The Kingdom of Back

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The Kingdom of Back
Author(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
March 03, 2020
ISBN
978-1524739010
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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. In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically-told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.

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The Kingdom of Back
(Updated: April 21, 2020)
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Nannerl Mozart is a gifted musical prodigy. She's trained by her strict father, who hopes her talent will take them to perform in European royal courts. She's also the older sister of Wolfgang Mozart. In this story Nannerl and Wolfgang travel to courts in Europe to perform. Nannerl is often overlooked due to her sex. While traveling to the courts, she shares with her brother the stories of a magical world called Back. Then one day a mysterious stranger appears and promises her that he can fulfill her secret wish-to never be forgotten. But at what cost?

What worked: Beautifully written tale that magically transports readers to the fantasy world of Back. Fans of Holly Black are sure to love this magical story that shows readers the Mozart siblings. Nannerl is also gifted, but often overlooked as she's female. It's the eighteenth-century Europe and she knows she can only perform until she reaches a marriageable age. She loves performing and hints of jealousy appear when her younger brother shows his own gift. I loved how Lu shows the courtly intrigues, behind scenes of performing to the wealthy, and the sibling rivalry. Nannerl worries that she will be forgotten and this fear grows when her brother's own talent eclipses hers.Though Wolfgang supports Nannerl by little acts like leaving out paper for her to compose out of sight of their father.

The world of Back is lush and filled with faeries, beauty, and danger. The mysterious Hyacinth visits both the siblings with promises of never being forgotten. He also sets Nannerl out on some tasks in order for him to fulfill his promise. As Wolfgang's talents start to overshadow hers, Hyacinth's tasks grow more difficult and dangerous. I loved this world. Hyacinth is beautiful and savage. His ability to swept his charm over not only Nannerl but Wolfgang hints of danger. Yet neither can turn away.

Captivating fantasy set in eighteenth-century where a magical world can lead to hidden desires, but at a cost.
Good Points
Beautifully written
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The Kingdom of Back
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Marie Lu’s The Kingdom of Back is an historical fantasy based on real-life talents, Wolfgang Amedeus Motzart and his sister, Maria Anna Motzart. The main character is Maria Anna, or Nannerl, as her family calls her. She is extremely talented but must hide it because she is a girl. Young women are expected to marry well and take care of the household, but Nannerl wants to be famous and remembered for her music. When her brother, whom they call Woferl, starts to become involved with composing his own music, Nannerl makes a wish that she will not be forgotten. A princeling fairy named Hyacinth comes to her and wants to help her make her wish come true, but she must help him gain his throne back. Woferl and Nannerl go to the magical land of Hyacinth’s and they name it the Kingdom of Back because everything is backwards. The tress grow upside down so that the roots are reaching toward the sky. In this land, Nannerl is asked to go up against dangers that Hyacinth cannot encounter.

I was not a fan of sci-fi and fantasy until I read this book. I had read an article about the author, Marie Lu, and wanted to read one of her works. I am so glad I started with this book. She made the made-up world of Hyacinth seem so real. It is easy to see why this book would appeal to young adult readers of today who look to escape their own reality.

The Kingdom of Back takes readers on a science-fiction adventure and explores how sibling love can overcome sibling rivalry. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fictional novels about historical figures mixed with fantasy.
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