Author: Gita Trelease
Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…Goodreads
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…
Remember – magic is a cheater’s game, and everyone who sees it wants to play.
In Enchantée we follow Camille, a 16-year-old girl whose parents died from smallpox, leaving her and her siblings poor and reliant upon each other to survive. Thankfully, she has la magie, the ability to do magic. Due to an increasing need for money to survive she quickly goes from turning nails found on the street to coins, to turning herself into an aristocrat to gamble, and win, at Versailles. She soon becomes ensnared in the glamor and excitement of Versailles, becoming dependent on her magic regardless of its impact on her health and her relationship with her sister. The deeper she gets pulled into the magic of the palace and its people, the more she realizes its danger. She struggles between choosing la magie and how being at the palace and gambling makes her feel and helps her family, and how being with Lazare and helping him, and his aeronautical crew, with their balloon makes her feel more herself.
I’m going to start first with what I liked.
I think the best part of the story are the characters. They are all very distinct personalities and you can see that through their actions and how they interact with the other characters.
Camille – Strong independent woman say whaaaaaat?? Camille has two things she cares about: her sister and bringing them out of poverty. She pretty much goes to the end of the world to make their situation better. Throughout the book she has a MAJOR identity crisis, mostly due to her using la magie to change herself into an aristocrat so she can win at gambling at Versailles.
Lazare – Oh my lovely, lovely hot air balloonist. He, quite frankly, is amazing. He clearly respects women and is incredibly passionate about what he does. He has some daddy issues and is always trying to prove himself but that ain’t no thang boo, we get it. He’s also hiding something about his past that causes Camille’s two worlds to collide and to possibly endanger her.
I liked watching their romance because it wasn’t quick and followed natural progression of interest to like to love.
Sophie – She’s basically the epitome of younger sisters, very idealistic and a bit spoiled. She wants nothing more than to have her own fairy-tale ending but doesn’t know the rotten nature of the court and aristocrats, pushing her into the danger Camille faces every time she goes to Versailles.
Alain – Here comes the shitty brother train whoo whooooo! This dude just sucks. He’s an alcoholic and a gambler who depends on Camille to get him out of a massive debt, one that will come back around and bite Camille on the ass. There is straight up abuse in most of his scenes, so if that’s triggering for you just be wary.
Séguin – I don’t want to give much away about this character because he is a mystery for most of the book. I’ll just say that he’s very skeevy and more than a little bit power hungry, and his motivations for what he does is a bit weird. Who cares if he’s supposed to be hot? Hard pass for me dog.
*****Best Character Award*****
Rosier – I loved him. He’s just so endearing and personable. He is part of the aeronaut crew and is pretty much the life of the group. It’s hard not to smile when reading any interaction of his.
Rosier was still fuming, loosening his cravat and scribbling notes for a conversation he was going to have with Armand that would put him in his place.
I also really liked that the book is accurate to history. We get to watch scenes from the start of the French Revolution from the perspective of the commoners as well as the aristocracy. From bread prices going up and how that impacted the average person, to the revolution representatives going to Versailles to demand a new constitution, it added a lot of depth to the setting. I also liked any scene with the hot air balloon.
Things that could have been better.
- The writing. It was oddly vague, yet at times there were descriptions that were supposed to add to… something, idk the tone of the book? The atmosphere? Either way, they didn’t. I think this book would have been better if here were more descriptions of the setting. It would have added to the whimsy that I feel like the author wanted to portray. I would have loved to read about the lavish decorations at the parties and the gambling rooms and the streets of Paris.
- La magie. It remained a mystery for most of the book. I have questions. Why does it require pain or sorrow? Where did the dress come from? Why is it so addictive? How was Versailles created with la magie and why are all the magicians we meet aristocrats???
All in all, I enjoyed this book. The elements of common magic and history is an amazing genre and I hope that there will be more like Enchantée coming in the future. The main thing that threw me was the writing style. The lack of detail left me feeling like I were watching everything happen through a foggy window. I could see some details, but the rest were obscured, turning them into hazy color blobs.
Have you read Enchantée? What are your thoughts?