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From number one New York Times best-selling author Marie Lu comes a historical YA fantasy about a musical prodigy and the dangerous lengths she'll go to make history remember her - perfect for fans of Susanna Clarke and The Hazel Wood.
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, number one New York Times best-selling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.
"A beautifully evocative cover and a feminist angle on Mozart’s older sister, Nannerl (a talented pianist and composer in her own right), will have readers grabbing for Lu’s latest title." (Booklist)
"A beautifully composed historical fantasy that will enthrall readers, especially those with music in their hearts." (School Library Journal)
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Annoying narrator, story not what I thought
I thought this was a historical fiction. It’s not. It’s a fantasy and I couldn’t get past the first 3-4 chapters. The narrator has this non-stop intense, tremulous voice and when she tries to change her voice to make other characters than the main one, it’s a total disaster. I might have listened to the story even if it was not what I expected but put the narrator on top of this... no. Had to return it.
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Pure. Powerful. Peerless.
If I didn’t know who Mozart was, I’d never have realized this was a historical fantasy. Marie Lu’s story flowed like arpeggios. Her words reverberated with music. Even the scenes were accompanied by minuets I meye and tempos that echoed its emotions. It was like reading to a music score composed solely for this story. And Lauren Ezzo performed the symphony on perfect pitch.
⚖️ Plot: I was personally invested in this plot, knowing how demanding a life devoted to the skill of your mere fingers can be. Lu portrayed it perfectly, suspending it with sibling love rivaled by personal fulfillment. It was pure magic.
🗺 World: Having read how diligently Lu had researched the Mozarts and augmented it with the magical world that brother and sister shared, I expected nothing less than I received. My only disappointment was that it was so short. It would have been enriched with more details of the period, culture and fashion.
💑 Characters: Nannerl was the tragic prodigy personified. The circumstances dictated by her world and time were utterly heartbreaking. For me, it was also an insightful glimpse into the mental pressures and emotional strain that accompanies the possession of such a wealth of talent, as wel as the parental choices that result. While Wolfgang shone brighter in life, his sister completely overshadowed him in this.
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I was unaware that Mozart had an older sister, Nannerl, who was also a gifted in the performance of music. Without this novel, Nannerl would have stayed unknown to me, and that would have been a sad fate to send her.
I liked the invention of the Kingdom of Back. I recall spinning tales like these with my best friend as a kid, and our imagination had grown so wild, that sometimes our tales felt real. What’s more amazing is that the Kingdom of Back was something Mozart and Nannerl created together, and that’s a connection that I never thought I’d share with composers separated from me by centuries. Marie Lu created a story that humanized these characters, these real life figures, to where I wanted to reach into the book and give them the hugs they deserved. I have certainly felt the sting of jealousy Nannerl faced throughout the novel. I know the feeling of uselessness whenever you put your heart and soul into a craft (mine was violin) only to be passed over because of trivial reasons. For Nannerl, it was because she was female. For me, well, it’s because I didn’t look the part. So, yeah. I rooted hardcore for Nannerl.
I love finding novels that explore the realm of music. There’s just a special place you can go whenever playing an instrument. You just close your eyes and get lost in the notes that your movements create. I found Marie Lu’s ability to capture that state of mind perfectly well done. I never would have thought that I would like a historical fiction story as much as this one, and I am very happy that this book had the opportunity to be published.
Oh, and if you get a chance to listen to this on audiobook, I’d say go for it. Lauren Ezzo’s performance matches the yearning and wonder Nannerl expresses. A solid narration.
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