There is something special about the way music is able to lull you into a dream-like state. It brings out so many emotions and memories with every measure and beat. The orchestra has the power to make magic with its music. Taking you away to a brand new world. In Marie Lu’s The Kingdom of Back, we follow the magic that music can create and the love of a talented sister towards her equally talented brother. The Mozart name is well-known but it isn’t Wolfgang who was the only musically inclined prodigy from this family.
So here’s the story:
No one should ever be forgotten, especially one so talented and gifted in the magic of music.
Maria Anna Mozart, or Nannerl, was blessed with the gift to play the clavier beautifully. She was trained from a young age under her fathers critical eye to be perfect with every stroke her fingers made on the keys. However, it seems that no matter how much she does she can’t compete with her younger talented brother Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Nannerl is forever being told to act like a lady by her tyrannical father and to remember that the music is only until she marries; whereas, her brother is to be the star of the performance and will forever be remembered as a prodigy. She bares no ill-will towards her brother and loves him dearly, but envies the life he is allowed to live.
She dreamt of the day when she would be allowed to compose her own pieces and permitted to play them for others just as her brother does. But she knows this could only be a wish found in her heart. That is until the magic of a wish and the magic of her music brought to life the enchanted Kingdom of Back and with it a chance to have her wish fulfilled.
All she wants is to be remembered and never forgotten. But at what cost?
I never knew that Wolfgang had a sister! This book was a really good YA historical fiction and I loved the way that Lu was able to seamlessly incorporate the magic of the Kingdom of Back into the Mozarts’ world. From reading the author’s notes in the back of the book, I didn’t realize that this kingdom was an actual thing that the Mozart children truly created in order to help pass the time while traveling between their performances. So I really appreciate the depth that Lu put into her story to stay historically accurate while still maintaining the fictional elements. I also really liked the musical elements Lu included into her writing. Because it is about a musical family it makes sense that a lot of the descriptions held sound related elements. It was beautifully written and made my musical side very very happy!
This book reminded me a lot of Pan’s Labyrinth. Maybe not to the same fearful degree that the movie is able to make it’s audience feel (I have not read the book. I’ve only see the movie), but definitely a similar vibe. You have this magic land that only one young or two children can see and interact with. Nannrel has to assist the kingdom’s guardian with tasks in order for her wish to be met. There are amazing and fantastical things occurring all around in this place, and the real world seems to pause while they are within. And then at the end something terrible must happen in order for the wish to come true. All of these thing line up with a similar story to the Labyrinth. Not that this is a bad thing. Just an observation on my end.
Overall, I liked this book but it didn’t blow me out of the water, per-say. The part I was the most fascinated by would have been the historical accuracy that this fictional book was able to capture. Also the history I learned not only about Wolfgang, but of his sister Maria Anna! I learned so much about her and the way the Mozart children grew up, which was really cool! I would suggests this to anyone who has a musical heart. If you are at all intrigued by the historical fiction genre or any want to learn more about the famous Mozart family. I was pulled towards it because I had no clue there was a second sibling just as talented in Mozart’s life.
“Desire is your lifeblood, and talent is the flower it feeds.” (54)