Book Review: House of Marionne by J. Elle

About the Book:

Title: House of Marionne

Author: J. Elle

Page Length: 400

Publication Date: Aug. 29, 2023

Publisher: Razorbill


17 year-old Quell has lived her entire life on the run. She and her mother have fled from city to city, in order to hide the deadly magic that flows through Quell’s veins.

Until someone discovers her dark secret.

To hide from the assassin hunting her, and keep her mother out of harm’s way, Quell reluctantly inducts into a debutante society of magical social elites called the Order that she never knew existed. If she can pass their three rites of membership, mastering their proper form of magic, she’ll be able to secretly bury her forbidden magic forever.

If caught, she will be killed.

But becoming the perfect debutante is a lot harder than Quell imagined, especially when there’s more than tutoring happening with Jordan, her brooding mentor and— assassin in training.

When Quell uncovers the deadly lengths the Order will go to defend its wealth and power, she’s forced to choose: embrace the dark magic she’s been running from her entire life or risk losing everything, and everyone, she’s grown to love.

Still, she fears the most formidable monster she’ll have to face is the one inside.

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon

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My Review:

This novel had a really interesting premise, but, unfortunately, it was not for me. I’m glad I buddy read it with Leah @ Leah’s Books because I think if I hadn’t, this might have been a DNF for me. Though it sounds different from the author’s debut duology, I felt like the overall premise was very similar, and that, among other things, prevented me from fully embracing the story..

The story, which reads much younger than I expected (think more MG or lower YA), begins at a fast pace with a lot of action and danger. But the pacing changes just as quickly as Quell enters a magical prep school with a strong focus on etiquette.

For a seventeen-year-old who has been on the run for most of her life, Quell is not very savvy, and her naiveté is unrealistic. I was surprised at how little she questioned, how gullible she was, and how easily she was manipulated. She does so many things that just make no sense, and I didn’t really like her character. She trusts way too easily for someone who is supposed to be so aware of her surroundings. I did, for the most part, like the enemies-to-lovers romance between Quell and Jordan, her mentor. It was a gradual progression, and there are several scenes that were very romantic and sweet.

The magic system is interesting too, but much like the characters and plot, it is a bit underwhelming. And the novel includes so many contradictions, and numerous plot points went against truths formed earlier in the story. I found myself constantly questioning things that weren’t supposed to be questioned because the text contradicted itself from one scene to the next. There were also instances where it felt like something was just arbitrarily thrown in to move the story forward with no real context or explanation. It felt random and forced.

Ultimately, I think the story is trying to do too much. It’s a dark academia that mainly takes place at a finishing school where students must pass three trials and take etiquette classes and host elite functions while also honing their magical gifts. And Quell, who masters the tasks in days while her peers need years of training, is being hunted, and her mom is missing, and she has a moody, broody mentor whose job is to hunt people like her, and there’s an orb that’s cracking that could destroy their magic forever but no one knows where it is, and people with magic start going missing, and she has to meet the expectations of her demanding and shady grandmother, and she’s hiding a dark magic that puts her life at risk, all while trying to pass her classes and make new friends. It’s. A. Lot. I think that’s why, for me, everything felt very surface-level and in need of more detail, fine-tuning, and development.



Favorite Lines:

Duty is the honor of the willing.

If this world is made of glass, I will dance with a hammer in my hand.


  • enemies-to-lovers
  • hidden magic
  • dark academia

11 thoughts on “Book Review: House of Marionne by J. Elle

  1. Great review Julie! You absolutely nailed it with the pacing and how we were always questioning so many things that we weren’t supposed to be questioning. And you know that Quell mastering skills in days that take years to learn was my own personal pet peeve too!

  2. Too bad this didn’t work for you, Julie. We can’t love them all, and your explanation and reasons will help others to decide if it still might be one they would enjoy.

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