Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Books I've Read: Enchantee


I seem to have been reading a lot more historical fiction recently and this book continued the trend.

Set during the French Revolution, Enchantee blends history and fantasy to create a world in which magic exists and can be used, but not in any big ways.  Magic here is ordinary, everyday magic.  the MC Camille can only do small things like convincing a shopkeeper that the rusty nail she uses to pay for her bread is in fact a coin.  But magic draws on sorrow and takes a toll on her.  If she is going to get out from under her drunkard brother's thumb and keep what little money she has left from being gambled away, she needs to do something bigger. When she discovers she can create the same kind of illusions with playing cards, she decides to use the skill to gamble her way out of trouble.

The problem is, the rich pickings aren't at the local gambling halls but at the glittering palace of Versailles and unless she is a noblewoman, she will never get in.  She disobeys her dead mother and unlocks the dark magic she hit away in a charred trunk.  It works better than she expected and she is soon comfortable rubbing shoulders with the aristocracy in Versailles.  And the gambling is intoxicating, even as she fails to heed the warnings of two others who possess the same ordinary magic.

As Camille becomes deeper entrenched with the aristocracy, she struggles to reconcile her new friendships with the ideals of liberty and democracy she has always believed in.  Things are further complicated when the attractive young inventor with whom she has struck up a friendship shows up at Versailles and is known by and well-liked by her aristocratic friends.

As the revolutions grows ever nearer and the streets of Paris grow loud with calls for the overthrow of the monarchy, Camille must decide which secrets she needs to keep, and which she can afford to let go.

I enjoyed this book a lot more than I was expecting to.  The blending of magic and reality worked well and I never found myself disbelieving the situations Camille found herself in.  The supporting characters could be drawn better and have more distinct personalities, but as they flit in and out of the story intermittently, it does not really detract from the enjoyment.

If you like mildly fantastic stories grounded in historical reality, this one just might be fore you.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

Paris is a labryinth 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 younge 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.


  1. Sounds like an interesting twist on French history.

  2. What an inventive way to add magic to history. Sounds like a fascinating read.

  3. I've enjoyed historical fiction fantasy hybrids in the past—it's cool how they're melded together. This book definitely sounds like one I would like.