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Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  5,984 ratings  ·  1,097 reviews
From the author of the beloved #1 New York Times bestseller Wicked, the magical story of a toymaker, a nutcracker, and a legend remade . . .

Gregory Maguire returns with an inventive novel inspired by a timeless holiday legend, intertwining the story of the famous Nutcracker with the life of the mysterious toy maker named Drosselmeier who carves him.

Hiddensee: An island of
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published October 31st 2017 by William Morrow
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Lisa I think it would be OK for a 13-year-old, but not one expecting "The Nutcracker" story.…moreI think it would be OK for a 13-year-old, but not one expecting "The Nutcracker" story.(less)
Lisa I think it's OK for YA readers. I was reading advanced stuff at a young age. The "adult" content was a mystery, that's about it. Not scarring. In fact…moreI think it's OK for YA readers. I was reading advanced stuff at a young age. The "adult" content was a mystery, that's about it. Not scarring. In fact, I'd prefer this to the "and they all lived happily ever after" carp of fairy tales. Talk about setting yourself up for disappointment.(less)

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Average rating 3.18  · 
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 ·  5,984 ratings  ·  1,097 reviews

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Rating: 2.5/5 stars

I picked up this book because I was looking for a retelling of the Nutcracker to get me in the Christmas spirit. I should’ve known better than to trust Maguire to instill holiday cheer into anything he writes. I was definitely not filled with cheer and goodwill while reading this, which was a disappointment I should’ve seen coming.

Was this a bad book? No. It retold a familiar story in a new and unfamiliar way, from the perspective of Drosselmeier, the toy maker who crafted the
Erin Clemence
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire tells the story of Drosselmeier, the man responsible for creating the Nutcracker, as well as how he came to give it to young Klara.

Full of Maguire’s typical prose and poetic language, Drosselmeier starts as a young boy living with Hansel and Gretel in the woods. When a tragic accident leaves him without an eye and brings him to “the other side” and back, Drosselmeier is then sent to live with various families until he is old enough to become a toymaker. When his be
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it
The book began with a 'tale' which never really seemed to take shape or reach a conclusion. Mr. Maguire knows how to write this genre well; but I was disappointed with the disjointed story of Dirk and his purpose, and the mainly incidental references to the nutcracker he made.

I will re-read soon and try to piece together what I may have missed the first time around!
D.L. Morrese
Dec 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
An orphan boy is raised by an unlikable couple who live alone in the woods, leaves after an accident with an axe, and muddles through another two hundred pages with no clear goals. If there is more to this story, I missed it. There is no real plot. I didn't find the characters engaging. The prose is awkward and the dialogue wooden. This is, of course, my subjective assessment. Others may find something in it that I did not. ...more
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Young Herr Drosselmeyer travels around meeting people - some are interesting, most are not. Klara shows up in the last few pages, a sickly ray of sunshine, but by then it's too late. I kept wondering why the author wanted to revisit this tale if he couldn't be bothered to breathe a little life into the story.

The Coda, however, was lovely and almost, but not quite made me want to tack on an extra star.
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The walnut, opened.

I was intrigued by the gentle telling of this story, but the truth is, I didn't realize I had loved it until the very end.
Kit (Metaphors and Moonlight)
3.5 Stars

It took a while for me to get into this book, but I enjoyed it in the end. It was an interesting take on the background of the The Nutcracker and the life of the mysterious toymaker Drosselmeier.

What made this book hard for me to get into was how meandering it was. It really was the story of Drosselmeier's life, starting with his childhood, all the way through death. There was no real goal or stakes. But that was the nature of the book. It was meant to be more of a prequel than a
Erin Cataldi
Nov 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2017
CRAP! CRAP! CRAP! Why did I trick myself into reading this utter nonsense?!?! Why?!?!!? After Alice (his Alice in Wonderland adaptation) was bad enough (another 1 star review) but I was lured in by the premise of a backstory to the nutcracker. I'm an idiot! I should have stayed clear! My god, this story hardly anything to do with the nutcracker and the first 200 pages was about a boy named Dirk wandering the countryside, no mention of A nutcracker or THE nutcracker OR Christmas. NOTHING! ZILCH! ...more
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well I found this rather disappointing.
Ron Charles
Gregory Maguire would seem the perfect author for this act of creative investigation into the Nutcracker. He’s already delved into the early lives of such fantastical figures as Snow White and Cinderella. And, of course, his novel about the Wicked Witch of the West is the basis for that spellbinding Broadway hit “Wicked.”

