Friday, 15 February 2019

Review: 'The Enchanted Sonata' by Heather Dixon Wallwork

I started learning how to play the piano when I was 6 years old. Sure, initially it was more of a chore than anything else but quickly it became something of an outlet. I loved creating something beautiful that way, so when I saw The Enchanted Sonata I was immediately drawn to it. Music, fairies and an enchanted empire? Sign me up! Thanks to Amazon and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Pub. Date: 23/10/2018
Publisher: Amazon, The Wallworkshop
The Enchanted Sonata, a retelling of The Nutcracker Ballet with a dash of The Pied Piper, will captivate readers of all ages. Clara Stahlbaum has her future perfectly planned: marry the handsome pianist, Johann Kahler (ah!), and settle down to a life full of music.  But all that changes 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 magic...and the future she thought she wanted.
The Enchanted Sonata brings together a variety of different themes, stories and influences. Two main stories form the inspiration for Wallwork's novel and those are The Nutcracker and The Pied Piper. However, these two originate in their own way from the German tale The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. These stories provide inspiration for most of the plot and much of the characterization. This makes something of an adaptation out of The Enchanted Sonata, but since many people won't be familiar with the original tale, there is still much in the novel that will surprise the reader. (I also saw some notes of The Phantom of the Opera in parts of the novel, and especially in some of its characterization.) At the very heart of The Enchanted Sonata is music. It moves the plot forward, it wraps itself around the characters, but it is also in the very way Wallwork writes. The way she describes music is the very best thing about this book. I think that anyone with some experience in music will fall in love with The Enchanted Sonata for that alone, the clear reverence and adoration with which the book treats music.

As I said above, I adored the way Wallwork writes about music in The Enchanted Sonata. It is where she excels, alongside her descriptions of the landscape. All of the novel seems set inside a snow globe, a perfectly adorable, cozy and wintery landscape full of snow-topped pines, candy factories and imperial palaces. It was a perfect winter read, in that sense, purely because of its setting. However, there are a few things in The Enchanted Sonata that feel amateur-ish. Much of the characterization is flat. Clara was an okay main character but her motivation, her "perfectly planned future", are slightly ridiculous and I almost found myself offended on her behalf. The dialogue is sometimes oddly modern or childish, which doesn't fit with the fairy tale-esque backdrop. The writing in general could have done with some heavy editing since some sentences didn't really make any sense. These things would often take me out of the narrative and led to some frustration, but even despite them I did adore the atmosphere of The Enchanted Sonata and couldn't help but keep reading.

I give this novel...

3 Universes!

I did like The Enchanted Sonata, even if it's severely flawed in certain aspects. However, it has a lovely atmosphere and makes for a perfect little winter read that doesn't require too much from you, except some patience here or there.

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