Enchantée – Gita Trelease

 

36613718


4-stars

5 February 2019 – Macmillan Children’s Books


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…


ARC received in exchange for an honest review – thank you!

This book was BEAUTIFUL. The writing was lush without being stifling, the heroine was flawed without being unlikeable… honestly my gripes with this one are very minor.

This one has a very fulsome blurb. 17-year-old Camille Durbonne is dealing with an alcoholic, abusive older brother and an ill younger sister, Sophie, so she needs all the money she can get. So far the family have just been using la magie ordinaire, little magic: it can turn scrap metal into coins for just long enough to push them onto unsuspecting vendors. But they can’t do this forever, because all the shopkeepers in their neighbourhood are wising up. The next step is to use glamoire, a bigger magic, which can disguise not petty objects but people.

There’s just one problem. Magic always has its price. The petty magic uses sorrow and tears to fuel itself; glamoire uses sorrow and blood. But Camille has no choice, so she’s disguised herself as their ancestress Cécile, Baroness de la Fontaine and taken herself to Versailles. There she uses la magie ordinaire to win card games by cheating. I loved Camille’s no-nonsense attitude here. A lot of YA heroines you see are burdened by scruples, but not Camille. (Okay, I sound like a total criminal right now, but honestly, I love the unrepentant bad-girl heroines). She has a problem, and by God, she’s going to get herself out of it. There’s no squeamishness – quite refreshing.

But when she gets to Versailles she discovers she’s not the only cheater there – or even the only magician. She falls into a friendship with the aristocrats Chandon, his lover Foudriard, their friend Aurélie… and the Vicomte de Séguin, a dangerous, unpredictable young man. Incidentally, for anyone who’s read Les Liaisons Dangereuses, I could see the influence of the Vicomte de Valmont very clearly in Seguin. And I’m not just pulling that out of nowhere – Liaisons is actually referenced in the book!

Seguin is a fascinating villain, charming and utterly opaque. I did knock a star off my rating because of him, though – one of his crucial actions at the end of the book seemed nothing like his character whatsoever, it felt very deus ex machina.

But the sisterly bond between Camille and Sophie was nicely done. Camille’s not a perfect sibling; there were many times I wanted to scream at her for not showing more care about Sophie’s whereabouts and actions. I mean, this is Paris, 1789! She needs to look after her! But Camille’s kind of like one of those people who think they need to work more, earn just a little more money, and then their family will love them more – not realising it’s them the family loves, not the money. It doesn’t help that gambling holds an allure which Camille is not immune to.

The romance was pretty cute. Slightly fast, perhaps, but I loved how it was complicated by all manner of disguises (and not just on Camille’s part). The setting was, mostly, very well realised. I sat a three-hour exam on the whole French Revolution a few months ago, so it’s still very fresh in my mind, and I do think Trelease has captured the dizzy atmosphere of Versailles well.

In short, this is a strong debut (if not perfect, especially at the end).

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4 thoughts on “Enchantée – Gita Trelease

      • Ah, so basically, I’m on the blog tour for Wicked Saints and I was asked to post my review for it in April instead (once the tour wraps up), since I only gave it 3 stars. Haha, I’m sorry for making you doubt your sanity! I knew I should’ve told you what I’d done with it…

        It’s not deleted, more like archived, so our comments should (hopefully) still be there when the review reappears!

        Like

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