Review: Enchantée (Enchantée #1) by Gita Trelease

Author: Gita Trelease
41577908Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Publication Date:  February 21st 2019
Source: ebook (given by Netgalley)


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…

*The publisher provided this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
Paris in the reign of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette is a place of dreams, a place of new ideas, a place of beauty but also a place of thieves, a place of oppression and a place of death. The court's luxuries have drained the people's money and food and while the high classes have fun, others die of disease and hunger.
Camille Durbonne knows this all too well. After her parents die of smallpox and she is left alone with her money draining gambler brother, Alain, and her frail little sister, Sophie, and little way to make ends meet. She lives in the dark part of Paris, the one where nobles do not venture to dwell. It is in this Paris that she meets Lazare, a balloonist that dreams as high as herself.
Trying to make some money to be able to escape from Alain's grasp, Camille turns to the magic her mum had taught her. With this secret and forbidden magic, Camille turns herself into the 'Baroness de la Fontaine' and tries her luck at Versailles' gambling tables, always aided by la magie.
As time goes on, Camille starts to realise the true costs of using la magie as well as the danger of being a magician in one of Europe's most dangerous courts. Times are changing and each one has to save themselves, at a certain point Camille finds herself entrapped between the nobles and the people and between herself and her persona as the Baroness.
There is a quote that, for me, summarises the feeling of this whole book:

"This was the Paris of the strivers, of those who dwell low, not high. This was not the Paris of balloonists."

If one expects to find a small fairytale about how amazing Paris was and of how many wonderful luxuries all French people enjoyed during this time, that will not happen. The author has taken a very different approach to the subject choosing a storytelling style that showcases both sides of French society during this time. Camille is the spokesperson for both the nobles and the common people, finding herself divided between her life and the one she created through her glamour as the Baroness.
This a story that highlights the spirit of discovery and freedom of speech wished by the Enlightenment and the "boom" new ideas and concerns that took place in that era. The entanglement between the aeronauts' plot with the Versailles and Camille's family plot make this story beautifully complex in all the right ways. Yes, there are a lot of plot lines but they mesh together in a way that culminates in the same plot line and each one having its importance for the whole web of the story.
One thing that is really interesting in this story is that it being a fantasy set in the real world, the author did not whitewash 1789 Paris. Lazare Melais is Indian on his mother's side and that shows the conscience that French people (and other nations) actually "mingled" with the people from their colonies, leading to a more diverse society than one might be led to imagine. Besides this, it is also important to highlight (again), how the hunger and sickness of the underfed French general populace were taken into account. Instead of embellishing this time period the author was faithful to the realities of the time.
The magical and fantastical elements of the story and the way they are intertwined with the glamorous and the dark details of Paris makes this book especially great. You will fall in love on the very first chapter and you will feel the characters in your core. Do pick this book up! It is worth it.

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