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The Enchanted Sonata

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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.

The Enchanted Sonata, a retelling of The Nutcracker Ballet with a dash of The Pied Piper, will captivate readers of all ages.

375 pages, Hardcover

First published October 23, 2018

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About the author

Heather Dixon Wallwork

5 books1,673 followers
Heather Dixon Wallwork has been a story artist for Disney, a writer for HarperCollins, and currently works as an animation director in Salt Lake City. She is the author of the books "Entwined" and "Illusionarium". You can find more of her stories and comics at www.story-monster.com.

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5 stars
653 (37%)
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640 (36%)
3 stars
336 (19%)
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71 (4%)
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32 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 561 reviews
Profile Image for Allison Tebo.
Author 19 books351 followers
December 21, 2020
2020 REREAD: Just as magical the second time around. I can't wait to discuss this Book of the Month on Patreon!


This book swept me off my feet and straight into a beautiful world.

The authoress did a grand job in retelling The Nutcracker. From The March of the Toys to the dance of the Peppermints, you’ll find the magical movements of this beautiful ballet retold in a new way. The music that we know and love is wonderfully translated from notes into words. ❄

On this enchanting journey, we find an abundance of irresistibly lovable characters. Clara is a sweet and plucky heroine. But it is the quirky and gentle Prince Nikolai who stands out, infusing warmth and believability into the Prince Charming trope. His noble goodness and awkward humility made him one of my new favorite romantic heroes. Speaking of romance, I’m notoriously picky when it comes to that subject, but the relationships featured here were so adorable, I was grinning like a dork throughout the entire book. ❄

While the characters and plot are good, it is the mood and vibe of this story that kept me glued to the pages. This novel is positively steeped in atmosphere, with imagery as rich and dreamy as cream and written in a style as delicate as a snowflake. As for the theme, it was not only moving, but also wise. Everyone has a monster in their life threatening to eat them alive – it is the courage to keep fighting these monsters that turns victims into victors. ❄

This novel was like a fantasy version of a Hallmark movie. It’s tender, fun, and unabashedly cute – with just enough trauma and drama to keep me on the edge of my seat until the last page of an ending so completely satisfying, I closed the book with a sigh of delight. ❄

There was really nothing to dislike about this book. It would be like turning up one’s nose to a piece of silky chocolate cake, for The Enchanted Sonata is nothing short of a treat. ❄

This is my number one recommendation for anyone looking for a dazzling holiday read and an instant helping of magic. ❄
Profile Image for jessy.
124 reviews27 followers
August 5, 2022
DNF at 39%

Wow, I just realised that this book isn’t long at all, but I really had to fight my way through these 39%. I’m surprised I even got that far, actually.

I was pretty much enchanted by this book when I saw it. Cover? Gorgeous. Synopsis? Amazing.

I am a sucker for The Nutcracker Ballet and was intrigued by this retelling mixing that with The Pied Piper, which I only vaguely know because of German classes. I got to admit, I was a little surprised at the choice of combining a Russian ballet with a German legend, but with the help of our dear friend Google, I discovered that The Nutcracker and the Mouse King is actually a German story.
Huh, you never stop learning.

Also: music as magic. Wonderful. I’ve always believed music to be kind of magical.

So yeah, the story idea is amazing. I love it.

Execution? Not so much.

Now, I can’t say much to the plot or characters or whatever because first of all I haven’t read the whole book, and secondly, I just couldn’t concentrate on any of that.

I was struggling not to throw my phone away and/or break out into tears.

The writing, good Lord, the writing.

The writing wasn’t good. Not at all. It was clumsy and nonsensical and I just couldn’t bear it.

You don’t know what I mean? Some examples:

Their parents slept on, stirring a little for the draft from the open doors, but they did not stir.

They do but they don’t. Yeah no, I don’t like this.

Rat traps were large, because rats were large.

I know that the author wrote this to show the reader that rats are large, but man, that sounds awkward.

“What?” said Nikolai. “What what?”


“He is a bit of pancake-head, though”, said one of the Krystallgradians at the table.

What exactly is a pancake head and where is the article?

Now, Alexei still had that brooding expression now as he grasped the reins of one of the horses, keeping it from following its companions back into the prospect.

Why, oh why, is 'now' used twice?

Honestly, I could go on and on and I’ve only read 39% of this novel. I don’t want to know what else I would have encountered had I read on.

