STARRED REVIEW
November 2017

The man who made the Nutcracker

By Gregory Maguire
Review by

For those who are willing to hear and believe, Maguire unlocks the toymaker’s secrets—without sugar plum fairies but with plenty of mesmerizing mysteries and the magic of childhood.

Share this Article:

Tchaikovsky’s famous ­Nutcracker ballet, heart of the holidays for audiences worldwide, has its roots in “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E.T.A. Hoffmann, a German writer in the early 1800s whose characters often move between real and fantasy worlds. Hoffmann’s tale of a nutcracker presented to a young girl on Christmas Eve has been sweetened in retellings through the years (most notably by Alexandre Dumas), yet not one of the renditions of sugar plum fairies and battling mice has explained the origin of the titular Nutcracker . . . until now.

Gregory Maguire unlocks the secrets of the Nutcracker in an enchanting origin story.

Bestselling author Gregory Maguire drops readers behind the scenes of common childhood stories in such novels as Wicked, Mirror Mirror and After Alice, and in Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker, Maguire sweeps his readers deep into the forests of 19th-century Germany while linking his story to mythology and folklore. Paying homage to Hoffmann’s original tale, Maguire keeps us enchanted with the life of Drosselmeier, called Dirk, a boy of desperate beginnings who will later become a toymaker and the godfather to Klara (the girl who will receive the Nutcracker) and whose interactions with the natural world make us long for the innocence and imagination of our own childhoods.

Dirk, raised in the forest as a foundling, leaves his miserable upbringing after a harrowing life-after-death experience, the catalyst for his connection to another dimension. His wide-eyed innocence serves him well as he traverses the bridge to manhood and the real world, yet in his heart he knows there is more in the trees and streams and animals than what he encounters. He just has so few people with whom he can share his secrets.

For those who are willing to hear and believe, Maguire unlocks the toymaker’s secrets—without sugar plum fairies but with plenty of mesmerizing mysteries and the magic of childhood.

 

This article was originally published in the November 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

Trending Reviews

Get the Book

Hiddensee

Hiddensee

By Gregory Maguire
Morrow
ISBN 9780062684387

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our enewsletters to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres every Tuesday.