But there’s barely a nutshell of music or magic in “Hiddensee.” Maguire has a style glazed with a patina of Old World formality. Don’t look for the passion and color of Tchaikov
Dec 04, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
“You might forget a story, but you can never unhear a story.”

I can't help but feel like I missed something with this book. Maybe I don't know the Nutcracker story well enough? Or read enough of "the flowering of German Romanticism ties to Hellenic mystery-cults" - but either way, I just did not enjoy this one. Full of odd magic realism/fantasy type story but also shocking moments of swearing and odd sexual incidents. There were times that it felt more modern than some of the time, placing and in
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another amazing mythical fairy tale from Gregory Maguire. A young foundling, Dirk Drosselmeier, who has courted death, leaves his home of an old man and his wicked wife who want to harm him. He has to learn to live on his own wits. He discovers many scary things in the world along with the fact that anyone he loves dies or leaves him.

Barbara (The Bibliophage)
Well, I gave this book until nearly 50%, but it never grabbed me. It's an origin story for Herr Drosselmeier from The Nutcracker. For me, it held none of the magic of the fairy tale. Drosselmeier is a wandering kid who never pulled at my heartstrings. He's mostly a nincompoop. I give up. ...more
Primrose Jess
Sep 10, 2017 rated it liked it
My experience with Maguire is that basically leave your conception of the favorite fairytale or folk tale because the book won't give you the same feelings. I am a Nutcracker fan and was eagerly looking forward to this book. This book was original, full of Old World magic and lore, and interesting... yet, it failed to capture the magical feeling I get when I experience the Nutcracker. It's slightly darker, matter of fact, and quite fitting with the capriciousness of the old gods/goddesses. I ca ...more
Kay Kuever
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My entire life I have spent every Christmas indulging in the Nutcracker, from performing in it as a sugar plum fairy or mouse as a child, attending annual local performances with my in-laws and watching film after film of live performances. It's a story I hold near and dear to my heart, if for nothing than the nostalgia. I've likewise, spent my entire adult life raving up and down the streets, parties, anyone who will bother listening to me my utter and COMPLETE love of Gregory Maguire's work. H ...more
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You have to go into reading a book by Gregory Maguire with an open mind. I didn’t know that when I read my first book authored by him but it’s apparent pretty quickly that you are entering a different kind of world. His books are not going to be for everyone and I’ve run into people that love them as I do and just as many that don’t get them. I find it surprising that I enjoy them as much as I do as I am such a literal thinker. To me that is a testament to Mr. Maguire’s ability to create a reali ...more
Cecilia Rodriguez
Nov 15, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The story begins in 1808 Bavaria and has little in common with Tchaikovsky's famous
There is an over whelming bias against Catholicism, with the story being extreamly muddled
with obscure hints towards Ibsen's: "Peer Gynt."
The references to Homosexuality are awkward and have little effect on the weakly written
main story line.
I would skip this book and find a local production of the Nutcracker instead.
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-books
There is something deeply dissatisfying about a book with the wrong title.

Mild spoilers below.

My early enchantment with Maguire seems to be well and truly over. For while this was a decent bit of historical fiction about nineteenth century Bavaria with some great folklore elements thrown in... it was missing all the glamour of Wicked and even After Alice. The main character, Dirk, was not so much compelling as... an enigma bordering on bland. His whole deal is that his past, present, and future
Madam J
Aug 25, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fairy-tale
*reads first two pages*

My brain: I don't think this is a good idea. I have other books. Read other books.

Also my brain: But "Wicked"! But "The Nutcracker!" You love those things! You love twisted up stuff. C'mon, it's just the first couple pages! Give it a chance.

*reaches last page* fuck you, stupid brain.

So, true story: I finished this book out of pure spite. I know what the author wanted to do. He just didn't deliver. Here's the short version:

*Nutcracker shows up 3/4 of the way into the book
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
In order to enjoy a Gregory Maguire novel, I believe you have to firmly enjoy his writing style. He is overly-adorned, writing with extravagant words and dripping with baroque prose. His words are sophisticated, but extra; elegant, but glitzy. He expels a sort of literary kitsch, and in order to enjoy the content, you have to be okay with this delivery.
As he did in his previous novels, he positions his fairy tale against a context of societal, political, and realistic settings.

