Review: House of Marionne by J. Elle


Magical Realism



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.


When I read the book blurb of House of Marionne I was really intrigued. It boasted of magical secret societies and dark academia so I had really high expectations going into the book. Unfortunately House of Marionne did not live up to my standards. While the premise held great potential and sparked my interest, the execution of the plot left much to be desired. In the past, I had read J. Elle’s Wings of Ebony series. Although I wasn’t a fervent fan, I found elements to appreciate and chose to overlook certain weaknesses, considering it was her debut series. However, encountering many of the same flaws that hindered my enjoyment of The Wings of Ebony in House of Marionne was disheartening.

The magic system depicted in House of Marionne held immense potential, yet I found J. Elle’s execution of it to be lacking. It failed to captivate my interest as I had hoped, leaving me constantly yearning for more and leaving unanswered questions in its wake. The world-building felt sparse, and the writing itself failed to evoke any sense of joy or excitement. I believe it would have greatly benefitted the story if the author had integrated the histories of The Houses directly into the narrative, rather than relegating them to the end of the book as a glossary. This would have added depth to the plot and enriched the reading experience. Unfortunately, the plot itself felt shaky, and the actions of characters like Quell’s mother and grandmother lacked believability.

Also I never really understood how The Order’s governing system actually worked. It was overlooked and never explained properly. Though the author always mentioned The Order being so powerful I never really got a sense they actually were. Also I didn’t understand the inclusion of diadems and masks as they served no purpose at all. The greatest disappointment was the magic system. It had a lot of potential but wasn’t done justice.

Quell’s character in House of Marionne was unfortunately lacking in depth, making it difficult for readers to form any significant attachment to her. It felt as though Jordan, the love interest, was merely a plot device rather than a fully fleshed-out character, only serving to provide some depth to Quell’s perspective. I found myself questioning the necessity of Yagrin’s point of view. Did it truly serve a purpose in advancing the plot or contributing to the overall narrative? Additionally, the romance between Quell and Jordan felt lukewarm and unconvincing, failing to evoke the desired emotional connection between the characters.

It is indeed disheartening when a book like House of Marionne, possesses significant potential but falls short of fulfilling its premise. I felt as though J. Elle failed House of Marionne with numerous plot holes and a lackluster overall execution. It is unfortunate when a promising concept fails to reach its full potential due to weak execution and unresolved issues within the narrative.

My sincere thanks to Netgally, Penguin Young Readers Group, Razorbill and J. Elle for providing me this advance reader copy.

Book Cover:

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