The Marvellers

by Dhonielle Clayton (Author) Khadijah Khatib (Illustrator)

The Marvellers
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade
Eleven-year-old Ella Durand is the first Conjuror to attend the Arcanum Training Institute, a magic school in the clouds where Marvellers from around the world practice their cultural arts, like brewing Indian spice elixirs and bartering with pesky Irish pixies. Despite her excitement, Ella discovers that being the first isn't easy--some Marvellers mistrust her magic, which they deem "bad and unnatural." But eventually, she finds friends in elixirs teacher, Masterji Thakur, and fellow misfits Brigit, a girl who hates magic, and Jason, a boy with a fondness for magical creatures. When a dangerous criminal known as the Ace of Anarchy escapes prison, supposedly with a Conjuror's aid, tensions grow in the Marvellian world and Ella becomes the target of suspicion. Worse, Masterji Thakur mysteriously disappears while away on a research trip. With the help of her friends and her own growing powers, Ella must find a way to clear her family's name and track down her mentor before it's too late.


This middle-grade debut will have readers buzzing as much for its best-selling author as for the desperately needed fresh take on magic schools.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
An enthralling fantasy adventure full of bravery, love, and humor.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

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)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.


A marvelous middle-grade adventure, indeed.

Review quotes

"The Marvellers deserves the highest compliment I can give a book: I want to live in this world. You can stop looking at admissions brochures for all those other schools of magic. The Arcanum Training Institute for Marvelous and Uncanny Endeavors is definitely where you want to apply." —#1 New York Times bestselling-author Rick Riordan

"Immersive, inclusive, and downright fantastical, this magical boarding school tale is going to shake up the fantasy landscape. Get ready!" —Nerdist

"A gorgeous world filled with enchanting characters, The Marvellers will dazzle readers from beginning to end!"—Kwame Mbalia, New York Times-bestselling author of Tristan Strong series

"A marvelous gift of a novel! With fantastical twists at every turn, Clayton has created a world that readers won't want to leave. The Marvellers is magical!" —Angie Thomas, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Hate U Give and Concrete Rose

Dhonielle Clayton
Dhonielle Clayton spent most of her childhood under her grandmother's table with a stack of books. She hails from the Washington, D.C. suburbs on the Maryland side. She is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Belles series, Shattered Midnight, co-author of Blackout, and the co-author of The Rumor Game and the Tiny Pretty Things duology, a Netflix original series. She taught secondary school for several years, and is a former elementary and middle school librarian. She is COO of the non-profit We Need Diverse Books, and President of Cake Creative, an IP story kitchen dedicated to diverse books for all ages. She's an avid traveler, and always on the hunt for magic and mischief. You can find her across social media @brownbookworm. The Marvellers is her middle-grade fantasy debut.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
May 20, 2022

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