I don’t recommend this book to anyone.

Provided by NetGally in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kayleigh | Welsh Book Fairy.
547 reviews66 followers
December 26, 2022
— 𝐁𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐑𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰 —

𝐓𝐢𝐭𝐥𝐞: The Enchanted Sonata
𝐒𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬: N/A
𝐀𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫(𝐬): Heather Dixon Wallwork
𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐫𝐞: Fantasy
𝐃𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐏𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐝: 23rd October 2018
𝐑𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠: 5/5

Oh, wow, I am positively stupefied by this ingenuous magical addition to the literary world of re-imaginings and fairy tale retellings. This is my first Heather Dixon Wallwork book and it's safe to say that any fairy tale retellings she spouts I want to be the first to hear them. The Enchanted Sonata is the most enrapturing, stunning and dreamy book I have read all year. I am perfectly smitten.

I read the synopsis of this book and thought, 'hey, this sounds right up my street' and I had a little flutter in my stomach that happens whenever I see a book I will probably love - sometimes the fluttering doesn't pan out and the butterflies die a gruesome death of disappointment, thankfully this wasn't one of those times - and then I found out The Enchanted Sonata was actually written by a Disney story artist... Well, there was no need to tell me twice! I began reading the book with my hopes and expectations high, and finished the book with my hopes and expectations well fed.

The Enchanted Sonata is a flawless stature of a fairy tale. Wallwork combines the tale of The Pied Piper and The Nutcracker, which sounds like an unusual pairing but honestly contains more delicious layers than a luxurious Belgian truffle.

The prose is beautiful; so uplifting and inspiring, I love retellings where they light a warm glow inside and remind me that good things can happen.

Also - the little side story of Pyotr gave me all the feels! I thought it was such an adorable addition to what was already a moving storyline, the little details delivered in this story are the epitome of perfection and served on a plate of wonderful imagery that embody childhood dreams.

The Enchanted Sonata is the pied piper of books - see what I did there? - and I am the child lured out of my warm cosy bed. I would follow Heather Dixon Wallflower's precious writing anywhere.

Thank you to Net Galley for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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Profile Image for Alaina.
6,423 reviews215 followers
December 24, 2018
I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

B-E-A-UTIFUL! I loved this book so much!

The Enchanted Sonata was one of those books that I needed to read but didn't know it at the time. Now what piqued my interest was how this kind of sounded like a disney movie to me. Heck, I'd watch it. Plus, I basically grew up with Disney movies and Disneyworld stuff - soooo I was completely pumped to dive into it!

In it, you will meet Clara. She's kind of like the girl from The Nutcracker or Alice in Wonderland because she kind of gets thrown into a new world. Of course it has magic and wonder..but it also has some darkness (which I love). She's basically the cheerleader sent to save the world - because she's the key to actually saving this one.

Again, it will definitely feel like a disney movie you've watched before or one that could become a real thing. I loved Clara, even if she had an insta-love moment with Julien. Not a big fan of that stuff.. but then again, it does remind me 100% of disney lol. I will admit though, they had some good twists/betrayal that kind of shook me to the core.

I didn't see a lot coming my way and that's probably why I enjoyed it so freaking much. I enjoyed all the cheesy hallmark-y/disney moments. If I didn't have to put this book on pause because of work life or sleep life - this book would've been devoured in a couple of hours. I will definitely re-read this again.
Profile Image for Anja Karenjina.
305 reviews176 followers
January 5, 2023
Ovo je bilo sve što sam želela da knjiga bude, i više. Ne mogu da verujem da moram da se vratim u stvarni svet nakon nečeg ovakvog😭
Profile Image for Holly (Holly Hearts Books).
375 reviews3,088 followers
November 27, 2018
Personal rating: 4.25

"But I do know that in the face of bitterness and disappointment, when our souls cry out in despair and anger, that we might fight it. As we fight everything in this life-with nobility, courage, and grace. That is what makes a true prince."

Clara’s world is turned upside down on Christmas morning when she finds a mysterious present under the tree wrapped in velvety red wrapping, topped with a glistening silver bow. She opens it to find a handsome nutcracker and a strange book along with it. As she opens the book to read it, she immediately realizes the story is more than meets the eye.

