I love historical fiction books especially when they have magic involved so I was super excited when my request for this book was accepted on netgalley. Thank you to Macmillan Children’s book for sending me this book. It does not affect my review in any way.
Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:
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…
I really loved this book, there was great world building and I loved the characters so I was really invested in their story. The was a lot of intrigue and suspense and a major theme throughout the book was that everyone was hiding something so the deception kept me hooked. I wanted to know what was truly happening, who each of the characters truly were.
Each character had their own secrets for various reasons, from needing to blend in to keeping a loved one safe, and it made their deception grown until they were almost spiralling out of control. It really made me root for the characters and wanting them to work everything out.
I personally loved the romance in the story, even though there isn’t a lot of it, it felt very realistic for the time period it’s set in and honestly they were so adorable!
The world building was amazing, it was rich and intricate, so I felt like I was right there walking the streets with the characters. It shows Paris’ dark and bleak side where the common people live but also the glitz and glam of the aristocracy. It made it seem much more real.
I also loved how Gita incorporated true historical events and people into the story, from the revolution to Marie Antoinette to the hot air balloons. I especially loved how the hot air balloons were shown as the revolutionary event in the story as it was so accurate for that time and how the characters were so invested into making using a hot air balloon a reality. Their enthusiasm and zeal was completely addictive and it made me want to join them in the hot air balloon!
I was really glad to see that Gita accurately depicted the stark differences between the rich and the poor and how the rich often cared very little for the suffering of others. While Camille and Sophie had to deceive people to just be able to buy bread, the rich were gambling and drinking their days away. Showing this made it clear why the revolution happened.
I loved the diversity in the books and how it was portrayed from Lazare being half Indian and facing racism even amongst the aristocracy, with them making it clear that he is not their equal and Chandon having to hide his relationship because it was seen as unacceptable.
Although I loved the book I did feel it dragged a little near the end but it did not lessen my enjoyment of the book. Then the ending was a lot more fast paced and I loved the way it ended.
One thing I did love was that although there will be a book two, this book had a complete arc so you can technically read it as a standalone. I am most definitely looking forward to reading more and being back in this world as I so want to see what will happen with the characters during the revolution.
If you love historical fantasy books I highly recommend you pick this book up when it comes out in February!