Book Review – The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Title: The Kingdom of Back

Author: Marie Lu

Publisher: G.P. Putnam & Sons

Publication date: March 3rd, 2020

313 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

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 eighteenth-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.

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.


“Wishes have a habit of surprising their makers.”

Marie Lu, The Kingdom of Back

The Kingdom of Back is my first Marie Lu read. I know she has some huge series, however this is a historical fantasy stand alone novel. It details an alternate history of the Mozart family from the POV of Nannerl, Wolfgang’s older sister. Nannerl meets a boy from a magical land, Hyacinth, that offers her the fame and acclaim she is looking for in exchange for her assistance in his home world. The story follows the siblings as they perform and compose throughout adolescence.

This book totally fell flat for me. The writing is beautiful, first off. No one is challenging Marie’s talent with writing and imagery. But, the plot wasn’t it for me. Historical isn’t normally my jam to begin with, so I’m not too surprised by this information. I found the book interesting and I have no regrets about reading it, but I lef the book feeling very blah about it. I felt for Nannerl’s conflicts with her father around her role and duty as a woman – but it also just served to piss me off. Even though historically accurate, I just don’t enjoy reading about the disparity between men and women when we’re still living in an unequal world.

This book just wasn’t for me – but fans of historical fantasy and magical realism will enjoy this book, especially if you also have an interest in music and composition, or the Mozart family.

Happy reading, folks!

1 thought on “Book Review – The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu”

  1. I also felt this book was flat–it lacked excitement and I found the fantasy part unbelievable. I am a musician and a fan of Mozart so the premise intrigued me.

    Liked by 1 person

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