The story is played out in front of her of another world inhabited by a young prince named Nikolai who is on the verge of becoming emperor of Imperia. Tragedy strikes one night when every single child across all the kingdoms are turned into toys from rocking horses and candy, to dolls and toy pots.

This book is literally the definition of magic. There’s an evil magician, fairies, a talking nutcracker, giant rats. I was absolutely enchanted by this world. A world described as a blur of jewels and glittering forests but don’t let that fool you into thinking this book is all gumdrops and spun sugar, it has its very dark moments. There are very gorey battles and heart breaking scenes.

Also the entire book is centered around MUSIC! It is built upon this aspect that music is magic and it is needed to save the world. Clara herself is a pianists. She was taught as a child by her now deceased father. The evil magician even carries around sheet music so when he plays his flute, dark and sinister things become reality.

Speaking of the evil magician. What a fantastic character. He was dark, beautiful, mysterious, and even had an entire backstory chapter which settled my love for him. He had so much misplaced passion and had such a complexity to him.

This is a nutcracker retelling and I’ve personally never been interested in the story which leads to my knowledge of it being minimal but I adored this story and had no problem getting comfortable with it.
Profile Image for Miriam Simut.
369 reviews91 followers
November 26, 2022
A short little summary: Clara is a gifted pianist who must help Nutcracker save his empire from a mysterious flautist who would destroy this winter wonderland and all its inhabitants.

This book was an absolute delight!! It is saturated in wintery whimsy, delectable descriptions of candy shops and bakeries, and spell-breaking music. I felt like I was reading a classic fairytale! ❄️🧚🎄🎵
Profile Image for Elisabeth.
Author 23 books176 followers
December 22, 2020
Oh, my word. This was the Nutcracker retelling I didn't know I needed. With a delightful Russian-esque candyland of an imaginary kingdom for setting, a pair of flawed but lovable protagonists, many cleverly re-imagined elements from the original story as well as a few tiny nods to other fairytales, The Enchanted Sonata is fun and heartwarming and was the perfect Christmas read. The story as a whole is good enough that it manages to rise above a few stylistic quirks and goofs (such as a rather eccentric habit of using anything and everything you can imagine as past-tense verbs). I think it will be a perennial Christmas favorite for a long time.
Profile Image for Danny.
244 reviews186 followers
January 5, 2019
Such a magical re-telling of the Nutcracker, with a sprinkling of the Pied Piper. Heater’s writing is so vivid, it easily transports you to the world along side Clara.

Really enjoyed traversing the world, the battles were intense, and music being magic was so beautiful.

Profile Image for Marta Barrales.
206 reviews69 followers
July 19, 2020
To be honest, life hasn't been great these past weeks. I’ve been buried in exams and my depression had a comeback; truly, I've felt pretty miserable for a while. Of course, I wasn’t really in the mood for Christmas either for most of December. However, I did have tickets for the Nutcracker at my city’s opera house (since I bought them a very long time ago) and was sort of looking for something according to read, you know, to get the most out of the experience. And so I came across this wonderful little book on Goodreads.

The Enchanted Sonata is a loosely based retelling of the Nutcracker ballet. If you have never seen it, the story is about a boy who was turned into a nutcracker doll and needs the help of a young girl to break the spell. It's an excellent Christmas story and beautiful spectacle if you love ballet, like me.

This book reads like a fairy tale. The writing style is appropriate and the setting of the story is equally magical. It manages to bring all the best pieces of the source material together in a world that is as lovely as the cover of the book. It feels whimsical and naive in the best way possible.

It does sport a couple problems of course, some characters aren't properly fleshed out, and at some point it’s clear that things happened exclusively to advance the plot. The humour felt a bit silly at times but that doesn’t mean it’s not funny. Despite all of it, I adored it. It's ingenuous and jolly and it made me feel very festive. I even loved the romance, which, I admit, doesn’t always happen to me.

I think it's a solid Christmas read, it leaves you with a happy feeling. Perhaps it won't appeal to everybody but it certainly made it for me. I only wish it had an epilogue or a longer ending. But anyway, I feel happier than I have in weeks and I'd dare to say that this book had a role on it.

Oh, and Merry Christmas guys.

Profile Image for Merie Shen.
337 reviews79 followers
December 26, 2019
Five stars and a standing ovation!

This past semester I've been horrible at keeping up with books to read, and I discovered I've been missing so much. So with this determination to finish, to enjoy, I dove into this book and was utterly swept away.

