Eleven-year Ella Durand, a intellectually curious conjuror, has just been selected to be the first Conjuror to attend the Arcanum Training Institute. A magic school that trains children from around the world in cultural arts. You see conjurors aren’t seen as equals in the world of magic. They are believed to possess a dark evil magic, but Ella’s father Sebastian has been working hard to change conjurors place in the magic world.
Young naïve Ella has no idea how the magic world really sees conjuror’s and is bubbling with excitement over attending the Arcanum. An excitement that is trample upon her arrival. Ella is an outcast. The other children are cruel, the teachers and administrators aren’t much better. But Ella is resilient and makes friends. But no matter how nice or smart she is, someone doesn’t want her there, and they will try their best to make her leave. There is something evil brewing in the magic world and it’s up to Ella and her friends to stop it.
I can’t even think of the right words to describe how reading this book made me feel. Let me start at the beginning. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. Back when I was married my husband and I went to Universal Studios/ Harry Potter world for our first anniversary. Like that huge of a fan. I believe that a writer has to have a unique talent to create an entirely new world. With new words, beliefs, and ideas. When an author successfully does this, it takes a book to a whole new level. Think J.R.R. Tolkien and Middle Earth.
While both Rowlings and Tolkien fictional worlds were amazing, they still lacked people who looked like me.
I’ve always thought “How cool would it be for little black children to have a magical world of their own?”.
I’m glad Dhoneille Clayton beat me to it. Because I could have never created what this woman created. This book was so amazing, it brings me to tears. I’m bringing you this review after one listen on audiobook, but you bet on me buying the actual book and re-listening to the audiobook again. Let’s get into it.
This is how diversity and inclusion works people. Dhonielle did a fantastic job of weaving in so many cultures and ethnicity. To Indian teachers teaching the importance of Spices in Magic, to Nigerians, Senegalese, and Ghanaian battle it out on who makes the best jollof rice. We are talking about some of the most beautiful woman wearing sparking jewel bedazzled hijab and klepto Irish pixies. The diversity written in a way that isn’t pushy but educational. Showing the beauty within the diversity. A story told so well you forget the race of the players and just enjoy the story.
This book shows you that inclusion or diversity isn’t just about race, that even when you think you’re among people who look like you, you can still be excluded based on religion or economic status and even skin color.
Dhoneille also shines a beautiful and insightful light on the hoodoo religion. Though the words Hoodoo are not mentioned in the book, Hoodoo doctors are also called conjures. Ella is protected by her ancestral saints and a bottle tree. Her family used roots, plants, song, and dance to conjure up their spells. Her father Sebastian even wears a black top hat. All of these things are used in the practice of Hoodoo.
Yes I loved the Marveller’s world. It was basically Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory in the sky. I love the courses taught in the Arcanum, such as Future Forecasting and Global Elixirs , and the different types paradigms the Marvellers could belong to and the type of magic the children possessed. A girl who knits the future I I loved that Ella was imperfect, showing bits of jealousy towards her best friend. But what I really love was how Ella and her family were portrayed. A smart black girl, adored and supported by her parents, admired by her little sister. Ella showed courage, kindness, and a resilience that made the reader feel like a proud parent.
I give this book a 5 out of 5.