Enchantée (ARC) by Gita Trelease

Enchantée is Gita Trelease’s debut fantasy about an orphaned girl who uses dark magic to save her sister and herself from ruin – no matter what the cost may be. Enchantée was released in North America on February 5, 2019, and it promised to be filled to the brim with treacherous magic, decadent romance, and revolutionary mayhem.

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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DISCLAIMER: Thank-you to Raincoast Books for providing me with an Advance Review Copy of Enchantée by Gita Trelease in exchange for an honest review. 

Enchantée by Gita Trelease was marketed using three powerful and thought-evoking words – love, magic, and revolution. And while there is certainly magic at every turn, I felt that the romance was a sideshow to that magic, and that the burgeoning French Revolution was essentially a whisper in the wind – certainly not the thrilling plot points both promised to be.

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For her part, Camille is an intriguing protagonist, with a daring, passionate spirit. She is lovely and lonely at the same time, and the way she cared for her sister Sophie is sure to endear readers to her cause. Sophie, for her part, is equally endearing, yet also infuriating in her naivete and lack of conviction. Camille’s other sibling, her elder brother Alain, is somewhat more despicable. He is constantly drunk and relies on Camille, even for money to gamble and drink with. If this wasn’t bad enough, Alain also threatens violence on the girls, threatening that he’s prepared to send them to become sex workers to pay the family’s debts. He is every type of vile, and I highly doubt most readers will be able to stand him. Other characters of importance include Lazare, Camille’s romantic interest who is by all accounts a dreamer crazy about balloons and flying.

On that note, let us delve into the sweet yet lackluster romance of Enchantée by Gita Trelease. Camille and Lazare are undoubtedly a good pair – their relationship was incredibly sweet and they truly fit each other. Camille may be slow to trust, but she is passionate, and despite her best efforts not to be, she is a bit of a romantic. Lazare incredibly charming, dashingly good looking and had a big heart. I enjoyed how their romance blossomed naturally and grew through multiple encounters and flirtations – not an instant-love situation by any means. But that’s all their is to their romance – sweetness and sensibility. This romance lacked the passion and draw that I would have expected of an epic Parisian fantasy, leaving me disappointed and wanting more.

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As previously stated, the magic was undoubtedly my favourite part of this novel – honestly, probably the only part I truly enjoyed. The dark, dangerous thread of magic woven through this wonderfully vivid world that Gita Trelease has crafted are breath-taking and awe-inspiring – not to mention quite original. While the magic system itself is a bit murky to begin with, the reader gets to learn about it alongside Camille as she uncovers the secrets of magic her mother didn’t have time to teach her before her untimely death. And despite it being outlawed, magic does seem to be woven into every aspect of Camille’s – and Parisian life. From the streets, to courtiers and the royals themselves, magic seems almost omnipotent, giving Trelease plenty of opportunities to expose readers to the treacherous magic Camille wields.

But perhaps the thing I was most disappointed by was the almost complete lack of revolution. Yes, there’s a rally, and there’s mention of revolution, but Camille, Sophie, Lazare, and their opulent friends are at the sidelines, not really involved in things at all. I would be hesitant to even call them spectators, since much of the cast wasn’t aware the Revolution had even started until much later (because they were too wrapped up in affairs of court and personal matters). And honestly, this was quite disappointing, especially since the intrigue and danger of revolution were promised, but not delivered.

In conclusion, Enchantée by Gita Trelease was well-written, and presented a darkly lyrical account of a young girl navigating the social system of pre-Revolution Paris – while exploring the magic that made is possible for her to pull her family out of poverty. Beyond that, I found the romance and characters to be very one-dimensional, and the almost complete lack of revolution to be disappointing (2/5).

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