I wanted at least one Christmasy book to boast of before the season passed, and some lovely people recommended it to me with glowing praise. Besides, it's a retelling-mash-up of a ballet and a fairytale. (To be honest, it wasn't really Christmasy at all, so...) Plus, have you seen that cover?? It's basically to the eye what Polichinelle's candy is to the tongue.

The characters were amazing. I somehow managed to warm up to Clara surprisingly fast, and Nikolai... Well, I started loving him since before he spoke a single word on the page. Besides that, the side characters-- Alexei and Zizi and Drosselmeyer and everyone else! Even the nuns at the Indomitable Sisters Abbey! Even the piccoloist of the orchestra! They had real personalities, real character, and were actually existent for a reason.

The twist on the rats from the ballet? Mixed up with the Pied Piper? Pure genius.

The villain? I loved what Wallwork did with him. His backstory, his motives, the twist on those two classic tales and the role he played in both of them.

The whole plot thing about the magic-music-spell: fantabulous. Wonderiferous. Spellbinding. That's all you need to know.

The themes about being a "child" and the whole "rat" thing? 👍👍👍

All in all this book wowed me. It left me feeling really happy and satisfied and just... I read much of it with a smile on my face. I'm definitely gonna reread this in the Decembers yet to come 😍
Profile Image for Sylvie .
686 reviews962 followers
December 26, 2019
3.25 stars.

I couldn't quite get a Christmas-y feeling if Nutcracker based something isn't involved, it could be anything a movie, ballet, concert, book you name it.

This year as of last year I chose to read a retelling of Nutcracker, but sadly it didn't capture me the way I wanted it to.

The story wasn't entirely based on Nutcracker and it didn't wholly stick to the original story, which I don't mind. However, aside from being this a Nutcracker retelling there was a mix of Pied Piper in it as well. And it added a bit twist in the story and made it intriguing, because to be frank if it weren't for that the book would've been dull.

The genre is categorized for being Young Adult, but for me it felt like a Middle Grade instead, maybe that was one of the reasons I didn't love 'The Enchanted Sonata'.

Overall, this wasn't bad, I finished the book in less than a day which is a positive thing. And I would recommend this book if you like a book that takes place during Christmas and most importantly if you are a Nutcracker fan.

Profile Image for jenn.
694 reviews315 followers
February 4, 2019


i just couldn't do it. i got lost within the plot and i can't seem to find myself being able to crawl out of the pothole the author made. i don't feel like i should be reading this when it's given me nothing but faded memories.

Profile Image for Nemo (The ☾Moonlight☾ Library).
641 reviews301 followers
December 8, 2018
This review was originally posted on The Moonlight Library

Heather Dixon Wallwork is one of my absolute favourite authors of all time. She wrote Entwined, a 12 Dancing Princesses retelling which I have never reviewed here on the blog because the book is just too precious and the review would basically consist of my screaming for ten minutes. She also wrote Illusionarium, which was definitely not a fairytale retelling, but which I still loved because I adore her writing so much. So I was so incredibly happy when DW announced she had returned to retellings in this indie-published title The Enchanted Sonata!

The Enchanted Sonata is a The Nutcracker retelling with a bit of The Pied Piper thrown in, which might sound a little odd but trust me, it works. This book has all of the wit and wonder I have come to expect of DW, from her wonderful use of onomatopoeia, to the complete adorableness of every character, to the charming villain and his sadistic revenge. The main character, Clara, is a pianist, (which is great because music is literally magic in this book) and from the intimate way DW writes about music I just know it's not just research, it's a lived experience of music. In so many books about music or performance I have read, the authors are charmed by the notion but haven't lived the experiences. DW definitely convinces me she has played the piano for many years, and I would know, because I tried piano lessons for two years and could never quite get the hang of playing with two hands.

DW writes with authority on the subject of music, and she also loves using italics to make sure you know exactly where the right emphasis should be placed. She has a slightly quirky but very original writing style an voice that seems almost a throwback to her Disney animator days, and I love it. There's also an insult, 'pancake-head', which I found adorably PG (I pretty much found the whole thing adorable, okay?). I loved the way the story was framed and found it an interesting and original use of that device and, to be honest, I have been wanting to read a book that does this device very well but have been unimpressed, until now. The pace was fast but not breathtaking, with almost the entire book taking place over the course of only a few days.

