Enchantée was one of my most anticipated reads for 2019, right from when I heard it would be Versailles-based dark magic and romance, and it was even more wonderful than I’d hoped!
Book: Enchantée by Gita Trelease
Read before: Sampler of the first few chapters.
Ownership: Paperback proof provided free of charge by Macmillan for fair review. All opinions my own.
Release date: 21st February 2019. Preorder on Amazon here (affiliate link).
Ah, this book, you guys! It’s so good. I’ve always been fascinated by the glittering, dangerous games that can be played within courts, and the stakes get even higher when there’s magic involved. I also adore stories of girls and women who – regardless of their magical powers – have a spark of fierceness that makes them work to protect themselves and their own, so it’s pretty much as if this book was written to appeal to me.
Enchantée begins as if to be a sort of Cinderella story, following Camille, an impoverished orphan with a sickly younger sister and an alcoholic older brother, as she uses magic to insinuate herself at Versailles in order to better their lives. To do so, though, she must use her magic – which comes with a price – and of course, not all is stable at the French court. Camille is wonderful. She’s so determined to save herself and Sophie, and she’s clever enough to work out how to do it. I really enjoyed reading from her viewpoint, and was really rooting for her! I loved the different applications of magic that she could use, but my favourite was by far her magic dress, which could transform into any style imaginable – the descriptions of the different fabrics are so lovely and vivid.
Actually, the descriptions of everything in this book are just wonderful. Gita Trelease’s writing is warm and fluid, so you don’t notice the sentences slipping by, but can visualise everything perfectly. One of the characters that Camille meets is the enigmatic Lazare, who is building a hot air balloon, and the balloon sequences are just sublime. I loved how much more beauty Camille could find in the world when Lazare was around – he’s such a sweetheart.
But my favourite character was Chandon, who plays more of a supporting role, but who seems utterly beguiling and charming. I live for sarky-but-kind, rakish boys. I hope to see more of him in the sequel! I also very much liked Sophie, Camille’s sister, and the fact that she took her own steps to better her life, rather than submitting to Camille’s view of her as someone to be protected. Often in YA, the main character can be very much the centre of the only interesting things going on, so I liked that Sophie refused to be sidelined by Camille and had her own stuff going on.
I’m really trying very hard to be vague about the plot here, but I couldn’t put it down, and I think anyone who enjoys some good old court machinations should be very pleased. There’s romance, and danger, and excitement, and plenty of quiet character moments, and most of all, a real sense of a wholly realised world. I highly recommend it for those looking for historical fantasy! Five out of five cats.