This book gave me so much to work with, and honestly, about a few weeks later, I still don’t know how to feel about it.
Even though this book was on my most anticipated releases of the year and a five-star prediction, I was shocked by this book. I honestly did not know much about The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu before I read it. I just knew it was a new Marie Lu novel with a beautiful cover. Yeah…I fell for that gorgeous cover. But! When I opened the cover and read the summary, I was over the moon to dive into the story.
The Kingdom of Back follows Nannerl Mozart, the older sister to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Nannerl was the first child musical prodigy of the family but was never at the level to be an acclaimed composer. When Wolfgang started to show a talent for music and has the knowledge of music beyond his years, Nannerl started to be lost in his path despite also being a talented pianist and played alongside him. With her little brother in the picture, Nannerl began to worry about being remembered. It was all she wanted was to be remembered too. So when the opportunity to be remembered shows itself to Nannerl in the form of a mysterious boy from a fantastical world followed by mysterious music, will Nannerl and Woferl’s relationship suffer?
I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to all. I really enjoyed this book and it might be my favorite book of the year so far. I found this story to be an easy and addicting read/listen. The story was very entertaining and it was fun to see the world from a girl in a time where women were discouraged to follow their dreams and passions. I also enjoyed Nannerl and Woferl growing up with this fantastical world they would escape to filled with music and deception. The audiobook is narrated by the same woman who did The Beautiful by Renee Adhieh and she did an incredible job. I listened to this book over two days.
Nannerl’s voice is so convincing. I loved the voice that came through the writing style. You could feel her internal struggle between caring for her brother and doing something for herself. I’m not sure how to describe it, but her voice fits her character and writing. It was quite complimentary.
Woferl was annoying. I know the book started when he was 5 and didn’t know any better, but I was annoyed with him when Nannerl was annoyed with him. There was always something he did to put down Nannerl’s goals, progress, or achievements. Yes, he grew to be a brilliant musician and did something very considerate for Nannerl towards the end, but dude, he fit the annoying little kid/brother role well. Just a warning, he does get sick in this book, primarily due to the smallpox epidemic that happens within the book and of the time.
Nannerl and Woferl had a nice relationship. It was sibling-like, but Nannerl was still pretty motherly over him because their father always forced her to take care of Woferl. Their father was annoying too. He was a little conceited and always wanted more for his family and his life as a musician with two child prodigies, but he a lot of the time, it seemed like he only cared about the money from their performances. Their mother was lovely though. She would be nice to have a cup of tea with. Because of the pressure from dad, Woferl was Nannerl’s only job and responsibility and if he does something, like runoff somewhere, then it would be Nannerl’s fault for not keeping an eye on him or holding him back. That was very annoying and I felt bad for her the whole time.
Now the villain. Honestly, I am still upset there wasn’t a romance between the two. There could have been one, they were close, but there was not and he was just using Nannerl with her dream of being remembered. Hyacinth was a peculiar villain to me. If you think of a fae villain, you can probably imagine him. He starts off friendly of course, so Nannerl and Woferl would help him get back to his castle. Then as the book progresses, something seems off about him and his true nature and intent are revealed. That was a good scene, by the way. I wish we got his story. We do get his story, but we don’t get it. It will make sense if you have read the book and his deception. I loved the way he was taken down. I do wish Nannerl did something unexpected though. So all in all, if you liked Cardan from The Cruel Prince, you are likely going to like Hyacinth.
I adored the world of the Kingdom of Back as Nannerl and Woferl named it. The way it seemed to develop more as the duo created more of the story of the world and the characters like Hyacinth, the princess, and the witch at the bottom of the sea. The way it appeared in my mind, it seems beautiful.
Obviously, music is a huge part of this novel. It’s everywhere! The way Nannerl thinks relates back to music and playing the piano. The timeline of the real world as it follows along the Mozart tour across Austria and Europe. Even in the Kingdom of Back, certain characters have special music for them. Nannerl’s set would typically be before Woferl’s set. Honestly, I could be remembering that wrong.
My favorite part of this whole book, was when Nannerl played the piano and we got to see what she thought as she performed for I think the court of Austria and Hyacinth. The way she brought music to life made me think of one of my all-time favorite animes, and when I listened to that scene, I cried. The anime Piano No Mori, or Forest of Piano, or The Perfect World of Kai, follows a young boy named Kai, who falls in love with the piano and has a natural-born talent for the piano. When he plays, he brings the audience to the forest outside of his window where he found a piano that only plays with his touch. So when listening to Nannerl while she plays and getting the same feelings when I watch that anime, I was an emotional wreck and I was only on page 90. It’s a Netflix original. It’s filled with classical music.
All in all, this book was beautiful. Read the author’s note!! It is very special and endearing and I felt like it really completed the story. I enjoyed the ending and writing of this book so much. A solid 5 stars from me for The Kingdom of Back.
On another note, I always called this The Kingdom of Black instead of The Kingdom of Back, so that’s a funny little mistake on my part. Sorry if this seemed a little bit of a mess, it’s a little late during the night. But yeah, Marie Lu DID THAT!!
see you soon,
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