The Kingdom of Back

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Kingdom of Back Book Poster Image
Mozart's sister steps up in witty historical fantasy.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Presents new perspective on life of Mozart and his sister Maria, also known as Nannerl. Lots of details of European musicianship. Offers opportunity to discuss ways in which women's art is suppressed.

Positive Messages

Young women can grow up to be remembered forever. Brothers and sisters can work together to achieve greatness. Jealousy is counterproductive.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Maria "Nannerl" Mozart is a talented musician in her own right, but she's overshadowed by her genius brother, Wolfgang. Nevertheless, she treats him lovingly, works for benefit of her whole family. Mozart is portrayed as a loving sibling with a competitive streak.


Wolfgang wastes away, thanks to a magical spell cast by Hyacinth. At Hyacinth's urging, Nannerl kills the beast who guards the moat of the castle.


A young man flirts with Nannerl.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Kingdom of Back is a historical fantasy novel by Marie Lu, author of Legend. The book spotlights the supremely talented sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and how she ensures that her name will not be forgotten. There's no sex, violence, or strong language. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBookGems April 25, 2020

Sweet Historical-Fantasy

Review from -
Mozart is a household name, but really it is only Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who is associated with the name. Few think of his sister, M... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bygrace.reads January 25, 2021

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Genre: fantasy, historical, science fiction
Page count: 313
Rating: 4.5 stars (rounded up)
Age recommendation: 10+
Standalone/series: standalone
Trigger Warning... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bynerdybookworm11 June 18, 2020

Beautifully written historical fiction/fantasy starring Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's musical prodigy sister

I absolutely adore this book. It's the first book I've read by Marie Lu, and now I'm very excited to read more of her books. It's about Wolf... Continue reading

What's the story?

As THE KINGDOM OF BACK opens, Nannerl Mozart is a gifted teen musician whose virtuosity impresses the nobles of Europe. Unfortunately, she is overshadowed by the genius of her younger brother, Woferl, even though she's in some ways the better composer. Dismissed because of her age and gender, Nannerl can't help but feel resentful, and when she meets a mysterious stranger called Hyacinth, she confides that her greatest wish is to be remembered forever. That confession has unexpected ramifications, and soon she and Woferl are brought to an enchanted kingdom to do Hyacinth's bidding. Soon, Nannerl will have to weigh her ambitions against Woferl's health and decide how to make her mark in music.

Is it any good?

Some of the best stories can be found in history's footnotes, and this intricate historical fantasy uses the early childhood of Mozart as a springboard for an enchanting tale of sibling rivalry. In The Kingdom of Back, the relationship between Woferl and Nannerl is described with insight and sensitivity. Author Marie Lu expertly mixes fantasy and fact as she follows the struggles of Nannerl in her efforts to build a legacy that will last forever. Heartbreaking, rapturous, and witty, The Kingdom of Back is a major change of pace for Lu, completely successful and worthy of a wide readership.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Kingdom of Back presents an alternate history of European music. How do authors use fantasy to offer a different perspective on history?

  • Why have women been excluded from participating in business and the arts? How have they struggled against such oppression? Are women still excluded in some areas today?

  • How do artists find sponsorship for their art? Is it important for individuals, charities, and governments to support them?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love historical novels and fantasy

Themes & Topics

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