Enchantée by Gita Trelease
Published by Flatiron Books on February 5, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Historical Fiction, Magic
Length: 464 pages Source: NetGalley
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Love. Magic. Revolution.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.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from NetGalley and Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I’m positively enchanted by Enchantée.
I must admit, when I requested this ARC from NetGalley, I had my reservations. This is one of those examples where the online bookish community really came through for me. I discovered Enchantée through a giveaway on Roshani Chokshi’s page. There was a massive joint giveaway for six ARCs upcoming in 2019, and when I got to Gita Trelease’s page, Enchantée stood out. Why? The cover is freaking gorgeous.
So when I saw it on NetGalley, I figured – sure, I’ll request that! Two weeks-ish later, I got my acceptance email, and I read 40% of the book that first day. I couldn’t put it down.
Gita Trelease brings Revolution era France to life. She makes the poor and downtrodden feel angry and the streets filled with smoke and rot and ruin. She makes Versailles feel like a pastel-coloured candy cake filled with amaretto and lies, where the rich hide behind powdered wigs and play cache-cache in the gardens. The two words are so starkly different, and in the middle of it all, there is the aeronauts and the beautiful silk balloon. Even without the fantasy elements, I would be ensnared by the world. Woven carefully in the seams is la magie, a magic that requires blood or sorrow to be performed. Enchantée feels more like magical realism than fantasy, because the story is in the romance and revolution, but la magie add a layer of glittering frosting to this already exquisite cake.
The rich world building would have kept me in love with the novel, but I like the characters, too. Camille is a nice girl but greedy – at first you don’t really notice it, because she is trying to survive, but after a little while, nothing seems like enough. Then there’s Sophie, who seems really sweet, but you learn is quite selfish. Gita Trelease does an excellent job of giving her characters two faces. It is one thing to have a flawed character, and another thing to convince the reader your character it completely justified in her actions… until the reader steps back and thinks about it. The only character who is purely black and white is the Viscount. Our villain is not terribly layered, making his plot fairly easy to see.
I spent more time troubling myself after the subplots, rather than the la magie storyline. I wanted to know what happened with the aeronauts, in particular. I found the Versailles storyline predictable enough that I was definitely at court to enjoy the glamours of the palace. It wasn’t unenjoyable, but it felt like a traditional boy-meets-girl, boy-forces-girl-to-love-him-against-her-will storyline. Something between the rags and riches of Cinderella and the unlikely pairing of Beauty and the Beast. The French Revolution and the workings of Paris were where the real interest lie for me, and I was okay with that.
I will add that in the beginning, there is a little bit of domestic violence, so please note that if you believe it will be a trigger for you.
Oh! And one last thing that I loved was the inclusion of the French language throughout the book. It flowed so easily and was no problem to distinguish meanings if you aren’t familiar with the language – it’s all very contextual. Half the time, I read over it without even thinking. The only phrase that caught me off guard was paille maille, which ultimately turned out to be a form of croquet, and was evident in a page or two. For those less knowledgable about French than I, there’s a glossary at the end of the book. Though, really, the French is self-evident and helps the story, rather than interrupt.
Between the atmosphere and the characters, I’ve been recommending Enchantée to everyone who reads the genre. I think that people who enjoy historical fiction, but not YA will not particularly enjoy this book because the intrigue is kept to a minimum, but this is a wonderful addition to the YA genre.