In book review enchantee re

REVIEW: Enchantée


Title: Enchantée
Author: Gita Trelease
Genre(s):  Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: February 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

"This was the Paris of the strivers, of those who dwelt low, not high.
This was not the Paris of balloonists. 
It was her Paris, and it was the same as it had been this morning.
But she, perhaps, was not."

I first heard about Enchantée in 2018, and fell in love with the cover (I mean, who wouldn't, come on...). I'm a huge history buff so the premise, set during the French revolution, sounded great to my ears! Enchantée did just what the title teased it would, this story was an enchanting, magical fairytale.

What is this book about?
Enchantée follows Camille, who lives in the poor backstreets of Paris. When her parents die of smallpox, and her brother deserts the army to succumb to his alcohol addiction, Camille is left to take care of her ill sister. She uses tame magic "la magie ordinaire" to create an income, and give her sister and herself the care she needs. But when that no longer suffices, Camille has to go somewhere else for money. Using her mother's ancient darker magic, she transforms herself into Baroness de La Fontaine to blend in with the French high society at the court of Louis XVI. At first, providing for her and her sister is all that's on her mind, but when she meets a young balloonist by the name of Lazare, a dangerous hope starts breeding inside Camille that can't wait to get out. 

"Disorder is the beginning of change, Papa had said. 
When taxes rise, when the harvest fails, and bread prices rise: 
see what happens."

What did I think of Enchantée?
Enchantée was everything I hoped it would be and more. I know people say "don't judge a book by a cover" but I still kind of do that from time to time (don't blame me!). However, this gorgeous cover lived up to a gorgeous story. Paris during the French revolution has always insanely intrigued me. I love the rich atmosphere that the author describes when it comes to the lavish court in Versailles. This, in combination with the stark contrast to the gritty and dark streets of Paris really set the tone for this story.

Plot-wise, this book reminded me of a Disney movie in the nicest way possible. Camille's quest in Versailles really had that Cinderella-esque feel. Mix this with the interesting, but relatively simple magic system, it worked very well. I'm always a little apprehensive when it comes to fantasy stand-alones because of the way it needs to wrap everything up in the span of one single book. Whereas duologies or series would have numerous books for world-building and setting up the plot, this all needs to be done within one when it comes to a standalone. Pacing is something I find extremely important in general, but more so when it comes to books like this. I can honestly say there wasn't a boring moment in this book. Because the magic system was relatively simple, there wasn't too much of the book devoted to explaining it, which I loved. The beginning pulls the reader right into 1789 Paris, and there isn't a dull moment since. 

Character-wise, I loved Camille's character. She's a great heroine, and a very human one at that. Her constant responsibility for her sister, as well as the selflessness and her imperfections made her really likeable to me. Also really nice was to see that her brother didn't actually get a redemption arc despite being her family. It bothers me when authors try to excuse abusive behavior, and there was none of that with this book. Beware that there's a trigger warning though when it comes to alcoholism and physical abuse!

Romance-wise, I adored Lazare as a love-interest and as a character. I loved their romance together and I their interactions were SO CUTE! Lazare's kind, smart, and intelligent, which I much prefer to the broody dark male love-interest that is often presented in YA literature. Their dynamic felt really fresh, I loved it! Lazare is half Indian, and the book briefly addresses racial tensions, which I find not a lot of historical YA fantasies tend to do very often, so I thought that was refreshing! Because of how soon they met, there was a danger of the romance feeling a little insta-lovey, but because this is a standalone, and due to the fairytale-like atmosphere and feel of the story, this didn't necessarily bother me.

Because the plot was so magical and well-paced, I wasn't bummed that there wasn't much of the actual revolution going on. As much as I love history, I don't go into historical fantasies for the historical accuracy. I thought this book was a really refreshing take on this time-period, and an absolute gem (especially considering this is a DEBUT novel, like whaaaat?) in the YA standalone department. I will 100% read Gita's next novel, and this book has now been added to my 'favorites' list! J'ADORE! 

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