by Gita Trelease
“Remember– magic is a cheater’s game, and everyone who sees it wants to play.”
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…
So here is my honest review. Firstly this story was beautiful. It did take me a while to get into the story as there was a lot happening from the very beginning. I have to say that it was well written. The author did her research on the time period and it showed in the descriptions and how the scene was set up.
I was expecting the glam of Paris and to be thrown into magic and that’s what I got. We have magic, romance, friendship, game playing and high stakes.
Although the main character wasn’t my favourite, I respected her. She did what she had to do for her family. She endured so much to make a better life for her and her sister even though it felt like she’d made things worse with every choice she made.
Seeing what she would go through to survive and for her family was amazing to read about. We also got to see her indifference. The more she used magic, the more she had to think about what was important to her.
My favourite person in this book was Lazare. He was struggling to find his place in the aristocratic court. He was of French and Indian descent and I was glad to see that here.
“The court of Versailles says I’m Indian. Why is it either/or? Can I not be both?”
I liked that we had questions of race and diversity here! Even though Lazare was an aristocrat, that didn’t make him immune from the whispers and racism.
I gave it 4 stars because although it was a good read the beginning was too slow for me and i felt like i was waiting for something to happen for most of the book. This book is beautifully written and really puts you inside the world of Paris at this time. Its vivid, magical and immersive. I really recommend this book if you love historical fiction and magic.
I was kindly gifted this book by Amber at Macmillan. My review is my own and i only speak my honest feelings on every book i read.