There are no spoilers in this review.
I’m French and therefore very biased, but I feel like France has a very interesting, complex history that could be explored in young adult books and… it seems like 2019 will be the very year for that. French-inspired young adult books are coming from everywhere this year (The Gilded Wolves, Enchantée, Serpent & Dove are coming to mind and more) and obviously I’m curious about them all. This is originally why I wanted to read Enchantée and this book ended up being an interesting read overall, but ultimately it fell a bit short for me.
A GREAT WORLD TO EXPLORE, 18TH CENTURY PARIS
Enchantée takes place in the 18th century in France. It’s Marie-Antoinette’s era, that moment right before the French Revolution and the Storming of the Bastille and so many moments I have learned during my school years about. This was such an interesting, conflictual and complex era of French History and the way it was explored subtly and with the addition of magical elements, made this such an interesting universe overall to create and to be in while I read this book. With the Palais de Versailles and its jardins, the Galerie des Glaces and Paris’ streets and bakeries, punctuated with the rural countryside and hot air balloon rides, this was a very interesting world to be in.
I obviously have to talk about the French language just as well that was spoken multiple times through the story and I have to say that I was glad for it, because if I spotted a couple flaws, I could count them on one hand, so yay!
INTERESTING CHARACTERS & SISTER RELATIONSHIP
The characters were interesting, flawed and imperfect yet still interesting to follow. Camille was a good main character, wanting more than anything to do good and to make life better for her sister and herself, too and I loved that about her so, very much. I appreciated seeing her change, grow confidence and develop as she started using her magic and going to Versailles to play cards, leading a double life to earn money for this better life for her and her sister. What I loved the most here, was how much she cared for her sister and that’s really what stood out for me and made me root for this book the most: the sister relationship and their bond.
Enchantée also gives us interesting side-characters, unfortunately I did not manage to get to know them too well. One character I appreciated, however, was Lazare. He is biracial (Indian and French) and I really liked him, getting to know him and I appreciated that passage about his identity, too, when he shared that he found himself hard to fit in because of the color of his skin.
A LITTLE too SLOW
Despite holding a very interesting premise and great roots for its characters, Enchantée failed to maintain my attention at times. The book felt a little long and the pacing a bit slow, as I found myself waiting for the real action to kick in. With such a fascinating setting (Paris on the cusp of the revolution!!) and a promising premise, I feel like this could have been more action-paced and somehow a more thrilling read overall. I felt like this book was building up towards a climax that eventually didn’t quite deliver.
Despite all of these great promises in its synopsis, Enchantée failed to make me feel enough for me to rate it higher than 3 stars. It still was an interesting read, but I didn’t feel compelled to it as much as I would have liked. Still, if you like slower historical fantasies and an interesting, 18th century Paris setting, you should definitely give it a try 🙂
Final rating: 3 drops!
The biggest thanks to MacMillan International & Flatiron Books for sending me a free advance reader’s copy of this book. This did not, in any way, influence my thoughts and rating.
Trigger warnings: slut-shaming, physical and emotional abuse, alcoholism, gambling addiction, blood depictions.
Diversity: Lazare, a main side-character, is bi-racial (Indian mother).
Gita Trelease, Enchantée, Published by Flatiron Books, February 5th, 2019.
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…
Did you read Enchantée? Do you want to?
Do you have any slower books that you’ve read but ended up enjoying? Any recommendations? Let me know in comments!