Maguire uses thi
A very beautifully told story, about the reimagining of the nutcracker. Not exactly the story of the nutcracker itself, but instead about the creator of the nutcracker, Heir Dirk Drosselmeier. I completely enjoyed listening to the entire audiobook, and about this guy’s life. I found it fascinating. I recommend it to others who might enjoy this story as well.
For a much better written review, please read this one:

Recommended, and 4 stars.
Lavender  Sparrow
Dec 06, 2017 rated it did not like it
I really do hate to give a one star to any book but this just was not for me.
It had so little to do with the Nutcracker (a book I dearly love) that it wasn't recognizable as a telling of it until the last 40 pages.
I really had to work to get through this book.
Gregory Maguire always has just wonderful sounding books that just never live up to them for me.
DNFed @ 2:22:54

The reason I am DNFing this book because I was not really enjoying it and also at the same time I was not absorbing any of the information from the story, maybe next year I will try this book again with either the audiobook (for the second time. I was listening to the audiobook) or even getting my own copy and try physically reading it next Christmas time, I know it sounds kinda dumb / stupid to DNF this book when I hope to try and read it again next year or something like that. (
Dani N
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was enjoyable and definitely a unique perspective, but incredibly disjointed at times. I feel that the brevity in the chapters and a few displaced scenes really created a confusing reading experience that took away from what otherwise would have been a highly rated book. I still recommend this for fans of The Nutcracker but perhaps not others.
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Hiddensee is yet another fun re-telling/back story by the author of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Gregory Maguire. ​It tells the story of how the Nutcracker came to be, with some fabulous twists along the way. Have you ever wondered about the creation of the Nutcracker, made famous by Tchaikovsky's beloved ballet? Have you ever wondered what the story behind the legendary Nutcracker is, who exactly made him and why?
The story begins

"Once there was a boy who lived in
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another ARC from the nearby bookstore in exchange for a review and a promise to send it on to future readers. I've always been intrigued by Maguire's works, and did even make it through the Wicked series. Key phrase being that I made it through. I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't nervous when I picked this off the ARC rack. I was pleasantly surprised at much easier it was to read through this than any of the books in the Wicked series. Really enjoyed the premise of an origin story for the Nut ...more
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, 2018-fantasy
Lovely rich novel about the transmission of culture, primarily through the oral tradition. Memories and stories change over time and storyteller. The reader is at a (dis)advantage because they can refer back to the "truths" laid down in a fixed medium. I wonder about the different per/reception of this novel by people who listened to the audio book.

A story about the personal history of a storyteller, who mostly tells other people's stories. It is odd reading about a character who relies so much
Michelle Elizabeth
Oct 28, 2020 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Lovers of stupid MCs
If you pick this up thinking it's a retelling of Swan Lake, you will be disappointed (I was). It's really an origin story of Drosellmeier, and not an exceptionally exciting one. It starts off reminiscent of a fairy tale, then switches to historical fiction about a very dull (in every sense of the word...he's kinda dumb) young man.

Dirk Drossellmeier traveled the world, but those adventures are brushed over in one or two paragraphs and jumps to settling down and whittling toys. Booooring!
Nov 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Gregory Maguire's darkly whimsical revisionist tales of western culture's favorite folklore and children's stories sometimes have a polarizing effect on its audience. But Maguire has always been brutally honest with the hardships of his worlds and brutally adult in the telling of these stories we've always aimed at children. In this book, we follow the life Dirk Drosselmeier after an apparent near-death experience gives him visions of woodland spirits he fears will one day return to kill him and ...more
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
I am not familiar with the Nutcracker story and have never seen the ballet. It was all too silly and fanciful for me. I had to google the story after reading this book.

I didn't particularly care for this book that tells the story of Drosselmeier and how he came to carve the nutcracker. The story starts from when he was little and living in the forest. I did not quite understand that. There is magic and mystery in his young life but that disappears, too, like childhood I suppose, but I missed it
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Gregory Maguire is an American author, whose novels are revisionist retellings of children's stories (such as L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz into Wicked). He received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University, and his B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany. He was a professor and co-director at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children' ...more

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