I almost posted another review today, but it’s International Women’s Day, so I knew I had to do a review of a book by one of my favorite female authors about one of my favorite women in history!
From the Jacket Flap:
Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish: to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in eighteenth-century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age – her tyrannical father has made that much clear.
As Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true – but his help may cost her everything.
Marie Lu’s new book arrived at the store last summer in the form of an ARC, I do believe I squealed loudly. And repeatedly. And then I started it reading it, and proceeded to talk about it for the next seven months. Seven months I’ve had to keep this one to myself. It was TORTURE. Torture I tell you. Every time someone would come into the store and ask for Legend, The Young Elites or Warcross, and asked if we liked them, I would say, “Yes, but her upcoming one is simply THE BEST.”
And it is. The best. Marie is one of my YA Fab Five and has been for some time, but with The Kingdom of Back, she elevated her writing to a new level. The book is written like a love letter to classical music and the instruments that are so well suited to it. It’s like a sonata in words, the lines of the score woven through Marie’s word choice.
When I was a young girl, I had so many books about countless composers and I just couldn’t get enough of their stories. And to the authors’ credit, nearly every time Wolfgang Mozart comes up, Nannerl is mentioned as his sister, a harpsichord player. And for me, as a piano player from the age of 6 and violist from the age of 8, classical music is practically woven into my DNA at this point, so every time is plays into a book, particularly by an author I love, I get a special twinge of excitement.
Nannerl is a strong and unique young woman, desperate to do everything she can to extend her freedom and ensure her immortality through her music. Her discovery that the world she and Wolfie would go to in their games was “real” shakes her a bit, but also excites her. The princeling that she meets in the world of back reminds me of one of my favorite literary characters, the impish Peter Pan.
All of the characters, from the cruel Mozart patriarch to little brother Wolfgang, are fully realized and I felt like I was instantly transported to their home in Salzburg. I can’t wait for the rest of the world to read and enjoy The Kingdom of Back and am even more thrilled that customers I’ve been telling about it have already come back to tell me how much they enjoy it!
Rating: 7 out of 10
Where to Buy
In the USA, I recommend purchasing through IndieBound or your local independent, in the UK, and many other parts of the world, I recommend Blackwell’s, and if neither of those cover where you live, I recommend checking out your local booksellers! Independent bookstores are vital parts of every local community and I wholly endorse supporting your local stores versus Amazon.