I don't want to give away any spoilers since I went into this book basically blind, having only read the blurb, but I can guarantee if you've read and loved Entwined as much as I did, you'll adore this retelling as well. I don't even really know the story of the Nutcracker: it's not a story that has ever interested me, although my interested was piqued a little when I read a ballet book that had a performance of it. I've always loved the music, but I'm not quite sure of the story. That being said, there's enough originality in this book that even if you don't know The Nutcracker and can't identify aspects of its story, you can still enjoy this one as an amazing fantasy in its own right.

I will say that there is a romance and it's just as completely adorable as I have come to expect from DW, with no instalove and a definite build there between the characters that goes from respect, to affection, to genuine feelings. I will also add that DW comes from a Disney background, and this book wouldn't be out of place in a Disney library, so take from that what you will. I know there is a Disney film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms coming out this Christmas season, but they really should have taken this book and made a film from it.

I will also add that this book is not, as one might expect, London-based.

The whole thing was just absolutely lovely, like a fine European chocolate that melts luxuriously on your tongue, but you know, in book form. I will be very proud to add the hardcover to my existing collection of Dixon-Wallwork books.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Olivia.
335 reviews77 followers
February 21, 2021
The Stalhbaum flat on the end of Dieter Street smelled of scrubbed lye and hot bread and the hint of a sooty, slightly-stuffed flue. Tonight, however, it smelled of pine and cinnamon and wafts of clove, and the air fizzed with Christmas Eve excitement.

My rational editor brain: This book is a Hot Mess and you know it. Look at it. It is unbelievably cheesy; it is disgracefully unedited. It's got its good points, but it is painfully unpolished. You would tear this book to pieces if it were any other story, written by any other author.

My stupid monkey brain: russian-style candy emporiums wintry fairyland onion domes nutcracker retellings ver good much happ big dopamine release
Profile Image for Shantelle.
Author 2 books358 followers
January 4, 2020
A delight! An absolute delight! My sister could not have gotten me a better birthday gift than The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork. I should have known I would love this book, being that Entwined by the same author is my favoritest thing ever!

This one is a mesh of at least two fairy tales, one being The Nutcracker. And such a superb retelling! The charming nutcracker. The despicable rats. Sweet Clara. Candy and chocolate. Magic and music. A heartrending tragedy... Can it be undone? And what will it cost Clara Stahlbaum?

I have loved Heather Dixon Wallwork's characters thus far. Her female protagonists have a decidedly girly air about them. Feminine sensibilities. And her male heroes are heroes, indeed! Chivalrous and self-sacrificing. With an endearing personality. Ah, yes. I like it very much. The Enchanted Sonata was easy to read and the storyline - fun and alarming by turn - kept me turning pages. Humor and dark dilemmas. Love and reality. I teared up. I laughed. I finished this book with a smile on my face. *sighs happily*

It was clean and enjoyable, with a dash of romance, a generous amount of sweets, and some darkness and danger - but nothing too graphic. A thoughtful message. And also, some tiny fairies and fun, fairy tale-type magic.

If you like fairy tales, fantastical adventures, lovable characters, terrible villains, music, and happy endings, you should read this book. As for me, I can hardly wait to pick up another novel by Heather Dixon Wallwork!
Profile Image for E.F. Buckles.
Author 1 book20 followers
January 2, 2021
I'd hoped to finish this before the new year, but since I didn't, it gets to be my first finished read of 2021. :)

This had to be the absolute cutest, sweetest story I read last year! I enjoy the Nutcracker ballet, but felt so-so about Disney's movie retelling so I was slightly nervous I'd end up feeling the same about this book. But all of my reader friends whose opinions I trust the most and whose tastes are similar to mine loved it, so I needn't have worried. This story was totally unique from the Disney retelling and even the ballet (while holding on to essential elements from the ballet) and I adored what the author did with it. A brave, 8 ft nutcracker with a great sense of humor, wolf and bear-sized rats, fighting battles with peppermints, music being actually magic, and a young heroine who's sweet, brave, and talented, but imperfect enough to be relatable. What more could you possibly want? Oh, yes, you might also want a cross-over retelling of the Pied Piper, and this has that, too!

