I’m back with a holiday appropriate book review just in time for Christmas! I just finished reading Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker yesterday and had to write down my thoughts on the book before the holiday passed.
The novel is written by famous author, Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. Knowing that and the fact that I adore The Nutcracker I wanted to read this to get me in the Christmas mood.
I won’t get into too much detail about the book because I don’t want to give anything away, but it centers around Dirk Drosselmeyer, the old uncle or godfather with the eye patch who gives Clara the nutcracker in the ballet. The story starts out when he’s a young boy who lives in the woods as a “foundling” or adopted boy. He has a weird encounter in the woods and from then on the rest of his life is quite the journey from working for different people and families to traveling the world. As a young man he befriends a celloist, Felix, and over the decades they form a very close bond. It is Felix’s granddaughter, Clara, that Nutcracker lovers are familiar with.
As a young man, Dirk has a knack for wood carving and we see him carve notable pieces such as the infamous Nutcracker and Mother Ginger and then he becomes a toymaker.
I did find the story a little sad because it felt like Dirk was just searching for love his whole life and he didn’t really have the happiest life. But despite this the story has a thread of mysticism, magic, and fantasy to it. However, it’s not quite as magical as I thought it’d be. There were so many moments when Maguire would hint at something other-worldly but then it would fall flat and would left me wanting something fantastical to happen.
The book left me wanting to know what would happen so I didn’t find it boring, but I think I would’ve enjoyed it more if I didn’t spend half (or more than half) the time wondering how it was all going to tie in to the ballet.
All in all, I don’t think the book is bad but I wouldn’t choose it to get in to the holiday spirit!