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…
Before I start my review, I really want to say that this story was beautiful. While it didn’t win me over, I have to say that it was well written. The author did her research on how life was like in this time period and it shows.
I really don’t know what I was expecting while reading this one. I expect the glam of Paris and to be thrown into magic and that’s what I got. We have magic, romance, and friendship. Like I said before I really did enjoy the writing. Trelease really captured the setting and made it vivid.
I won’t say that I liked Camille, but 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. The magic that she used while in Versailles wasn’t simple magic. To use it was to give it a piece of yourself.
“She’d thought magic a simple thing, once.”
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. What was she willing to go through. Was she willing to lose herself completely? Was she willing to become a completely different person because of how she felt while using it magic?
My favorite person in this book had to be 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.
With that praise, I still couldn’t give it more than three stars. I feel like this book could have been shorter. The beginning did take a bit to get into and it seemed to drag in some spots. Quite a few times I found myself really having to make sure I didn’t skim over some parts.
Overall, While it did fall flat for me in some areas, I did like the atmosphere and following Camille on her journey.
ARC provided for an honest review. Quotes are subject to change upon publication.