I just... how do I even express how much I enjoyed it? I read at a pace much faster than is normal for me because I HAD to know what happened. I loved that Clara broke from the mold of stereotypical kick-butt heroines with her kindness and sweetness, but was still brave. Clara was also imperfect, which meant she was able to learn a lesson and grow as a person, and I loved that, too. Nutcracker's sense of humor made me laugh out loud several times, and the romance (which didn't completely overwhelm the adventure of the story, I will happily add!) was so stinking cute! I even liked what was done with the villain and that he had a reason for what he did, twisted though that reason was, and actually had some things in common with the Nutcracker so you could see how they could easily become similar people if Nutcracker had made the same choices. The side characters also had their own personalities and things going on with them, and I enjoyed seeing their stories resolved as well. And somehow, the author managed to integrate a Pied Piper retelling into the Nutcracker retelling in such a way that it made perfect sense for the story world and the story as a whole. I'm not even a huge fan of the original Pied Piper, but I loved what she did with that element, too.

What more can I say except that I want all of my bookish friends to treat themselves and read this fun book! This will definitely be a story I read at Christmastime over and over for many years to come.

Content advisory:

No language.


Nearly all violence in this story is perpetrated against giant rats. There is talk of the rats eating the flesh off of people, swarming and wiping out entire towns, etc, but this is never actually described to the reader, nor does it happen to any major characters.

Rats get slashed, beheaded, stabbed, shoved off trains, etc, etc, and while blood is briefly mentioned many times, none of this is described in extreme detail. At one point, an explosion kills a lot of rats and there's mention of rat body parts and hair laying around. Again, barely described.

Nutcracker gets scratched up a lot and sometimes his limbs fall off, but being made of wood, none of this hurts him and his limbs are reattached. Clara takes a few scratches at one point, too, but none are serious.

Clara tries to hit a villain in the face with a shoe. The villain pushes her to the ground a couple times.

One human takes some slashes from a sword and a few hits (including being knocked over the head.) Blood is briefly mentioned, but the injuries are not lethal.

An emperor was assassinated via being shot many years before the story begins. The incident and events leading up to it are on the page, but the actual assassination is not graphic.


Clara fantasizes about the moments leading up to what she hopes will be ber first kiss with a professional pianist she fancies herself to be in love with. There are fuzzy feelings and touching of hands but she doesn't imagine the kiss itself due to getting too "blushy."

Two couples actually do kiss. One is mildly described and the other is not described at all.

The story differentiates between infatuation and real love that is based on actually knowing a person.


The closest thing to spiritual content is the presence of nuns who run an orphanage in Nutcracker's world. They mention God's provision and protection a couple of times, but that's it.


Music can be used as magical spells both in Clara's and Nutcracker's worlds. Playing a song can cause a specific thing to happen, like an increase of light or dark in a room, traveling between worlds, turning people into to toys or turning those toys back into people. Technically, anyone has the ability to do this, but the individual has to truly understand and feel the meaning of the music for it to become magic.

Fairies are also present in Nutcracker's world and have their own powerful magic that can transport people between worlds
Profile Image for A Book Shrew.
639 reviews144 followers
May 18, 2021
You know what the best feeling in the world is? Well, I'll tell you. It's when that book you hummed and hawed over reading finally jumps to the top of your TBR list and becomes one of the loveliest surprises you've read all year.

Full review at A Book Shrew

Admittedly, as far as re-tellings go, this started rough. It's a mash-up of The Nutcracker and The Pied Piper, and goodness was that obvious for the first one hundred pages. Subtlety was not the order of the day. It begins with Clara receiving a nutcracker as a Christmas gift and a storybook that eventually draws her into the magical world where the bulk of the novel takes place. Tiny little deviation to say I hate it when re-tellings use the name of the characters from the original. Like, please show me the Alice in Wonderland re-telling that does not have the main character as Alice or Ally. Anywho, in reading that storybook along with Clara, we learn the story of how the Prince of Imperia becomes a nutcracker with a little help from a magical piper bent on revenge. This piper's music turns all the children and soldiers of the empire into toys and nutcrackers, leaving it open to attack by monstrous rats and the threat that if the Prince can't prove he can be an emperor as a half-transformed nutcracker, then he'll be stuck as one forever. You can definitely appreciate the parallels between both stories, and the rats is the most blaring commonality. It took some time to stand well on its own, though. And once that time at around the halfway mark came, this story shone.

