❀Aimee❀ Just one more page...'s Reviews > The Mussorgsky Riddle

The Mussorgsky Riddle by Darin Kennedy
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First, a toast to the author for a thoroughly fantastic read.

Gatsby Toast

This book is a fresh concept and intelligently written. Mira Tejador is brought to use her special gifts to figure out why 13-year-old Anthony has suddenly withdrawn so much into himself that he is no longer eating, responding to anyone, or caring for himself. Upon working with him, she is unexpectedly pulled into his mind world. It has a castle-like museum with paintings in separate alcoves.

castle alcoves

All the while, majestic frescoes above her vacillates, and music plays around her. The music is from the Anthony’s favorite symphony by Mussorgsky in the late 1800’s. Mira concurrently finds herself drawn into a local missing girl case and starts to find connections between both of her “cases”. Anthony is very intelligent but also autistic. When he interacts with Mira inside his mind, she tries to figure out the mystery as to why he has withdrawn into himself and created this world. The mind world can be quite harrowing and suspenseful. Mira has to approach the mystery somewhat like a spiral – getting closer and closer to the truth with each session without spooking him.

Mira encounters the characters within each piece of artwork: a gnome,

the lone inhabitant of a castle, children, two old men, women in a market, ballet dancers, and a freaky-as-hell Baba Yaga.
baba yaga1baba yaga 2

She herself is represented as beautiful Scheherazade.

The original symphony (which I referenced online and listened to frequently) was written to bring the listener on a journey through an art exhibit - which is what Mira finds in Anthony's world. The listener gets to enjoy varied music for each of the ten different drawings/paintings.

Mira Tejador (Mira “to watch” and Tejador “weaver”) is a three dimensional character and I love her. The author has done an amazing job writing a strong female perspective. She is a mother, has ex-husband baggage, is strong in some ways and weak in others, good with some boundaries and terrible with others, smart yet at times naive, tough-willed, and compassionate. She makes mistakes and takes missteps at times, but works to resolve them. She is introspective and tries to figure her own issues out (like so many of us do). There was an instance in the book where Mira encounters someone objectifying her. When someone tells her that the guy is “harmless”, she stands her ground to let them know that is never acceptable behavior. There is no insta-love, but there is a bit of the beginnings of a romance in the book. I love that it takes a back-seat but is another way the author rounds out Mira’s character.

The writing is intelligent and imaginative. The author uses words like a skilled painter. At times the description is flowing and elegant (and not in a distracting way at all), and other times it is short, vivid, and punctuated. He creates his own work of art through the words, evoking images, sensations, and memories. A few examples (since this is an Advance Reader Copy, the final quotes may differ from what is written below) :

“The dozens of watercolor children wandering the garden all stop and turn to face me. Their eyes, glowing with the same golden phosphorescence as their teacher’s, pierce me with their cold cruelty. As one, they rush me, their little faces turned up in snarls like rabid animals, their teeth gleaming in the light cast from each other’s radiant gazes.”

“Funny how all high schools look the same. The dilapidated lockers. The scuffed floors that never seem to come clean. The ubiquitous water stained ceiling tiles at every turn.”
school hallway

“…as my mind continues to wander, the strange connections between the boy and me begin to pop up like dandelions in the front yard.”

“Water drips down on my head from above, each chilling rivulet like a dead man’s finger tracing the line of my scalp.”
water drips

While the vernacular inside Anthony’s mind is advanced, I believed it was possible initially. Toward the middle, it seemed to become even more advanced and I started to wonder how even an intelligent boy would use the adult verbiage found in his mind world. Just as that started to cross my mind, the issue was addressed, so don’t get too hung up on that issue when you read.

The book gave a brief nod to other wonderful stories such as the Princess Bride, Alice in Wonderland, and The Wizard of Oz. Toward the end, I started to see some themes similar to The Neverending Story that had me feeling reminiscent.

book border

The author became a physician and then served as an Army physician for eight years. His "About the Author" says he wrote this novel while in Iraq. He loves music and mythology and still works as a physician. I love that he seems to be as remarkable as his novel.

I received a free digital copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Reading Progress

January 1, 2015 – Started Reading
January 1, 2015 – Shelved
January 1, 2015 – Shelved as: netgalley
January 2, 2015 –
8.0% "I'm already sucked in. Loving everything. Thank goodness. .. I've had a bad run of books for a bit."
January 2, 2015 –
15.0% "Still deeply intrigued."
January 3, 2015 –
January 3, 2015 –
January 3, 2015 –
100.0% "Amazing read. Review to come."
January 3, 2015 – Shelved as: alternate-reality
January 3, 2015 – Shelved as: art
January 3, 2015 – Shelved as: favorites
January 3, 2015 – Shelved as: mystery
January 3, 2015 – Shelved as: mythological-creatures
January 3, 2015 – Shelved as: psychology-sociology
January 3, 2015 – Shelved as: special-abilities-powers
January 3, 2015 – Shelved as: suspense
January 3, 2015 – Finished Reading

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