464p. Flatiron. Feb. 2019. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250295521. POP
RedReviewStarGr 9 Up–Against the tumultuous backdrop of the French Revolution, two orphaned sisters, Camille and Sophie, struggle to survive on the streets of Paris. Possessing an inherited gift of magic from her once-aristocratic mother, Camille begins "turning" coins and cards for rent and food. When her debt-ridden, abusive older brother, Alain, steals their meager earnings, Camille is determined to save herself and Sophie. She conjures deeper, darker magic, creating a double identity, Baroness Cecile Descharlots, with a new appearance, elegant dress, and access to the gaming tables at Versailles. Even as she prospers and befriends courtiers and vicomtes, Camille's double life begins to fray. Her aeronaut boyfriend, Lazare, is hiding his own secrets. She suspects an ardent court admirer, Vicomte Seguin, of sinister intentions and destructive magic. Her pursuit of fortune in the royal court conflicts with her empathy for the common man. Then, Sophie disappears. Multiple threads of history are woven into this tale: the role and persecution of magicians in the French court; experiments with balloon aeronautics; contemporaneous attitudes toward women, queer folks, and biracial nobility; the opulent, decadent lifestyle of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI; and, the rising outrage of impoverished citizens. Informative historical notes and a French glossary are appended. Distinctive characters, vivid 18th-century images of Paris and Versailles, lively French-infused dialogue, an appealing heroine, and an upbeat ending propel this lengthy romantic fantasy.
VERDICT Romance and fantasy readers will enjoy the magic realism, ruse and tension of Camille's double identity, authentic historical references, and Camille's daring, passionate spirit. A must-have.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

Get access to 6000+ annual reviews of books, databases, and more

As low as $12/month