Enchantress of Paris
by Marci Jefferson
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Page Count: 336
How got: free copy from NetGalley for review
First attention getter: historical fiction about lesser known female figure and pretty necklace on cover!
Fraught with conspiracy and passion, the Sun King's opulent court is brought to vivid life in this captivating tale about a woman whose love was more powerful than magic.
The alignment of the stars at Marie Mancini's birth warned that although she would be gifted at divination, she was destined to disgrace her family. Ignoring the dark warnings of his sister and astrologers, Cardinal Mazarin brings his niece to the French court, where the forbidden occult arts thrive in secret. In France, Marie learns her uncle has become the power behind the throne by using her sister Olympia to hold the Sun King, Louis XIV, in thrall.
Desperate to avoid her mother's dying wish that she spend her life in a convent, Marie burns her grimoire, trading Italian superstitions for polite sophistication. But as her star rises, King Louis becomes enchanted by Marie's charm. Sensing a chance to grasp even greater glory, Cardinal Mazarin pits the sisters against each other, showering Marie with diamonds and silks in exchange for bending King Louis to his will.
Disgusted by Mazarin's ruthlessness, Marie rebels. She sacrifices everything, but exposing Mazarin's deepest secret threatens to tear France apart. When even King Louis's love fails to protect Marie, she must summon her forbidden powers of divination to shield her family, protect France, and help the Sun King fulfill his destiny.
Star Rating - 3.5 Stars
I anticipated this book’s arrival like nuts; any historical fiction about a lesser known female figure is always appreciated. Exploring the opulent world of Louis XIV’s court also makes me smile. When I saw it offered on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read and review.
The author pleases in the atmospheric and story areas. The shifting alliances and intrigue of court politics appears front and center throughout the entire book. The characters only have a very few people they can completely trust; even family can stab you in the back. Those features kept me turning the digital pages like a whirlwind.
The author’s attention to historical detail and the timeline, I also appreciated. She explores an area of French history often neglected, giving us a window into a court in flux as the old regent powers that be are waning and the young Sun King is rising. I lived and breathed the times along with the characters. I appreciate that the author didn’t try to change historical events to give us a preferred ending; she stuck with the actual historical events, which this history buff explored.
The characters, I’m a bit mixed on. I had a hard time empathizing with Louis and Marie. I found the king a teenager brat who liked to throw his status around in vain attempts to get his own way; a dandified Louis throwing a temper tantrum, beating feet and fists on the floor, came to my imagination. Maybe it was his age as a younger individual, before he got all his power, but I just didn’t like him at all.
Marie, I liked a bit more. There were times where she also acted like a love struck teenager, having teenage hysterics and melodrama to try and get her own way. There’s nothing else that will turn me off a character faster than that. Yet, she at least showed some change in maturity as the story went along. I liked the flashes of intelligence and strength of will I occasionally got from her.
A lovely look at 17th century France, this book shines in its attention to detail and enthralling story. The characters I wasn’t so hot-to-trot for, but Marie at least showed some promise. I’d probably not pick this book up again for a re-read; once was enough. Yet, it’s still a pleasant read for historical fiction lovers.
Note: Book received for free from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.