Book Review: House of Marionne by J. Elle

I loved this ARC so much that I pre-ordered the hardback; the first time I’ve done that with an ARC. House of Marionne hit all my boxes and executed them to perfection. I haven’t read much YA in my past but some of the new releases, like this one, are so exciting that I am starting to change my mind on the genre.

House of Marionne is dark academia done right, a magic school that’s fresh and far from the usual derivative takes. Quell Marionne has spent her childhood on the run with her mother from the opulent, hidden-in-plain-sight magical world that sired them. That’s because Quell has forbidden death magic running through her veins, called toushana, which turns everything she touches into ash, or so she thinks, at first. There is more to toushana than the Order wants their members to believe.

People found with toushana in their blood are marked for death, stalked by a sect of assassins known as the Dragun. One such assassin is on Quell’s tail. When he finally catches up to her after years of poverty and countless moves, Quell separates from her mother and does the only thing she can think of – hide in plain sight right in the dragon’s den.

She enrolls at a school that trains people how to use their magic, a veneer of wealth and power interlaid with our real one. It’s run by her grandmother, who expects her to become her heir when she finishes her training, but all is not as it seems. After her life on the run, she’s thrust into this luxurious academic world full of secrets and betrayals, all while fighting a growing attraction to her mentor, a brooding, grumpy Dragun who is duty-bound to kill her if he discovered her true secret.

The characters in this were all wonderful, the writing style vivid and engaging. I loved the growing chemistry between Quell and Jordan, her mentor; enemies to lovers with a very satisfying slow burn arc full of smoldering glances, stolen kisses and intrigue. I was most intrigued by the universe that the author created; fresh, different, rich and visceral. A mix of urban and high fantasy blended together, a twist on the usual tropes.

Definitely one of my favorite books of the year; I highly recommend this one. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series already.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance review copy. I am leaving this review voluntarily.