ARC Review: Enchantée

This ARC was sent to me by the publisher at my request. The decision to review the book was my own. All thoughts and opinions in the following review are my own.

Enchantée
Author: Gita Trelease
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Publisher: Flatiron/Macmillan
Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis: Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.

But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…


Enchantée is an alluring debut novel from Gita Trelease that weaves its spell around the reader and transports them to the richly imagined magical Paris of 1792. From the small, run down family apartment on the poverty-stricken rue Charlot to the dangerously decadent parties and treacherous gambling tables at Versailles, we follow Camille Durbonne as she struggles to shed the weight of her misfortunes and create a better life for her sister and herself…at any cost.

Camille works la magie ordinaire to turn simple metal pieces into coins to support herself, her sister, and her drunkard brother. When her situation deteriorates, as tends to happen when you have a wasteral brother, Camille decides to work the darker magic of glamoire to transform herself into the Baroness de la Fontaine, thus gaining access to the gambling parties at Versailles. The more time Camille spends with the nobles at Versailles the harder it becomes to keep her two lives separate.

Some have said this book is predictable, and I will agree that at times it is. But this book reads so beautifully that it did not matter to me. I felt like I was walking through this novel with rose tinted glasses, everything was so deliciously described and exquisitely laid out that I didn’t notice any cracks in my path as I went along. One thing I’ve come to realize now that I’m done with the book is that there wasn’t a lot of character development in the side characters. Though I liked all the sides, they all lacked depth. Even the villain was pretty easy to spot and lacked the depth to make him truly villainous. But again, rose tinted glasses kept this from being bothersome to me.

I will say that the short chapters were the perfect fix for the pacing in this one. If the chapters had been 20 – 30 pages long like some books, I feel this novel would have felt like a slog. When I stepped back from the book after finishing it I realized that there was not much action in this book. But the quick chapter turnover gave the sense of urgency that kept me intrigued. There is also the slow build of revolution in the background of this story that pops in every now and then. And while I think it was well researched (I can’t say for sure how accurate the historical points were. I was stealthily reading paranormal romance books during my history classes in high school), the revolution honestly felt anticlimactic.

I think what surprised me most about Enchantée was the underlying current of addiction that ran throughout the story. Camille constantly has a running internal monologue about how much the glamoire takes from her and how she will stop once she has enough money. But as is usually the case with addiction, there is always another excuse to use again. (FYI: I have personal experience with addictions in various forms. I am not making this generalization lightly or without a base of knowledge.) Though there wasn’t a lesson learned about addiction and the resolution to the addiction in this novel was far too easy, it was still interesting to read Camille’s descent into the addiction of magic. I do wish that addiction could have been explored a little more in the story, but at the same time this is not the book to tackle the stark depths of addiction.

Enchantée is, at its core, a story about how hope and love can survive even through the darkest points in our lives. People make mistakes and hide truths and find themselves slowly draining away their souls to addictions, but there is still hope and love to be found.

I personally find Enchantée to be a strong debut novel from a promising author. Trelease weaves her words in such a way that one feels they are surrounded by the world they are reading. I thoroughly look forward to reading more from her in the future.

In which I finally review a book and that book is CARAVAL!

 

Do you want a book with two sisters escaping an abusive home to what is basically a carnival themed LARPing convention? Do you want a book with deliciously descriptive passages and scrumptious scenes that make you question if you want to stay in your reality? Do you want a book where you don’t know who to trust, especially the sexily secretive, rough and tumble love interest?

Then Welcome, Welcome to CARAVAL!!!!

“She didn’t realize how toasty it had been in the tavern until she escaped into the brittle evening. Crisp, like the first bite of a chilled apple, smelling just as sweet, with hints of burnt sugar weaving through the charcoal night air.”

First of all, I LOVE the writing in this book. The author, Stephanie Garber (who, for the record, is such a nice human), pieces together words in such a wonderous way. She weaves beautiful webs of descriptions that I often found myself stuck in them. I would stop reading and just stare in awe at certain passages. I fell straight from the pages of this book on to the streets of Caraval.

The main plot of the books revolves around Scarlett and Donatella Dragna (those NAMES!!), who find themselves at the mysterious Caraval. Donatella goes missing on the first night and it is up to Scarlett, with the assistance of Julian, the handsome sailor who helps Scarlett through Caraval, to find Donatella and beat the game. But who can Scarlett trust when everything is part of the game and you don’t know who the actors are?

And this is where my two main issues with the book come into play. While I love mysteries and the whole “Can I trust this person?” guessing game, it starts to wear on my nerves when EVERYTHING can be a lie or a trick. And I got just to the edge of annoyed with this book. It wasn’t overboard, but the constant threat of trickery started to wear thin by the end.

Which brings us to the end. That moment when the magic got sucked away in a sudden vacuum of truth. I felt like the big reveal of the story was rushed and every lovely bit of magic disappeared. Caraval was no longer a fun, twisty game, but simply a drawn-out ruse to help the Dragna sisters escape their miserable and abusive home life. If the execution of the ending had been a little better this would have been a five-star read for me.

At the end of the day, this was a solid four star read for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a carnival themed story. I liked all the characters, except Donatella who I wanted to smack every time she was on the page. I’ve heard a lot of people say they thought Scarlett was whiny but I just didn’t feel that way. I will say that though I am not a fan of Donatella, I am thoroughly intrigued for the sequel, Legendary! I’ll be going to the Launch Party tonight and I can’t wait to hear Stephanie Garber talk about this book!

 

My next review (Bad Things Play Here by Chani Lynn Feener) should be up by the end of the week! Until then, happy reading!