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…
Books that take place in Paris will also catch my attention. There’s just something about it that makes me turn my head and seem so magical. Plus, this book takes place in 1789 which was just more incentive for me read it! I was lucky enough to get an e-ARC from the publisher (!!!!!! I know! My first time getting an ARC from a publisher!!!) and was looking forward to reading it.
I’m pretty sure this is one of the first historical fiction books that I didn’t feel stifled by the time period. I also get stuck on the etiquette of the time and usually get bored or uninterested. This book features such a strong cast of characters, that I think the time period wasn’t such a big deal for me. They are all so well rounded and interesting that I wanted to know more about them.
Camille was strong, but incredibly flawed and human. She was just trying her best, but her decisions weren’t always the best. Sophie was the the freaking cutest ever. She didn’t have a huge role, but she still managed to capture my heart. Lazare didn’t show up as much I would have liked him to and his struggles seemed very back ground to me, but he still seemed very well rounded.
This book takes a soft approach. There’s nothing face-paced about and it takes things at a slow pace. This softness both hurt and helped the story. It was able to capture the heart of Paris and Versailles beautifully. It was able to pack a punch without fast paced action around every corner. Swings are taken with words, not with swords.
I found that were multiple plots lines and themes running through the book. They never seemed to intertwine enough and none of them seemed to take the lead. So many things were very subtle, such as the magic system, the court games, and the sense of feeling trapped in your own life. They were all there and done well, but none of them stood out. This book didn’t have an overwhelming theme and things just didn’t connect enough for me.
Despite this, I fell in love with Camille and 1789 Paris. It was interesting to see significant historical events that I vaguely remember taking place haha. There are also French words scattered throughout the writing, which I thought was really fun! I took French two years ago and it was cool to use my very limited knowledge here.
This story was so vivid. The writing is beautiful and the setting comes to life. I loved reading about hot air balloons and the struggles that Camille went through. I wish her, Sophie, Lazare, and friends the best life, cause they certainly deserve it.
Thank you for reading!