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Book Review: The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork (ARC)

Hello, my fellow book lovers!

I know it’s been a while since I last posted, but life has been a little busy and that’s that. Anyway, I’m back at it today with a book review!

I recently received an ARC of The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork from Smith Publicity through NetGalley, and I have to say I quite enjoyed reading the novel.

Before we get into the review, I just want to thank the publishers and NetGalley for this lovely book, and I’d also like to state that this review is my personal and honest opinion of the book.

Now that that’s out of the way..let’s jump right in.


Clara Stahlbaum of London is a pianist and a protege. On Christmas eve, she’s excited and nervous about her first huge concert the following day, and about finally proving herself to the man she has always admired from afar- Johann Kahler.

As her family gather around the Christmas tree, however, Clara is surprised to find an unmarked present left for her- a book and a small wooden nutcracker. As she begins reading the book titled Clara and the Nutcracker Prince, she is awed and delighted to see the world of Imperia with its gilded domes and odd confections, its rats and its music…but her life takes an unexpected turn when she realizes she is part of this odd, magical tale.

The Enchanted Sonata is an atmospheric, musical, and magical retelling of the classic fairytale, The Nutcracker, sprinkled in with a little bit of the Pied Piper’s story. And I really did quite enjoyed reading this story, despite its flaws.


To start off, I want to first talk about the aesthetic of this book, which was the thing I loved most!

The cover is absolutely beautiful, the font is really attractive, and every chapter has this…tiny illustration of the Imperian Palace domes that was just absolutely lovely.

The setting and the atmosphere of the book were also quite enchanting. It had something of a winter wonderland meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory vibe to it, and I was all for that. I also really enjoyed the world of Imperia with its fairies, and rats, and candies, and palaces.

The Nutcracker, with its various retellings, is one of my most favourite fairytales to read! I feel like the story works best on page rather than on any other platform, and there is always this Christmas-y feel to it that just keeps you hooked and reminds you of warm cookies and fireplaces. And this book definitely managed to carry over some of that original aesthetic into itself. And I really, really appreciated that.

“Looking at the man was a somewhat Medusian experience. One could look at him long enough to see his golden curls, his half-smile, see that he was young enough to be a university student but old enough to wear a vest and tie and look quite dashing in them.But a person would rarely observe him longer than a glance, because the gentleman musician would turn to look back, and his blue eyes were just a little too bright and sharp and didn’t blink as often as they should and one would suddenly feel very, very uncomfortable.”

The characters in this story were…something, really. I can’t really say if I liked them or not. I can’t really say much, to be honest.

There were moments where I was deeply touched, and where I felt like I understood these characters. They felt real, and not like a jumble of character traits moulded into a person. But these moments were few and far apart, and I didn’t really know what to make of these characters in between these moments.

The main character Clara is a little bit of an idiot, and she’s straight up obsessed with this Johann guy. I mean, she is fifteen, and that kind of puts her madness in perspective, but she still feels a little off. I found Nikolai, the Nutcracker prince, to be more likeable than her. But not by a lot, that’s for sure.

The villain also isn’t someone too interesting or anything. He was just….kind of evil. There was a backstory and everything, but it fell a little flat for me. It didn’t hit as hard as the author had intended it to.

Most characters that weren’t these three were very inconsistent and two-dimensional. It was very underwhelming, to say the least.

“The words had risen, real, from the pages. Mother and Fritz hadn’t seemed to experience it the same way Clara had. She had actually felt it when Prince Nikolai had been riding through the mountain forest. The bitter cold air. The smell of soft pine. The thud of Kriket’s hooves. When the prince strode through the Palace, Clara inhaled the musty scent of old furniture and incense, and saw the glisten of chandelier prisms reflecting across the walls. There was magic in this book, and it gave Clara shivers.”

The writing in this book is bad. There, I said it.

It’s not unbearable. It has its moments. But, overall, it’s bad. It’s inconsistent, it’s cheesy and just….not good. The author kept shifting in between the limited third person and the omniscient third person throughout the book, and while I do know that this is very dorky of me, it bothered me so much!!!

The good writing parts were immersive, but the poor writing-parts were just as good at de-immersing you from the world. Like, yes, the description of music and the setting would be lovely, but the next moment there would be some corny dialogue or some unnecessary exaggeration, and that would just ruin it all. There were also quite a few grammatical and spelling errors in the copy of the book that I received and that was a huge bummer, too.

There was, however, the two-fold narration in the book which I found entertaining and cool.

“It was like learning another language, a purer language. Languages could tell you what to say; music made you feel.” 

Lastly, the plot. This isn’t a new and unique story, I’ll tell you as much. But it does have something to it that isn’t too ordinary either. It’s a fun story, and it’s a really great concept of one. The execution knocks it down a couple of pegs, but not too many. At least, not for me.

The pacing of the story was also a bit off, but I blame that on my reading slump and not the book itself. xD

Overall, I found the book to be enjoyable. Yes, it has a lot of technical flaws and there were places where I would totally have DNF’d this book had it not been for the fact that this is an ARC, and I wanted to give it a chance, but there were also places where I would just forget everything around me and just keep reading.

Was this one of my favourites ever? Nope, Would I recommend it? Depends, because this is definitely not for everyone. Did I hate it? Again, no. But I didn’t love it either.

I gave this book a three out of five stars on Goodreads, and I think this one definitely had so much more potential. Still, I’m not too sad about how it turned out, all things considered!


 

Well, that was it for my review of The Enchanted Sonata. The book came out this October, and if you’re in the mood from some light, Christmas-y, going-on-in-the-side read, I would totally recommend picking this one up.

Thanks for the read, and hope you guys liked my review!

Have a nice day, y’all, and, as always, Happy reading! 🙂

 

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