In an alternate history, a teenage girl weaves magic to survive in revolutionary Paris.
Camille has always hated using la magie ordinaire, a magic that draws from sorrow to transform knickknacks into coins—a necessity to make ends meet for her and her sister since her parents died of smallpox. When their abusive addict brother steals their meager savings, Camille resorts to a darker magic—a dress and makeup enchanted by magie bibelot—to transform her appearance and, combined with la magie ordinaire, becomes a practiced gambler at Versailles, where she falls in with a small group of card-playing aristocrats. But all is not as it seems, and as she becomes increasingly addicted to la magie and the French Revolution looms, Camille discovers she’s not the only magician at court. 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. (glossary, historical note) (Historical fantasy. 12-18)