Set in 1789 in Paris and Versailles, Enchantée mixes the French Revolution, a well-developed female main character, and magic to charm readers in this historical fantasy. She places her reader in the known historical world quite vividly, from the perspectives of both aristocrats and the poor. Yet, this familiar court of Marie Antoinette, of the storming of the Bastille, of carriages and gowns, fabulous hats and ludicrous royal diversions has a new, sinister thread running through it: magic, that can be accessed only through collecting sorrow and worse. Trelease does a good job making this fantastical element believable and exciting. She uses rich language to bring alive this world that exists a few degrees away from reality.
Early on in the novel, Camille, the 21-year-old woman whose dangerous tip into poverty and despair motivates the plot, meets an unusual boy in the most unusual of circumstances. She saves him from plunging to his death by grabbing hold of the gondola of his hot air balloon. This brand-new method of flight—dangerous and experimental—becomes a metaphor for the novel’s theme of rising to new heights, as a society, an individual, a dreamer. Trelease describes this crucial boy thus: “But what was most striking about him was that his whole face was animated with a kind of light that made him the most alive thing in the landscape, as if an artist, sketching out the scene, had used a gray pencil to draw everything except one figure, on which he’d lavished his richest paints.” This skillful writing combines with an enjoyable plot and love story to make a highly recommended read.