The Marvellers (The Marvellers #1)

Dhonielle Clayton, illus. by Khadijah Khatib. Holt, $16.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-250-17494-9

In Clayton’s (The Rumor Game) atmospherically told middle grade debut, Ella Durand, a Black 11-year-old from New Orleans, is the first Conjuror to enroll at the elite Arcanum Training Institute for Marvelous and Uncanny Endeavors. Marvellers, who live in the sky and are “born with marvels, light inside them that allowed them to perform magical feats,” have long considered their powers superior to those of Conjurors, keepers of the Underworld “born with a deep twilight inside them.” Though Ella faces many hurdles as the Academy’s first Conjuror trainee, she is determined to succeed and make her family—her politician father and Conjurer mother and grandmother—proud. After she boards a sky-ferry and dons her white Marvellian mantle, though, an already difficult cultural adjustment becomes even more troublesome when a notorious Marvellian criminal breaks free from an Underworld prison. As bullying and microaggressions from students and faculty worsen, and a beloved teacher goes missing, Ella and friends Brigit and Jason seek to clear Ella’s reputation—and the reputations of Conjure folk everywhere. Clayton imaginatively combines myriad global cultural traditions with an intersectionally inclusive, fantastical adventure that examines themes of acceptance, prejudice, and familial responsibility. Ages 8–12. Agent: Victoria Marini, Irene Goodman Literary, in association with Molly Ker Hawn, Bent Agency. (May)
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