It's rare for a magical, historical romp of a book to take on an issue this deep, and it does so with subtlety and compassion ... So often, historical fantasy feels the need to rewrite the entire world around magic. It becomes a litany of societies and rules and objects, often overwhelming the story itself. Enchantée paints its sorceries with a delicate hand ... The frequent descriptions of French desserts had me running to the bakery, and the gowns Camille wears to swan about Versailles are the silky stuff of dreams. The romance is also on-point: Camille's aeronaut, Lazare, is a perfect dreamboat — a reluctant aristocrat with a scientific mind and a penchant for showing off Paris from the sky. His half-Indian heritage has rendered him a sympathetic outsider, and his kindness and open adoration of Camille make him a true romantic hero — even though Camille is capable of saving herself, in the end ... a soaring success. I can think of no more satisfying way to fly across the years and enjoy a gilded view of Paris as it never was but could have been, with a little magic.
The many-tiered plot occasionally stalls, but this is an immersive, glittering debut that intriguingly blends history and fantasy. A striking examination of power, privilege, and choice in a limited world, that makes Trelease a new voice to watch.
With detailed descriptions and uneven pacing, the book sometimes feels overstuffed. Camille has a slow-burn romance with a biracial French/Indian balloonist, and race and racism are lightly touched upon. Camille’s first friend at court is gay, and here too homophobia is implied but is not explored in depth. Camille and other main characters are white ... Somewhat like its protagonist, Trelease’s debut at times falls a little flat despite its ideal trappings and never rises to extraordinaire.