A Fantastic Mix of Historical Fiction and Fantasy

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The Kingdom of Back is a very interesting and well-written mix of historical fiction and fantasy. Drawing on the true story of the Mozart children, Nannerl and Wolfgang and their creation of the imaginary world in order to entertain themselves, Marie Lu creates a modern fairy tale that blends reality with a darkly magical world of upside down trees and a mysterious boy named Hyacinth.

The writing is really what carries this book through. It is highly polished and flows easily, helping the story remain interesting from the first page to the last. The plot is fairly methodical and moves at a steady pace. It is a comfortable and good read, but nothing that felt particularly hard-hitting. The magical elements were thoughtful and whimsical with a lovely touch of darkness, but weren't as developed as I expected, making the fantastical element of the book feel diminutive compared to the historical side. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but certainly something for potential readers to prepare themselves for. This is a historical story with a touch of whimsy rather than a fantasy story with pieces of historical truth.

There were a few moments of surprise and several pieces of high tension, but the plot overall holds no super surprising twists. This may be partially due to the constraints of reality within which Lu had to weave her tale. Regardless, it places the book firmly in YA territory due to the level of predictability and sophistication.

I enjoyed my read without a doubt, but I was not blown away by it. I was impressed with the historical aspects of the novel and it did present something new for me in terms of a blending of genres. The historical accuracy of the plot and the creativity needed to bring forth the fantastical mix is what helped the book edge up in the ratings for me, pushing it from a 3.5 to a 4-star read.