If you’ve been reading this for more than a moment, you know I don’t really gravitate towards fantasy. I have commitment issues, fantasy books are long and have many many sequels, and I like the real world, but I do read fantasy occasionally. It usually has to have some other aspect that draws me in though, which is how I ended up with The Kingdom of Back for my last ever BOTM YA pick in March.
So, I’ll admit I haven’t read the Young Elites trilogy, of Legend, or the major Marie Lu stuff, but I did read the Warcross duology! I loved the first one, but the second one…felt like an entirely different series. Weird. Anyway, I was willing to give Kingdom of Back a try, and I’m glad I did! I also learned she wrote it WAY before she wrote the other books, so that’s interesting.
The Kingdom of Backis more historical than fantasy, but it’s got some fantastical elements. which I loved. It’s a “story you know but one you’ve never heard before” about Mozart and his sister lost to time, Nannerl. Nannerl, like Lu talks about in her author’s notes, is someone we may have heard about in passing but is definitely an “unknown” compared to Mozart himself. I mean, it’s enough that when we say Mozart we mean Wolfgang Amadeus, though in this book we meet all the Mozarts–the controlling, social climbing father, the kind, quiet mother, and the children, both musical prodigies in their own right. As the family travels around Europe to perform, earn money for their family, and meet important people, Nannerl faces a choice: Will she complete the challenges presented to her in the Kingdom of Back, the dream-like place she found as a child, in order to ensure immortality on earth?
I don’t want to say too much more and spoil things, but this is primarily historical fiction, though Nannerl, and Woefrl, occasionally venture INTO the Kingdom of Back, which offers its own fantasy element but also has real world ties, obviously. I loved the historical element. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction these days, but I definitely haven’t read a lot set in Austria or in Europe pre-American revolution, so this was interesting. Nannerl was a fascinating character who had a lot of nuance to her, and this would be a great book to read during Women’s History Month too! It’s got enough fact to make it interesting, but also has that element of a “hidden figure” that many people don’t learn about.
As someone who doesn’t love fantasy, I really enjoyed this stand-alone historical fiction with a fantasy twist and hope you will too!