Enchantée: An addictive tale of addiction

Enchantée by Gita Trelease science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsEnchantée by Gita Trelease science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsEnchantée by Gita Trelease

Enchantée (2019) is a young adult historical fantasy set in Paris, just before the French Revolution. Camille is a teenage girl whose family was ravaged by smallpox a few months past. Both of Camille’s parents died, her younger sister Sophie is still frail, and their brother Alain has descended into drink and gambling. Camille has one trick up her sleeve — her late mother taught her the art of turning scrap metal into coins by magic — but lately the magic hasn’t been working properly. The coins are changing back into scrap metal too quickly, so that no one trusts Camille anymore, and Alain steals all the real money to pay his debts.

Desperate to keep herself and Sophie from becoming beggars or worse, Camille opens her mother’s forbidden trunk and finds the tools that will allow her to pass as a noblewoman using glamoire, the magic of changing oneself. This, along with her ability to change objects at least temporarily, enables Camille to go to court at Versailles to gamble and hopefully win enough money to keep herself and Sophie in safety and comfort. She poses as a baroness to mingle with the aristocrats, and changes the cards in her hand into the ones she needs to win. Meanwhile, the “real” Camille is falling in love with a handsome young balloonist, Lazare.

Gita Trelease brings pre-Revolutionary Paris and Versailles to life with a wealth of period detail, from odd points of etiquette to fabulous dresses to buttery, flaky pastries. It’s easy to see why the luxe life is so seductive, even as Trelease also shows us the seediness behind the glitz, and contrasts the decadence of court with the wholesome wonder of flying in the balloon. The magic fits well into the setting, and is given a backstory that slots neatly into the real history of the Bourbon kings.

Gita Trelease

Gita Trelease

(You might be wondering, though, how Camille avoids turning one of her cards into a card that someone else already has in their hand. This is addressed briefly, about halfway through the book, and not really to my satisfaction.)

Camille is soon addicted to the thrill of the game and the new world that has opened to her. She makes more and more money, and yet it never seems to be enough. Maybe if she had just a little more, she’d feel safer. She’ll quit after this time. Really. Her lies threaten to catch up with her, and her two lives to collide, and it’s equal parts frustrating and nerve-wracking. I just wanted to shout CAMILLE, JUST TELL LAZARE THE TRUTH, IT WILL BE WORSE THE LONGER YOU PUT IT OFF, even though on another level I understood why she was dissembling. It makes for a terrifically tense reading experience.

The lack of a love triangle is refreshing. There’s another young man with designs on Camille, but while she has to deal with him in various ways, she never trusts or loves him.

All the while, the Revolution is brewing, and some of its early salvos appear in Enchantée. It was originally planned as a standalone, and if it had remained so, I would have wished for a little more Revolution content here. Trelease is now planning a sequel, Liberté, which will deal more with that time period. I found Enchantée addictive, and I look forward to Liberté and to finding out what role Camille and her friends will play in the events to come.

Published in February 2019. Love. Magic. Revolution…Gita Trelease’s debut fantasy about an orphaned girl who uses dark magic to save her sister and herself from ruin is “a soaring success” (NPR)! 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.

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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One comment

  1. This sounds like a layered and well-conceived book, with interesting characters. I think I’d like it. I think my friend’s granddaughter would too. I’ll tell her about it.

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