Book Review: “The Kingdom of Back” by Marie Lu

Nannerl is always the “other child.”  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, her little brother (often called Wolferl) is the prodigy.  He’s the one who writes sonatas in his sleep. He’s the one showing off and doing tricks to amuse his audience (while Nannerl is required to sit with her eyes downcast after a performance).  He’s the cute one, the talented one, the amazing boy with perfect musical tone.  He’s the one who gets them audiences with kings and queens, princesses and royal courts, all over Europe.

Who wouldn’t be jealous?

When Nannerl is first visited by the faery Hyacinth, she is flattered by his sweet demeanor and adorable looks.  She is fascinated by the Kingdom of Back, where he lives.  Everything is backwards there – the trees grow upside down, there are two moons in the sky, and time moves in strange ways.  So, when he asks her to make a bargain, she is inclined to agree.  She is terrified of being forgotten, and with good reason.  Women, no matter how young and talented, may not write music. Nannerl sees nothing but disappointment and hard work in her future.   Hyacinth promises she will never be forgotten in exchange for her help with a “few small tasks.”  

Anyone who has ever read a fantasy before, or made a bargain with a fairy, is cringing at this setup.  

This wonderful blend of traditional epic fantasy and historical fiction will have you riveted well past your bedtime and scanning the corners of your room for blue light.  So, have you heard of Maria Anna (Nannerl) Mozart, or has she actually been forgotten?

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