(received an ARC copy of The Enchanted Sonata from NetGalley – in exchange, this is my honest review)
4 out 5 stars
May include mild spoilers.
The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork mixes the original story with her own ideas of magic to give us this magical retelling of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. It utilised the magic of music, like in Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Russian Ballet, The Nutcracker, and even gave us its own twist by interweaving a bit of the Pied Piper into the tale, giving us a musically magical tale of princes, rats, fairies, and love.
My first thought when receiving this ARC was: oh my god, I used to LOVE the Nutcracker! I was Barbie-movie trash growing up, so I knew the set up easily enough. What did this book deliver, however? Magic, mystery, music, and mayhem. The Enchanted Sonata, rather than just giving us a slightly twisted reworking of the original, provoked a sense of enthralling magical exhilaration that gave the story just enough spark to keep me reading. I fell in love with the awkward yet endearing characterisation of the Nutcracker and his human counterpart, drowned myself in the world building (the chocolates!), and overall, I loved the story enough to add it to my ‘will reread this later’ list.
The character of Clara, who has been working to perform in her school’s Christmas Concert, is given a Nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve, and with that Nutcracker, she is given a story. When she reads the story, she is transported to that world, and when she finishes, rather than being left in her home, she’s woven back into that world through the use of ‘fickle fairy magic’, and straight into the current political and magical climate where the story-book left off. She and her now 8-foot Nutcracker must race against the clock and out of the hands of giant rants to stop the bad guy before he can turn the Nutcracker into a real toy.
This book enthralled me. I couldn’t put it down. I’m not saying that this is the most amazing book I’ve read, but it was enough to get me excited, to make me keep reading, to leave me teary and grinning at the end. The story wrapped up beautifully, with that deep sense of magic and whimsical story telling.
From when I first picked up the ARC, to when I finished, I could not help but be fascinated in the world Wallwork created. The whimsical touches, the over-the-top narration, and the overall concept worked perfectly with an already imaginative and beloved storyline. I am excited to read more from this author in the future!