The Marvellers

Holt. May 2022. 416p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250174949.
Gr 3-7–Eleven-year-old Ella Durand is excited to be the first Conjuror to attend the Arcanum Training Institute for Marvelous and Uncanny Endeavors. At the institute in the sky, aspiring Marvellers from all over the world study and hone their skills with the hope of being sorted into one of five paragons: touch, vision, spirit, sound, and taste. Unfortunately, Ella has to contend with her classmates’ preconceived notions of Conjurors being unnatural, bad, and untrustworthy. Despite a few missteps, Ella makes new friends, excels in her class, and learns from her favorite teacher and mentor. Things take a turn for the worse when the Ace of Anarchy, an infamous criminal, escapes from prison. People assume the escape was with a Conjuror’s help, making them even more suspicious of Ella and her fellow Conjurors. As if things weren’t bad enough, Ella’s beloved mentor also disappears. It’s up to Ella and her friends to get to the bottom of things and prove once and for all that she belongs. Ella is an inspirational heroine who has the formidable task of being the first Conjuror at the institute. Though her classmates’ snide comments upset her, she doesn’t back down from them, stares right back when they glare at her, and speaks up for herself and her friends. Thanks to the unique magic system and the descriptive worldbuilding, readers will find themselves transported. As with many description-heavy fantasy texts, readers should expect a steady yet entertaining read. This novel is an exemplary example of diversity with a Black girl protagonist, and characters representing a variety of cultures, skin tones, gender identities, sexual orientations, and religious affiliations.
VERDICT This fun, immersive tale is a must-purchase for all collections.

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