By Gita Trelease
Macmillan Children’s Books
Sci Fi & Fantasy, Teens & YA
UK Publication Date: 7th February 2019
In revolutionary France, Seventeen-year-old Camille is left to fend for herself and her siblings when they are orphaned. Her old brother is more a threat than a help, with his gambling debts and drink problem, while her younger sister is frail and recovering from illness. The only way Camille can survive is to use the petty magic she was taught by her mother, and which only Camille is able to perform. But turning fragments of metal to coins is not enough to survive, so Camille transforms herself into the beautiful Baroness de la Fontaine and enters into the opulent life of the rich in the Palace of Versailles. Camille becomes entangled in a double life, intending on playing just one more game, but there is always one more to play. She walks a fine line between her two lives, naïve in her understanding of magic and other magicians. But she is not the only one with terrible secrets.
I was deeply enchanted by this book. The settings of 18th century Paris and Versailles are described in vivid detail, with the downtrodden living parallel lives to the oblivious rich. I especially loved the wonderful descriptions of the rich who occupied the rooms and gardens of Versailles, with their sumptuous outfits and hair styles. And while the novel is a fantasy, the story takes place alongside the beginnings of the French Revolution, with real events and people laced into the story, making the lives of the characters seem all the more real.
I thought that the magic system of the novel was established really well, with the cost of performing magic becoming more apparent throughout the story. The magic draws on a sorrow, which is a dark and fascinating concept and adds to Camille’s character development.
Camille is a strong and determined young woman, who frequently puts herself at risk for those she loves. But she is naïve in thinking she is strong enough to resist the temptations she previously despised. I thought the story dealt well with issues of gambling and addiction, and how easy it is for someone to get swept away, despite the strength of their character.
There is an interesting cast of supporting characters, with their own secrets and motivations. Some of these characters Camille is at first determined to dislike on principle, but along with Camille, I grew to like and admire these characters.
I was entranced by this book and didn’t want to it to end. I would recommend this to anyone who likes to be swept away into a world of magic, love, and intrigue.
Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Children’s Books for the opportunity to read and review this title.