House of Marionne

Penguin/Razorbill. Aug. 2023. 432p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593527702.
Gr 7 Up–Raquell “Quell” Janae Marionne has been running and hiding with her mother most of her life due to dark magic, toushana, inside her. After a magical assassin called a Dragun finds them, Quell must leave her mom to keep her safe. Hiding in plain sight at her estranged grandmother’s estate, Chateau Soleil, the runaway learns about the glamorous magical boarding school for debutantes she was born into. Headmistress Marionne is Grandmom, making Quell the heir to the House of Marionne, one of four elite houses. Quell must pass three rigorous rites to bind her “good” magic to keep her dark magic away. This sounds doable, until she falls for her mentor Jordan—a Dragun in training himself, schooled to hunt and kill anyone with toushana. All that glitters in this dazzling world is not gold. Deep secrets hidden for many years, secrets that may be even more destructive than toushana itself, emerge. The enemies-to-lovers trope is tense; Quell must decide if she can trust Jordan with her secret. Jordan’s character could benefit from being fleshed out a bit as he vacillates often in his loyalties. The alternate POV of Yagrin is fascinating, adding an additional layer to the intensifying plot. Set in a faux New Orleans, characters are described with varied skin tones. Political themes of power and privilege are at play, in addition to classism. In this world of magic and mayhem, Quell is forced to make a big decision: embrace her dark magic, or find another path to stay alive.
VERDICT Genre readers will be drawn into Quell’s captivating and mesmerizing world; this is a must purchase where fantasy/magical stories are popular.

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