Other than Les Mis, I’ve never been interested in French history. Until I read Enchantée by Gita Trelease. The atmosphere of this book was so well developed, I’m itching to read more about Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution.
After her parents die, Camille Durbonne must rely on petty magic to provide for her younger sister and manage her drunkard of a brother. But la magie ordinare can only help her get so far. Using dark magic she inherited from her mother, Camille transforms herself into one of France’s aristocrats, the Baroness de la Fontaine, to gamble cards and cheat her way into a fortune. But court life isn’t all as it seems, and the deeper Camille finds herself in the glamorous lifestyle, the more danger she encounters.
Enchantée completely swept me away. I love historical fiction and I love fantasy, so when an author is able to combine the two in a stunning story, I’m absolutely thrilled. And this book definitely pulls through.
The magic in this book was fascinating. A magician has to use sorrow to conjure the magic, and the more magic one uses, the more drained they feel. The consequences are definitely high in this magic system, and Camille is not spared from them. The magic takes a heavy toll on her physical and mental well-being. The author utilizes the magic system in unique ways, paralleling it with the decline of the French aristocracy and crown shown throughout the book.
Camille herself is a remarkable character. Her main focus is to keep her sister, Sophie, healthy and safe, and she goes to great lengths to do so. I love books that focus on strong sister relationships, and while Sophie became a bit annoying, I love their strong connection. The other characters were great too. Lazare is the perfect swoon-worthy love interest, and I love how complex his character is. His friends, Rozier and Armand, were fun and I wish we had a little more time with them. The aristocrats—Chardon, Aurelie, Seguin—each add their own twists and contributions to the book and plot. Despite the amount of characters and their French names, it was easy to distinguish between them while I read.
The highlight of the book, however, is the descriptions and details of historic Paris and Versailles. This book overflows with lush writing that brings the story to life. I love when historical fiction sucks you and you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. Gita Trelease has a gift for doing this with her words, and it is breathtaking.
Filled with complex characters, lavish descriptions, and an interesting magic system, Enchantée far exceeded my expectations. Fans of historical fantasy stories such as The Last Magician, Fawkes, and The Gilded Wolves will not want to miss this one.