Reading Marie Lu’s first historical fiction and discovering the secret, enchanting world of The Kingdom of Back was an absolutely outstanding experience! This is the first book I have read by this author and I loved this totally surprising and magical journey into 18th Century Europe, the lives of Nannerl Mozart and her younger brother Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and their secret world of the Kingdom of Back. The story of Nannerl Mozart and her desire to be remembered forever as not only a gifted musician but as a talented composer immediately pulled me. The magical plot captured my full attention and the enchanting world of this fairy tale left me in awe of the beautifully, descriptive writing style of this very talented author. The Kingdom of Back is a standalone story and it is told from Nannerl’s point of view. “I am the sister, the other Mozart. And her story is mine.”
Nannerl Mozart is a very talented young woman living in 18th century Europe. She dreams of becoming a composer but knows that as a woman she is only allowed to perform until her father decides she’s at a marriageable age. With each year that goes by she watches her gifted younger brother, Wolfgang Mozart, become increasingly more talented and more popular. One night Nannerl makes a secret wish to be worthy of being remembered and not be forgotten. This secret wish leads to a fairy prince named Hyacinth, an enchanted forest filled with edelweiss, and the the chance to have her dreams come true. However, first Nannerl must play a game. The fairy prince tells Nannerl to be careful of what she wishes for and warns her that wishes often have the habit of surprising their makers. Will Nannerl play the game Hyacinth requires? Will her wishes come true and what will be the cost? Will this game and its outcome affect her close relationship with her brother?
The Kingdom of Back was captivating, adventurous and magical and I completely enjoyed this story. There are so many amazing aspects to this story. The story has a dreamlike quality to it and is written in a lyrical style. The plot was captivating, compelling and had a nice flow throughout the story. I enjoyed how the Kingdom of Back was interwoven with Nannerl’s real life and her harsh realities. I was drawn to Nannerl’s strength and her commitment to her brother despite her own frustrations and disappointments. I also appreciated the special bond between the two siblings. The characters were relatable, well developed and flawed. This story was an emotional journey as well. The last chapter was very special, touching and important, especially to Nannerl. “Speak for the ones who will come after you, looking to you for guidance.” The maps at the front and back of the book were beautifully detailed and a wonderful addition to this book. I especially appreciated the author’s notes at the end of the book and found them to be very helpful and interesting.
What I particularly enjoyed about The Kingdom of Back was how Marie Lu was able to take a well known historical fiction story and weave it into a beautiful fairy tale with so many imaginative and magical moments. As I was reading this book I felt like I was being drawn into a classical fairy tale from my childhood and the emotions, magic, music and enchanting adventure of this story were just outstanding. Although it is a YA novel, it is my honest opinion that this book will be enjoyed and treasured by readers of all ages. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a historical fiction story with great characters, an outstanding plot and a wonderful magical adventure.
I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book from PenguinTeen, the author and BookishFirst in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. Thank you.