ARC Review | The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

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The Kingdom of Back

Author: Marie Lu // Published: March 3, 2020


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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.




Thank you Penguin International for the gifted copy of The Kingdom of Back!


‘Sometimes, a day comes along that seems possessed by a certain shade of magic. You know those moments.’

The Kingdom of Back is the first book by Marie Lu that I’ve read. Historical fiction isn’t a genre I usually read. My first one was The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi and it’s one of my favorite books of all time! So I went into this one with an open mind and I was pretty excited to try it out. The best way to describe this book is historical fiction with a hint of wild magic.

Marie Lu has wonderful writing. Her writing was so lyrical and I loved every moment of it! I also adored the story that she brought to the page. There are plenty of stories about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and hardly any about his sister, Maria Anna Mozart. She contributed in different ways to his music and he looked up to her, but hardly anyone mentions her. Diving into a story about her was wonderful. The book was mostly centered on the siblings and their strong relationship. I’ve hardly read any books that focus on sibling relationships and I really loved this one!

Nannerl was a tough character in her own way. She definitely grew up in a female oppressive society. I felt like this was highly realistic. It did annoy me all the comments about a woman’s place and what’s expected from her, especially from her own father. She definitely made sacrifices but I feel like towards the end of the story she did defy those ideas in her own way. Wolfgang although he’s a child through most of the book he definitely had emotional intelligence mostly towards his sister. I loved how he always questioned the reasons why his sister couldn’t do things. It showed how society shapes us to think the way that we do. He wasn’t really aware of the privileges that he had. I did enjoy seeing how supportive he was of his sister. Even though Nannerl felt how unfair things were towards her she still remained by her little brothers side.

Of course there was also the magic aspect. The siblings share The Kingdom of Back. A story they make up that slowly  becomes a reality and is a part of their life for years to come. I loved alternating between both worlds and how much magic was in this. The book also gave me intense Peter Pan vibes! There was also all the magic that comes with music and I feel like Marie Lu embodied that need to play especially well. The story was a bit on the slow side. I had wished it was just a tiny bit faster. I enjoyed the second half of the book most because I felt like that was when things started happening.

This story was unique in every way and a retelling unlike anything I’ve read before! I’m definitely looking forward to reading Marie Lu’s other books!

Reading Blog

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Click on the image to be redirected to my reading blog for The Kingdom of Back!


About the Author


I write young adult novels, and have a special love for dystopian books. Ironically, I was born in 1984. Before becoming a full-time writer, I was an Art Director at a video game company. Now I shuffle around at home and talk to myself a lot. 🙂

I graduated from the University of Southern California in ’06 and currently live in LA, where I spend my time stuck on the freeways.



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Have you read The Kingdom of Back?

4 thoughts on “ARC Review | The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

  1. Great review! I’m also not very much into historical fiction, but also really loved The gilded wolves!
    I might check this one out!



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