edelweiss and twin moons | the kingdom of back by marie lu

by - 8:46 PM

From #1 New York Times bestselling 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, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically-told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister. 

isbn: 978-1524739010 | pages: 313
publication date: March 3, 2020 | source: own/BOTM

the other Mozart
Nannerl Mozart is every bit the music prodigy that her younger brother, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, is - the only catch is that she has to work twice as hard and lives in the ever-present fear of being forgotten. I had never even heard of Nannerl before my Music History class in college and can definitely appreciate Marie Lu giving voice to a figure in history that unfortunately is often forgotten. Nannerl's constant struggle to remain worthy in the eyes of her father and society, to be more than just a pretty face at the piano, speaks volumes to the restrictions placed upon women and music both in the past and still today. It made her story all the more powerful once you put into consideration that she's a child prodigy - meaning she battled the constant judgment and fear since she was eight years old (seriously hoity-toity music needs to stop gender stereotyping so fast).

classical music appreciation
As a music major, I appreciated seeing the (slightly dry) history that I had to learn portrayed in a different way. My personal favorite has to be the Queen of the Night reference and if you don't know what I'm talking about, I highly recommend you YouTube "queen of the night marmot" - I promise it'll be worth your time. In addition to these fun references, the story itself breathed its own personality into 1700s Europe. The grandmeisters I had to read about in my textbooks came to life becoming more than some names and dates I had to remember but, ironically, people who played an important role in the lives of the Mozarts.

absolute preciousness 
It's easy to dismiss Wolfgang and join Team Nannerl when looking at the premise of the story, but honestly, they are such a power duo. Wolfgang's love and admiration for his sister (historically proven too!) once again emphasized the fact that he was just a little boy whose talent was greatly exploited by his father. Nannerl's love for her brother also reflects pretty much every older sibling - love mixed with a little bit of frustration. The relationship dynamic between the two of them are so precious, especially their support of each other's talents.

a second kingdom
Of course, we need to talk about the magical second kingdom that Marie Lu created for this story. The Kingdom of Back (also historically true as well) starts off as a bedtime fairytale and quickly develops into a parallel universe. Nannerl strikes a bargain with Hyacinth and gets pulled into the Kingdom where she has to complete tasks for him in order to be granted immortality in the hearts of men. In some aspects, I wanted more adventures in Back because it was described so magically, but I appreciated the added bit of mystery it added to the otherwise historically rooted story.

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