Gita Trelease’s ENCHANTÉE debuted on Feb. 5, 2019! I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy through NetGalley and Macmillan Flatiron Books and waited a week to make sure people were able to read it before I posted my full review.
This post CONTAINS SPOILERS. If you would like to read the spoiler-free post click here. To begin, here is the summary and the shortened review:
Summary: Love. Magic. Revolution…
Paris is a labyrinth of twisted streets filled with beggars and thieves, revolutionaries and magicians. Camille Durbonne is one of them. She wishes she weren’t…
When smallpox kills her parents, Camille must find a way to provide for her younger sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on magic, Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille pursues a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
Using dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into a baroness and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for magic. As she struggles to reconcile her resentment of the rich with the allure of glamour and excess, Camille meets a handsome young inventor, and begins to believe that love and liberty may both be possible.
But magic has its costs, and soon Camille loses control of her secrets. And when revolution erupts, Camille must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, reality of magic—before Paris burns.
Why I was interested: Historical fiction and fantasy are my favorite genres, and when I heard about ENCHANTÉE combining the French Revolution and magic, I knew immediately it was going on my TBR list for 2019.
Judge a book by it’s cover: This cover is so glamorous — perfect for the luxury of Versailles — and cleverly features Camille’s red hair and the French flag. Gold paint — or maybe ink spots? — add some magical sparkle to this front.
What to expect: A collection of enchanting characters, a clever magic system, a dreamy love interest, and rich historical detail to name a few.
Why you should pick this book up: ENCHANTÉE is perfect for historical fiction fans and fantasy fans. It contains all the well-researched details of historical fiction and keeping true to the time period while having a well-developed magic system. They truly balance one another very well with a dash of 18th century science — it’s a tour de force. If you loved Dhonielle Clayton’s THE BELLES, the French Revolution, traditional fairy tales with a twist — this book will become your next favorite.
ATTENTION: IF YOU HAVE YET TO READ ENCHANTÉE do not continue reading. The following contains spoilers for the book.
Media Gal Reads’ Review:
As I mentioned above, I knew ENCHANTÉE was at the top of my 2019 TBR list when I read the summary and was grateful for it to be my first ARC I received through NetGalley. Specifically what attracted this story to me was this clever balance of history, magic, and science and how they impact and weave the book’s characters together.
Historically speaking, this book leads up to the events of what we know today as Bastille Day on July 14, 1789. This event was when the Bastille was stormed by the lower classes to obtain ammunition and gunpowder. This even later lead to abolishing feudalism and the creation of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (almost like the French version of the Declaration of Independence).
As we read closer, we learn that Camille’s father was a hopeful printmaker who created pamphlets against the monarchy and Camille is set to becoming a printmaker herself even in a time where women were not seen to have these intellectual occupations. Lazare, her handsome and charming love interest, may be an aristocrat by birth, but he is an inventor at heart creating a hot air balloon with his friends.
His belief in science, her belief in printmaking, and their ideas of revolution are all great examples of the Age of Enlightenment that would be occurring during this era. We continue to see this with visiting a salon and even the occurrence of the Tennis Court Oath, the famous event where the king would not meet with the Third Assembly (aka the common man), locked them out of Versaille, and instead hosted the event without him at the tennis courts (hence the name). Other details such as the appearance of Thomas Jefferson and Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, relate to greater world history as both were impactful on the American Revolution which occurred about a decade prior.
But we not only see history and science come alive, but magic as well.
Camille uses la magie ordinare to try to save herself and her sister from their drunk brother and from potentially living on the streets. The dress she uses drinks her blood, and while sometimes the magic seems to have questionable motives, other times it is quite supportive of her. The questions of using the magic to transform oneself’s physical appearance to sneak into Versailles made me think of Dhonielle Clayton’s THE BELLES — how far are you willing to go with magic before it starts to control you?
Another great detail is the acknowledgement of Charles Perrault who wrote Contes or fairy tales in 1600s France. His most well known works include Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, and Little Red Riding Hood. Camille acknowledges in the beginning that she is not a princess in one of Perrault’s fairy tales yet the clever use of magic including her dress made me think none other than the magic gowns in Cinderella (and depending on which version one may read or watch, the inclusion of a fairy godmother–as if Camille, who possesses her own magic, is her own fairy godmother or obtains her dress from her deceased mother, another Cinderella trope).
This combination of French history, Enlightenment science and social sciences, and the use of magic as related to Perrault’s fairy tales creates a fantastic YA historical fantasy. I am looking forward to the second in the series and what else Trelease has in store for us.
Have you read ENCHANTÉE? What did you think of it?