Enchantée by Gita Trelease is a young adult historical fantasy. Personally I love historical fantasy so this hit the sweet spot for me. I can see this book appealing to other historical fantasy lovers and especially those who like a book placed within historical France, specifically Revolutionary France. This is the sort of historical fantasy I’d love to have on my client list. I enjoyed the strong personal stakes and the way the magic felt like it belonged in historical France.
At its heart this book is about two sisters (Camille and Sophie) trying to survive and keep themselves from living on the streets. With their parents dead it falls to Camille as the older sister to look after Sophie in a France that is being ravaged by poverty. But with their older brother racking up gambling debts, he is intent on taking everything they have to protect himself from. Camille refuses to let him destroy them and uses magic to walk amongst the aristocrats at Versailles and gamble at cards to win money. The longer she spends at Versailles the more she struggles to reconcile the real her with the pretend baroness she has become. However she isn’t the only magician at court and if she isn’t careful she’ll get ensnared in another magician’s web before she sees it coming.
I loved the mix of Revolutionary France and magic in this and especially the world building revolving around the Sun King (the king who built Versailles). It helped the magic fit seamlessly into the era and made the magic feel like it belonged at Versailles. The stakes in this were extremely personal, which drove home what Camille stood to lose if she failed. The historical events of the time were explored just enough to help show readers what is happening in France without letting the history take over the story. Revolutionary France is the backdrop of this story and not the focus, and I think that worked really well for the plot. Overall I highly recommend this book.
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…