A massive thank you to Pan Macmillian for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This book caught my attention since I first saw ARC’s of it popping up on bookstagram. It looked gorgeous! And I seem to have a thing for stories that involve magic in our real world – so this was sure to be a hit for me.
Author: Gita Trelease
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Age Classification: YA
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: 26/02/2019
Australian RRP: $16.99
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…
I really enjoyed this story. It was a beautiful mix of historical fiction and fantasy. Fantasy with enough realism to make this ‘magic’ seem plausible. Camille was a fun heroine, even though we don’t necessarily agree with all her decisions. Sophie was a great supporting character, with her well placed quips and sarcasm, and the villain was an interesting development too. However I cant write a review of this book without mentioning Chandon and Lazare. I was initially worried we would develop a love triangle, however my suspicions were very quickly assuaged. These two men make this book. I looked forward to their scenes more than any other. The friendship Chandon built with Camille from the beginning was natural and beautiful – and watching how he mentored and tutored her made their friendship come live. Lazare is just a beautiful specimen and from the moment he and Camille meet, you know they are destined for greatness. Their instant connection some might deem as insta-love, but I like to look at it as more a meeting someone and knowing after that first meeting that you could talk about anything with them, and just want to be with them. I feel like their attraction and love grows more and more with each meeting. Nevertheless, I loved Lazare, and loved who he was in the story.
For possibly the first third of the book, I felt like we were reading two separate books. There was the balloon business with Lazare and his friends, and the gambling business at Versailles. I wasn’t sure if or how these two worlds would collide. This separation in the story probably made me take longer to read the book, in all honesty. I was invested in each individual side, but when the chapter ended and it was a completely different story, I had to reinvest myself all over again. It became much easier in the last half of the novel to not want to put it down. In fact I read the last half in one afternoon! Because of this, I do recommend sticking with the book if you find yourself not completely engrossed in the first half.
As mentioned earlier, I love stories using magic in our real world. I loved the use of magic in the historical aspects of the story, how magic was used to create and embellish works of art and architecture. Magic was a normal, if unspoken, part of this world, and it blended in seamlessly. What magic also did was show how addiction worked, weaving its way into lives without the person realising it. That was one of the main points I took away from the novel – be careful with any sort of vice or addition. Camille is weakened by the magic, but it calls to her, begging her to come and play again. The use of the magic in gambling was also very clever in this same way.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable read, once I moved past the first third. And that third was enjoyable – just a bit slower than the rest. There was never any doubt that we were in France, and I especially loved the French language included throughout! My rating for this book is 4 out of 5 stars. You can pick up your own copy here! 🙂
What boos have you struggled with initially, but then ended up really loving? Let me know! 🙂
Happy readings, loves!