Looking back, this novel didn't feel very character-driven. In fact, I'm not quite certain what to label it as exactly. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing, since it does make me think more on this book than I do others. The primary character is Clara, of course, but it often diverted off for a chapter or two to a group of people in the big candy emporium. About a quarter of this book was also taken up by the story of the Prince's fall to nutcracker shame, and the story of how the piper came to be/his motivations. These sections were an interesting diversion from the story and wove the plot together well.

Wallwork's writing style really helped sell this book. The humour laced throughout is the perfect tone, in actions, setting description and dialogue alike. In particular, the Prince was a stand-out, being rather witty and often bringing a smile to my face. I even chuckled out loud in a few spots. I even cried at one point, which is the only reason this is getting five stars without hesitation! I would also like to give a shout-out for the more musical descriptions. It is such a central part of the story, and I loved how she would describe certain pieces of music. A song about travelling being reminiscent of rolling hills and speeding trains. Clara's love for music is almost tangible. I would be remiss if I didn't say some in spots the writing felt ... younger. Like at some points it felt a little middle grade, then would veer back into a more mature territory with words like pleached—which I can't wait to use in my own writing—and bicephalous. There were also a few written sound-effects that left me a bit more confused than understanding, but that's neither here nor there.

As with the original Nutcracker tale, there is of course a blossoming relationship between Clara and her nutcracker Prince. It's inevitable and sweet and cute and yet you can't help but take a second and go "what the hell is this?" She's falling in love with an eight-foot tall walking and talking nutcracker LOL! She likes the way his paddle of a hand feels on hers and it just sort of leaves you like, "ooooo-kaaaaay." I shan't give any spoilers, but please keep an eye out for a side character romance that is pretty much the sweetest thing you've ever seen.

My only complaint was a small section in the

I think this may be a favourite Christmas book of mine now, and I've only ever had one of those before. So in other words this is exciting!
Profile Image for Carina  Shephard .
332 reviews53 followers
December 22, 2022
5 stars // read for Fairy Tale Retellings’ Dec 2022 BOTM

I just finished reading this, and it was amazing.
-captivating world building? ✔️
-a sweet romance? ✔️
-humor? ✔️
-a music-centered story that captures the magic of songs without losing a reader who is not musically inclined (me)? ✔️
-a satisfying conclusion? ✔️

I loved how the “story-within-a-story” element was incorporated. And also the Indomitable Sisters. ;) Overall, highly recommend.

Content: some mild violence (fighting rodents of unusual sizes)
Profile Image for Janne Janssens.
178 reviews61 followers
December 2, 2018
Ebook provided by NetGally in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

What makes music...magic?

The Enchanted Sonata is such a magical story.

Heather Dixon Wallwork wrote a very original story, even though it was based on the well known The Nutcracker.

Clara has a clear picture of her future and Christmas would be the start of that future. That evening she will play a piano concert, for which she practiced intensively for two years. This way she will attract the attention of Johann, a talented pianist whom she has never met but is very much in love with.
The evening before she receives a special present: a nutcracker and a book. These bring her to an enchanted realm where a magician changed all soldiers and children into toys by playing magic music on his flute. He wants the Emperor to prove he is a real ruler. Clara is the only one who can break the spell with her piano music, but she's afraid to miss the concert and lose her picture perfect future.

Clara felt very young in the beginning. I don't know exactly why. Maybe because of her crush for someone she had never met, maybe because I saw Disney's Nutcracker only two weeks ago. Thinking she was maybe 15, her love for Johann was quite weird to me, because I thought he was way too old for her. The same with Nutcracker.
It took me a while to have empathy for her character. It was only in the last 5 chapters that the chemistry between Clara and Nutcracker felt right.

It was a great decision to tell the magician's background story. It made his character much more interesting and believable. However, it would have given more tension if the story had been spread over a few chapters, alternating with Clara and Nutcracker's story. This way, it would have taken longer to reveal everything.

Eventhough I loved Heater Dixon Wallwork's writing style, it felt like some sentences seemed to be repeated a lot. Because of this repetitiveness, the story lost its flow sometimes.

