Quell has been on the run and in hiding with her mom for years. But when someone finds them, she runs to Chateau Soleil, a magical boarding school run by her estranged grandmother. There, separated from her mother, she learns there is a way to get rid of her dangerous magic once and for all and she throws herself into her studies to make it happen. Along the way, she finds friends in her bubbly roommate Abby, her brooding mentor Jordan, and a mysterious outsider named Octos. But all is not what it seems at Chateau Soleil and what she finds out will change the course of her life.
A YA romantasy paired with dark academia vibes and the opulence of debutantes and cotillions, this story is filled with so many amazing things to love. The tone is set from the very beginning, pulling you into a world in which you can’t believe anything that you see.
Told mostly from Quell’s POV, the author is able to build a world of magic that lives adjacent to the world we know, teaching us its rules as she discovers them as well. Even as we dive into a world of magic unlike our own, the story is grounded in familiar themes - the feeling of never fitting in, familial love and obligation, first love - and provides a beautiful road map on the journey of self-discovery and coming into one’s own.
The stakes were high, the tension was palpable, and the characters really brought the story to life. I felt on edge throughout Quell’s journey at Chateau Soleil, never fully feeling comfortable enough to trust any of the characters she interacted with. And not only does she have to deal with learning this magic and etiquette that all the other inductees around her have been immersed in for ages, she still has to battle the same issues that our teens face today - cliques, bullies, and school politics.
Oh, and that surprise reveal in the final chapter? That was just rude and unfair and I can’t believe I have to wait for the next book to find out what happens next!
If you loved a certain magical boarding school as a kid but have disavowed it due to the problematic author, HOUSE OF MARIONNE by J. Elle will fill the void it left behind with a new glittering magical world to fall in love with. Pick up your copy here and commiserate with me as we wait for the next installment.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will also be supporting indie bookstores like my local fave Linden Tree Books without whom this review would not be possible! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."