ARC Review: The Kingdom of Back

Title: The Kingdom of Back

Author: Marie Lu

Publication date: March 3rd, 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Source: ARC (BookishFirst)

Rating: ★★★★

Book Links:


One Sentence Synopsis

When Nannerl Mozart makes a wish to not be forgotten, her wish is heard by a being from a faerie land who promises to fulfill her wish as long as she helps him in return.

Favorite Quote

This quote is from an uncorrected copy and may change in the final version

“Speak for those less fortunate than yourself, who will need your help. Speak for the ones who will come after you, looking to you for guidance.”

Thank you to BookishFirst and the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Before I jump into this review, I’m going to tell you a little fact about myself. I’m a big fan of classical music. I grew up listening to it, it has always been my go-to for when I’m studying or need to focus, and I’ve always loved singing classical pieces in choirs. And one of my favorite composers is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I’ve always been drawn to his music, I was obsessed with the movie Amadeus, and his requiem which includes Lacrimosa is just… *chef’s kiss*

So when I heard that this book was about Mozart’s equally talented but mostly forgotten sister, Marianne, I was instantly intrigued. When I looked into the book further and learned it included a faery kingdom and a deal with a faery princeling, I knew I had to read it. I discovered that The Kingdom of Back was up for raffle on BookishFirst, a website were you can read excerpts from soon-to-be released books and enter the raffle to win them, and checked out the excerpt since I was already interested.

The excerpt was mesmerizing! In just a few, short pages, I was instantly hooked. So imagine my very pleasant surprise when I entered the raffle and WON! I was so excited to have the full book in my hands, to find out if it lived up to the standard set by the excerpt.

I’m happy to report that it surpassed it! This book was a gorgeous feast for my heart and soul. It was magical and lyrical. The descriptions were so well-crafted that it was as though a movie were playing in my mind. I could see the Kingdom of Back laid out before me, with the upside-down trees and the white, sandy beach. The prose is so rich and evocative that I could hear the music that Nannerl (Marianne’s childhood nickname) played as she sat at her clavier. I found myself immersed in the story and I luxuriated there for hours.

Beyond the writing, the characters were fascinating to watch. Nannerl is so complex. She knows she as talented as her brother, but she is also a young woman growing up in eighteenth century Europe. She yearns to leave her mark on the world, but the world (and her father) wants her to be a well-behaved young lady who conforms to society’s standards. She’s jealous that Wolfgang (or Woferl) has no impediments to his musical genius, but she also adores her brother. It’s interesting to watch her swing between these two extreme emotions as the book progresses. Actually, I think my favorite part of this book was how well it depicted the sibling relationship/rivalry. It rang so true and tugged at my heart in a very real way.

I also loved the imaginary world that Nannerl and Woferl created together. It was so lush, yet dangerous. Beautiful and mysterious with a power all it’s own. To think (according to the author’s note) that this was something that the real Mozarts came up with is just mind-boggling! Well, they at least came up with the name, if not the same details. I love when an author throws real life details like that into a story.

Final thoughts: This was a lyrical, mesmerizing story that speaks to the struggle of women to be seen in a world that loves to turn a blind eye. It’s a little creepy and a lot magical. If you like a richly told story involving music, fae, and wishes, you’ll love The Kingdom of Back.


2 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Kingdom of Back

  1. […] Oh, what a beautiful little book! I knew the mixture of Mozart and fairies was going to be something I enjoyed and I was right! Though this one didn’t get the full five stars, I would have to say it came pretty dang close. Reading this book was like ensconcing myself in a German folktale and I could have wallowed there forever. You can read my review here! […]


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