Am I the last one on the planet to know the story of The Nutcracker? Well, if you’re the one after me, just know you can love The Enchanted Sonata without being a ballet aficionado.
Clara Stahlbaum has her future perfectly planned: to marry the handsome pianist, Johann Kahler (ah!) and settle down to a life full of music. But all that changes on Christmas Eve, when Clara receives a mysterious and magical nutcracker.
Whisked away to his world—an enchanted empire of beautiful palaces, fickle fairies, enormous rats, and a prince—Clara must face a magician who uses music as spells…and the future she thought she wanted.
(Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
I adore the concept that music has not only power, but also magic. And the idea that playing piano pieces can create silences, transport us to magical places, and bring back childhood memories. Is there no more true power than listening to a piece of music?
This is the basis of Wallwork’s beautiful and enchanting novel, The Enchanted Sonata. Matching the gorgeous cover, The Enchanted Sonata is full of gorgeous writing. You can not only practically hear the music, but feel the thrumming under your skin. That out of body moment we feel when we are transported by a piece of music. When it causes us to fall in love, when it evokes memories, and when we can’t get it out of our head.
Themes & Writing
Not only is The Enchanted Sonata full of musical references and care, but I loved the themes within. A big part of the book that is developed later on in the story, is the idea that anger and pain can consume us. And when it does, we become something we can’t recognize. Grief is one of these forces. When we dwell on it, when we resist moving on, we become transformed. Almost sucked into a black hole that is difficult to climb out of. For some of us this twists us into something monstrous, but for others, it manifests in different obsessions.
Do we have the power to turn away from that pull, that longing? Can we see the light, search for the happiness? Or will we become something else entirely?
(Another theme that is developed is the question of what makes a good ruler. And how do we find our power, our responsibility, our capability to become a good leader?)
But The Enchanted Sonata‘s writing is also bewitching. It’s almost told as a frame narrative, as Clara begins reading about the story of the Nutcracker. She can’t get the story out of her head and then she becomes a part of the story. Just like the readers, we feel sucked into the story. How will Clara triumph? Can she?
(I also liked that we are able to witness the ‘villain’s’ backstory within the book. We see what set him on this path, all the times he could have turned away. And what motivates him. It was like another chapter in the story book).
Besides these amazing themes and writing, The Enchanted Sonata has all these side characters and stories. They combine to form a beyond charming book. Clara is intelligent, kind, and caring. You can’t help but love her. There are hilarious side characters such as these nuns who engage in somewhat illegal activity, and endearing side stories about confectioners. The Enchanted Sonata has something for everyone – music, romance, and battles. Sometimes we need stories about unlikely heroines, about girls who love playing piano, and when love stares us in the face.