Tag Archives: Magical realism

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

The Projected Girl by Lavie Tidhar


Title: The Projected Girl
Author: Lavie Tidhar
In: Naked City (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Magic, Magical realism, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 31st October 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: And someone told on her.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

What happens when a magicians assistant truly disappears? Where did she go? Can a young Jewish boy finally solve the mystery?


This was a bit of a detective story. Not overtly, but the journey to find out what happened to the girl and whether the magician was guilty or not. Why did the girl disappear? It was a series of small questions that you wanted to know the answer to, but didn’t wrap you up in its power like many of the other detective series I’ve read do.

This was a great tying together of the past and the present. I’m noticing that I’m really enjoying stories which do this in a seamless way, and The Projected Girl actually moves to the top of the list for this. There is a young boy who, in reading a magician’s diary finds out that they’re connected to his family. And it could somehow answer some of the questions he just didn’t know to ask.

The Projected Girl explores Jewish culture and faith, their ties to family. It’s not a faith that I read much about, unless it has to do with the holocaust, so it was a lot of fun to do so. Especially late at night when I was a little bit overwhelmed by all the sadness in the world.

 <- Weston Walks ReviewThe Way Station Review ->
Image source: Patricia Briggs

Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Image result for book cover spellbook of the lost and found

Title: Spellbook of the Lost and Found
Author: Moira Fowley-Doyle
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Freaky, LGBTQI, Magical realism
Dates read: 16th – 21st April 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Corgi
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Big bones, big meat, I’m a meal of a girl.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

One stormy summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and jewellery, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something bigger, something she won’t talk about.

Then Olive meets three wild, mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel and Rowan. Like Rose, they’re mourning losses – and holding tight to secrets.

When they discover the ancient spellbook, full of hand-inked charms to conjure back lost things, they realize it might be their chance to set everything right. Unless it’s leading them towards secrets that were never meant to be found…


I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this novel. It is my first by Moira Fowley-Doyle, it is my first magical realism story and although the blurb sounded intriguing, it’s probably not one I would have picked up based on the cover. It was suggested as part of the Around the Year in 52 Books reading challenge. And boy am I glad. I absolutely loved this book.

The three different storylines set throughout this story seem to stretch an age, but, in reality they only take about a week. The different perspectives (some on the same moments, some on very random experiences) move you along at a kind of slow pace time wise. But in activities… it’s a whirlwind of intrigue, adventure and social context.

Fowley-Doyle isn’t afraid to talk about marginalised teenagers. Of the five main characters, two are severely abused, one is from a not so healthy background (but not abusive), one has what would be considered a disability, and they are all kind of messed up, but in different ways. This doesn’t include the fact that the sexual orientations in this story range from hetero to homosexual and through the gambit of bisexual. There’s honestly a character that everyone can recognise themselves in. And that’s not even beginning to touch on the discussions around women’s rights!

I had to create a “freaky” shelf in my collection for this book. Not because this was scary (that’s the horror shelf), but because after turning the last page, I lay in bed feeling stunned and incredibly uncomfortable. Most tales that deal with magic blur the lines, but still have that element of fantasy in it. This tale doesn’t do that. Even in the closing, there are moments when they seem to explain away all of the weird happenings, but just not quite… the darkness that seeps through the story kind of lingers. And it just feels… well, beautifully, tragically… freaky.

 <- All the Bad Apples ReviewThe Accident Season Review ->
Image source: Amazon