Enchantée, Gita Trelease

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All the world comes to Versailles hoping to be someone else

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 now Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

* * * *
4 / 5

I didn’t know how much I wanted a magical realism book set against the background of the French Revolution until I read one. Enchantée is full of glitz and glamour and the seduction of wealth and power, but it’s also about poverty and fear and the struggle to survive. There’s a touch of romance, high stakes tension, and a large splash of magic.

Champange or opium, girls or boys, cards or dice, dreams or nightmares: at the Palais-Royal, you picked your own delight – or poison

Enchantée follows the classic tale of a poor girl, Camille Durbonne, whose parents were killed by small pox, as she struggles to provide for herself and her younger sister. She’s also got magic, which she uses to become the Baroness de la Fontaine and con her way into the gambling halls of the glittering palace of Versailles. There she finds enemies, allies, and mystery. Behind Camille’s personal troubles the revolution is rising and two worlds are colliding: the world of the rich, with tremendous beauty, false airs, and excessive parties and gambling, and the world of the poor, troubled by smallpox, poverty, and petty magics.

Camille herself was a fantastic protagonist. She’s good-hearted, genuinely concerned for her younger sister and her alcoholic brother, and she’s willing to do what her family needs. But when she enters Versailles to gamble for money, Camille can’t fight the attraction of the illusion; in Versailles, Camille isn’t poor or desperate, she is beautiful and powerful and she catches the attention of other wealthy youngsters. It is intoxicating and and Camille is entirely understandable, even if she made me want to chuck the book at the wall in frustration!

She was rising and it was glorious to rise

Another notable favourite was Lazare, a young French-Indian aristocrat whose free time revolves around air balloon experiments. He’s passionate, cute, and charming and his struggle between his identity and society was well written and touching.

Enchantée is a captivating novel that blends together magic and history. The characters are compelling and real and I rooted for them.

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of Enchantée

 

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