Review – The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu
  • Writing - 9/10
  • Development - 9/10
  • Overall - 9/10
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The Kingdom of Back tells the fantasy-infused story of Maria Anna Mozart—the elder sister of the famous composer. It is an enchanting tale that throws in a strong sense of whimsy.


The Breathtaking Tale Found Within The Kingdom of Back

The Kingdom of Back is the latest novel to spring from Marie Lu. And as such is probably a fantasy novel on many fans’ radar. This is a novel that beautifully blends fantasy elements with musical themes.

Marie Lu - The Kingdom of BackThis novel takes a delightful twist on historical figures, providing an illuminating and enchanting perspective. Maria Anna Mozart, aka Nannerl, is a real woman and was a brilliant musician. If not for the time period, and her brother’s talents, it’s likely that it is her name we would all be thinking of.

The Kingdom of Back dives into her story, providing a magical world in which she battled and thrived it. It is a powerful counter to the ordinary world and provided a muse of sorts for her musical endeavors.

This is arguably one of the most powerful novels I’ve read this year. Nannerl’s story felt so real and raw, all while having such stunning and captivating elements strewn about. Once again, Marie Lu has provided us with something remarkable.


The Kingdom of Back is a masterpiece, plain and simple. Marie Lu has written something truly beautiful here, providing fantasy and insight to a person we all should know more about. While we read this tale, Lu’s opinion and theories come to life, making Nannerl feel all the more real along the way.

From start to finish, this was an enchanting story. The raw edges of the real world merged beautifully with the fantasy elements—with the world that Nannerl and her younger brother discovered together.

The prevalent themes truly carried this tale, but the writing did as well. I don’t think that this story would have had nearly the same impact had it been written in any other way. There was something so organic about the way Nannerl’s story was written here. It made it feel real. More than that, it felt respectful, even with the inclusion of a fantastical plot.


The Kingdom of Back was a very carefully paced novel. There was always this sense of what was to come, even during the more calming moments in the tale. Nannerl always had something going on in her life—something to dread or think about—that forced the plot onward.

Likewise, her character grew significantly over the course of this novel. Not just in age, though there is that, but in mind and talent, a fact that became more apparent with each passing chapter—as did all of the conflicts that came with those changes.

It was both delightful and heartbreaking to watch her grow up. Lu perfectly portrayed everything that Nannerl would have come up against in that time period, and it really drove the plot home. It gave the fantasy elements of the story solid grounding to leap away from. There was something so beautiful and real and raw about it.

It also left a sense that there was more to come. Even knowing how the story would end (being that it is based on a real character, albeit with creative license), it was impossible to escape this sense of what was to come. This curiosity, which grew as the story unfolded.


The Kingdom of Back was every bit the enthralling novel I had hoped for, and then some. It was beautifully written, and in some ways, deeply haunting. Nannerl had never felt so alive and real to me, which may be ironic, given the spin that Lu provided here.

Yet there’s no doubt in my mind that this is a novel that will stick with me for quite some time. Nannerl’s story truly touched me. It’s not a feeling I will be able to shake anytime soon. Nor do I want to do so.

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About the author

Cat Wyatt

Cat Wyatt is an avid comic book reader, as well as a reader of novels. Her favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy, though she's usually willing to try other genres as well. Cat collects Funko Pop figures, Harry Potter books (different editions), and has more bookshelves than she's willing to admit.

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