The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Title: The Kingdom of Back
Author: Marie Lu
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Historical fiction, Magical realism, Music
Dates read: 22nd August 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Putnam
Year: 2020
5th sentence, 74th page: “Like this.”


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 a sister.


It’s not often that I finish a book and experience a book hangover. There’s many that will leave thoughts and feelings lingering long after I finish them? But actual difficulty in picking up the next book? Not a common occurrence for me. It didn’t QUITE happen this time either. But its the closest I’ve come in a very long time.

Recently I’ve heard of Nannerl Mozart due to the Enola Holmes movie and the statues going up in response to this. However, beyond her existence and levels of talent similar to her brother, I knew pretty much nothing. Including the fact that she was a celebrated progidy just like her brother. The mix of reality and fantasy in the book helped to make me feel a lot more educated about such an amazing woman.

Honestly, my heart hurt throughout this story. Knowing how quickly woman are and were swept under the rug is one thing. But the way that Lu emphasises this in Nannerl’s voice… it left me feeling physically uncomfortable. Which I think was incredibly important to the tone and message of this story. Being ignored because of your gender is not a comfortable thing and Lu was able to perfectly emphasise this.

I’ve read a few historical fictions lately. But this is the first that intertwines this so strongly with fantasy. There are elements of the fae and fairy tales. And just a hint of familiarity to the fantasy story line that I just can’t place. But, alongside this you have the reality of being a woman in the time of Marie Antoinette, Nannerl and Wolfgang. With all of the challenges that that entails.

<- More Marie LuMore magical realism ->

Image source: Goodreads

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