternate Parisian universe:
- Magie ordinaire: “for changing things.”
- Glamoire: “for changing oneself.”
- Magie bibelot: “for imbuing objects with magic, making them sentient.”
But then Sophie discovers a rare magical item that she can use to glamor herself, and she decides to enter the French Court, playing cards and gambling but using magic to help along; with the end game of giving herself and her sister a better life.
“Magic is a cheater’s game, and everyone who sees it wants to play.”
I was immediately enthralled in this historical fantasy world and was really looking forward to seeing how the magic system was going to play into the story. While we do get to see some magic, it actually was quite minimal, so I was hoping for more. Also the scenes in Versailles turned out to be my least favorite parts, which was a surprise because I thought I’d like them the best. And if I’m being honest, the villain wasn’t my favorite. I think my feelings are that I’m not super into gambling stories and this book had several scenes depicting it.
“But under the surface of the glamoire there was rot.”
However, my favorite parts of this book actually weren’t even tied to the magic or aristocracy; rather I was loving the scenes with the hot air balloon inventors. It was clear (and confirmed in the notes at the end of the book) that certain characters were inspired by the Montgolfier brothers, who pioneered the first lighter-than-air ships (I’m an aviation nerd, sorry.) I wanted to see more of these balloon makers tied into the main story line, but I really loved how a certain romance bloomed from it.
I also really appreciated how a certain biracial character talks about racism, and that being biracial has sometimes made him feel confused and the target of hate. As someone who is biracial, I completely related to this character about feeling like I don’t quite fit into a certain identity. I truly loved how the author respectfully brought up this topic.
This book took so many monumental events in France’s history and spread them throughout the story. While sometimes I felt like it got to be a bit much, I really think fans of historical fantasy may appreciate all the nods to the French Revolution in this book. There are also the themes of sisterhood, poverty, and hope, and how terribly corrupt the aristocracy was at that time. If you’re a historical fiction fan but want some elements of magical fantasy sprinkled throughout, then I think you may enjoy this book!
Trigger/content warnings: abuse, gambling, alcoholism, slut shaming.
All quotes are taken from an advance reader’s copy and may change upon publication.
About the Author:
Born in Sweden to Indian and Swedish parents, Gita Trelease has lived in many places, including New York, Paris, and a tiny town in central Italy. She attended Yale College and New York University, where she earned a Ph.D. in British literature. Before becoming a novelist, she taught classes on writing and fairy tales. With her husband and son, Gita divides her time between a village in Massachusetts and the coast of Maine. ENCHANTÉE is her debut novel.