Nannerl Mozart is an exceptional musician. A miracle. Destined for greatness. She can lose herself in music, find freedom in the pages which her father teaches her to play. But one day, her little brother Wolfgang copies her movements when she plays the clavier. And everything changes.
Nannerl longs to be great. Loved and remembered always. But as she grows into a young woman and the already limited opportunities available for a young child fade away, she truly begins to feel the suffocating restrictions of being a woman in Europe in the 1700s. Desperate not to fade out of memory and lose any hope of a future beyond marriage, she strikes a bargain with a wild, mysterious boy from another world. At first, her dreams seem to indeed be coming true. But his help is not simply a gift, and she begins to wonder: what exactly will he require in return?
As Nannerl and Wolfgang grow older, they travel Europe with their parents, performing for royalty and earning praise from some of the greatest rulers of the time. And they are pulled ever deeper into the world of the Kingdom of Back, where secrets rule like queens and enchantment goes far below the surface.
Marie Lu's luminous, evocative writing is stunning, and she blends fairy tale elements, historical settings and characters, and original fantasy ideas seamlessly. I was especially struck by the unique, deft transitions and connection between our world and that of the Kingdom of Back, and the contrast between our world and the ethereal Kingdom. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Kingdom of Back the first time, but it was only after I read the Author's Note that I fully understood the brilliance of it. Apparently, Nannerl was a real person, a musical prodigy who toured Europe with Wolfgang when they were children. And on the lengthy carriage rides between performances, the siblings would make up stories about an enchanted land they named the Kingdom of Back....