However, The Enchanted Sonata is a lovely, light read. Ideal for reading around Christmas time.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Hannah.
63 reviews
January 4, 2019
This book. I SO enjoyed it! I have zero objections, and all of the praise. Everything about was absolutely splendid. Fast-paced action. Perfectly timed humor. Adorable Romance. Delicious world building. Fabulous characters. Creative plot. Rifle-wielding nuns. Transporting music.
Just. Agh. So great. I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori).
1,188 reviews1,339 followers
December 6, 2018
The Nutcracker and The Pied Piper are two of my favourite stories, and when I saw that they had come together in The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork, I was thrilled. This book is fast-paced, and it contains a cast of characters who are each well developed. I especially enjoyed the writing style and descriptions of music. I would definitely recommend this book for the holiday season, even if you are unfamiliar with the two original stories.

Full Review on The Candid Cover
Profile Image for Charlotte.
158 reviews203 followers
October 31, 2018
DISCLAIMER: Ebook provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

4 stars

Clara Stahlbaum has her future all planned out: marry the charming pianist with whom she has fallen so deeply in love, and lead a life full of joy and music. But on Christmas Eve, when Clara is anonymously gifted with an intriguingly enchanting nutcracker, everything changes.

Suddenly, Clara is thrust into a world full of magic, war, and a terrifying force of evil that must be brought down. When Clara finds the fate of the Nutcracker (and his empire) in her hands, she must find a way to defeat this mysterious evil before it's too late.

Sorry about that mediocre synopsis. If you've read my previous reviews, you'll know that I'm absolutely awful when it comes to writing summaries of books. Oh well. What can you do when you're an unskilled blogger like me? Womp, womp, womp...

Anyway, getting back to the point, this book was pretty dang good.

In the beginning, I was skeptical. Clara, our MC, was 100% head over heels for Julien, our macho, manly musician (talk about alliteration!) / love interest dude. This kind of bothered me because it was yet another example of a young woman swooning over some random guy that she doesn't even know (*facepalm*). But fortunately, as I continued to read the story, I soon realized that Clara wasn't genuinely in love with Julien. She was simply using him to fill the hole that (SPOILER ALERT) her father's death had left in its wake.

Yes, the Enchanted Sonata did have its cheesy moments, but it was still a pretty great read. The pacing was perfect and I found myself falling in love with the dazzling, fantastical setting. 

My only complaint was that Clara seemed like a rather bland protagonist. She didn't have much of a personality, and (though I hate to say this) her character was kind of boring. I would have appreciated it if she was more fleshed out.

Overall, I'm glad I read the Enchanted Sonata. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a fun, magical book to enjoy during the holidays! 

Thank you to Heather Dixon Wallwork and Smith Publicity for supplying me with this ARC!
Profile Image for Lu.
157 reviews47 followers
January 7, 2019
I was hoping for an interesting, magical, and sweet book to get me in the Christmas spirit but this book would've been better suited for 10-12 year olds. For a middle grade this book wouldn't have been bad but for YA I was hoping for deeper characters, a stronger plot, rich language, and a sense of maturity that usually comes with the genre. The writing was quite juvenile and the book was bland.

There were some quotes that didn't make sense like this one:
"The outfit made her look a simple sort of pretty, one that said, You musn't kiss me, but I can let you borrow this library book."

The world building was weak and it seemed as if the author built the world as the book went along. I feel like if the world had been described better, I may have enjoyed the book more, but there were times in the book where I had no grasp of the surroundings since the author didn’t explain it well. One thing I can appreciate is that the author used the proper terminology for the piano, as I am a pianist and it irks me when they get the description of piano wayyyy off.
Profile Image for Odette Swan.
252 reviews14 followers
December 15, 2019
Clara thinks she knows what she wants in life, and has everything planned out. However on Christmas Eve a mysterious present takes her to a new land where she goes on a crazy adventure with a life size Nutcracker, and has to fight rats. She knows that she needs to help, but she knows that she can’t miss her big concert later that night, because that is when all her dreams come true. Will Clara be able to help the Nutcracker before her time runs out or will she have to make a bigger decision that will change her life forever?

The second I started reading this book I couldn’t put it down! I laughed, I cried, and I felt embarrassment for the characters. Heather tells the stories from Clara’s point of view and Nutcracker’s point of view. The way Heather has created this amazing story, it takes the tale of The Nutcracker and gives it a whole new light. I loved this book, so much that I finished it in four days. It got me in the mood for Christmas, and her writing will suck you in from the very first page.
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