Book Review | The Kingdom of Back

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Kingdom of Back

Author: Marie Lu

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 336

Categories: Magical Realism, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart. 

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 18th 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.

And 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.

I did not know what to expect when I borrowed this book. I wasn’t loving the title and this was going to be something new as the author had not written historical fiction before. I only read one series from her and that was Warcross.

But I was pleasantly surprised by this book! Nannerl Mozart is Wolfgang’s older sister, the one we never hear about since Mozart basically equals Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But he had an older sister and one who was accomplished at playing the clavier as well!

This story delves into her life but takes on a fantastical and magical twist. Nannerl wants to be seen too, she wants to be acknowledged as an accomplished talent as much as her brother is, but in a world dominated by men, she is second place. Then she makes a bargain with a magical being who promises he can make her immortal. Will all her dreams come true if she bargains with this stranger? Or will she lose herself and her brother?

  • I was skeptical of the magical realism in this book but hello…Marie Lu’s writing sucked me into this story so bad! It’s written like a fairy tale and it was so lush. The author’s love of Mozart and the music comes through into the writing as well. As someone who took piano lessons and was a big fan of Beethoven, I get her obsession with Mozart. These musicians made music that have lasted throughout time and it is magical.
  • The world building is wonderful especially since we get to travel with the Mozart family all over Europe. Today a popular musician would make millions and travel in style, but back then the Mozarts were just trying to make ends meet as their father’s ambition grew. It’s kind of a sad story.
  • It’s a story about a woman’s place in society, hundreds of years ago but it resonates in our time as well. Nannerl is talented but she’s a girl, which means she’s expected to listen, obey, be demure and marry at eighteen. She knows she will have to put away all her talent for composing after she is married.
  • Nannerl and her relationship with Wolferl is a beautiful yet complicated sibling relationship. They both are so talented and want to impress the world with their music. They also want the affection of their father who treats them like work horses to pay the family’s rent. 😒
  • Hyacinth – the liar. He did well playing both sides and it is revealed in the end of the story what he was truly after but yeah…he was a charmer wasn’t he? But I didn’t fall for it! Hyacinth’s world was well built and I enjoyed the tasks that he had Nannerl undertake. It just made me think of the Grimm fairytales or like Rumplestiltskin and stories in that vein.
  • The title explanation! After reading the book, now I love the title – it’s perfect!
  • At times I was so into the realistic side of Nannerl’s life, I almost wished it was pure historical fiction. But I think the author did such a great job blending the two worlds.
  • During reading this, I had flashbacks to the book Wintersong! 😱 You know, music and bargains with a certain Goblin King. And it seemed reminiscent because I was thinking wow, this Kingdom of Back reminds me of the movie, Labyrinth and it turn my thoughts took me to Wintersong.
  • There is no romance in this book which was awesome because the love between Nannerl and music was enough! ❤️

I am enchanted with this book. It really felt like something magical as I read it and it transported me into Nannerl’s world of music. It was almost like I was being transported to Narnia or The Never Ending Story because the writing is so lyrical. You can tell the author put her heart and soul into it because I felt it! I absolutely enjoyed this story and I’m glad I decided to read it.

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