Reviews for The Musician's Daughter
Booklist Reviews 2008 November #1
In Liszt s Kiss (2007) and her other novels for adults, Dunlap creates gripping mysteries, awash in European history, that imagine the lives of great musicians. In her first youth title, she builds on that same formula in a suspenseful story set in eighteenth-century Vienna. Fifteen-year-old Theresa Maria is devastated when her father, a court violinist, is murdered. While her pregnant mother is bedridden, Theresa must keep her family afloat, and she finds work with her godfather, Franz Joseph Haydn, who helps her unravel the circumstances behind her father s death and tells her about her father s secret life as a political reformer on behalf of the serfs and the Romany population. Dunlap skillfully builds suspense until the final page, as Theresa follows clues through smoky Gypsy camps and opulent palace halls, sustained by her desire to uphold her father s values: "justice, fairness--and most of all music." Readers will root for courageous Theresa through the exciting intrigue even as they absorb deeper messages about music and art s power to lift souls and inspire change. Copyright Booklist Reviews 2008.
Kirkus Reviews 2008 December #1
A 15-year-old living in 18th-century Vienna finds herself entwined in political intrigue when she boldly investigates her father's puzzling murder. A violinist in composer Franz Joseph Haydn's orchestra at the court of Hungarian Prince Esterhazy, Theresa's father inspired her love of music. When his body is found under mysterious circumstances near a Gypsy camp along the Danube and his violin goes missing, Theresa is determined to uncover the truth. Her search leads her into the forbidden Gypsy camps, glittering ballrooms and dank sewers of Imperial Vienna. The spirited, impetuous Theresa tells her own story, allowing readers to experience the immediacy of rapidly unfolding events amidst the glamour and turmoil of Haydn's Vienna. As Theresa discovers her father's role in a controversial cause supporting Hungarian serfs, she encounters deception and danger as well as honor and loyalty. While Theresa's naïve and headstrong pursuit of her father's murderer tests credibility, she's a gutsy, sympathetic heroine who remains true to her friends, in a fast-paced historical adventure that offers a hint of romance. (Historical fiction. 12-16) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2009 May/June
Following the death of her father, a court musician for Prince Esterhazy, Maria Theresa is determined to uncover the mystery of his death and recover his violin. In late 1800s Vienna, Theresa unexpectedly finds herself caught up in a world of gypsies, murder, music, and intrigue. As her investigation quickly unfolds, Theresa discovers information about her father, his friends, and her godfather, the composer Franz Haydn, which ultimately places Theresa, her brother, and an entire community of gypsies in mortal danger. While the story is fast-paced and holds the interest of the reader, at times the many facets are difficult to follow, although they are wrapped up neatly to conclude the story. However, a slight opening is created for a possible sequel. The richly detailed setting, historical elements of Hungarian and Romany power struggles, along with a look into the life of court musicians will appeal to those students eager for a different brand of historical novel. Give this to readers who enjoyed Lynn Cullen?s I am Rembrandt?s Daughter (Bloomsbury, 2007). Recommended. C. Ellen Wickham, Library Media Specialist, Raytown (Missouri) South High School ¬ 2009 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 December #2
A mix of mystery, thriller and romance set in 18th-century Vienna, Dunlap's uneven debut YA novel begins as the body of Theresa Maria's murdered father is brought home. Though he had appeared to be simply a musician caring for his family and passing his love of music to his daughter, Theresa discovers that her father was a spy, investigating the cruelty of Hungarian lords who were persecuting the Gypsies, an intriguing set-up that is not deeply explored. Franz Josef Haydn, the real-life conductor of the orchestra where Theresa's father was a violinist, is losing his eyesight and needs Theresa, his goddaughter, to clerk for him. Like a number of other story points, this one lacks support: why would Haydn trust other musicians with the plot involving the Hungarian lords, but not trust them with the secret of his failing eyesight? While the heady setting and Theresa's determination are enjoyable, the story is a little too ambitious and gets beyond the writer's control. Ages 12- up. (Jan.) [Page 59]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2009 May
Gr 7 Up--After Theresa's father is murdered on Christmas Eve, his body is discovered in a Gypsy camp, his precious violin missing. Her mother is with child and not well, so it is up to Theresa to make funeral arrangements and to figure out how their family will survive without Papa's income. Theresa has had an unusual upbringing for a young woman in 18th-century Vienna: she has been taught to play the viola. Even so, it is unlikely that anyone would hire a 15-year-old girl, so she seeks the help of her father's friend and employer, the composer Franz Joseph Hayden. He reveals a secret to her: he is going blind and needs her assistance putting his compositions to paper. While working for him, the teen is also intent upon solving the mystery of her father's death, and she discovers that Hayden's blindness is not the only secret Papa had been keeping. Despite a slow start and an ending that wraps things up a bit too tidily, this book is a rip-roaring adventure with music, murder, and espionage. It's clearly well researched, and the level of detail in the narrative makes readers believe that this story might have actually happened. Theresa's first-person narrative reveals her to be a quick-thinking, courageous, and likable individual. Pair this book with Philip Pullman's "Sally Lockhart" series (Knopf) for some entertaining historical mysteries with plucky heroines.--Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO [Page 104]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2009 February
From the opening chapter when fifteen-year-old Theresa's violinist father is brought home dead, the intrigue does not let up in this mystery set in eighteenth-century Vienna. Theresa turns to her godfather, Franz Joseph Haydn, to find out what happened to her father and his violin and takes her father's place as Haydn's copyist, writing down the music he creates to earn enough to help with expenses for her family. Because of his poor eyesight, Haydn needs Theresa's help to keep his position as the Kapellmeister, the music director for the prince of Esterhazy. As Theresa spends more time at the castle, she becomes embroiled in the politics and discovers that there is a lot about her father she did not know. She tries to unravel what really happened, meets the Hungarian gypsies who live nearby, and learns that her evil uncle is trafficking in young boys when she has to save her younger brother from his gripDunlap's book is rich with historical information, including real people and credible details. It is interesting to see how music was physically written and to learn about the demands put on people such as Haydn to create and perform daily. Details of everyday life create a picture of the world these characters live in, including the primitive sewer system and the prejudice under which the gypsies lived. The story is filled with action, and the heroine is both strong-willed and smart. Add a first romance for Theresa and a brand new baby sister and the result is a multilayered believable world--Cindy Faughnan 4Q 4P M J S Copyright 2009 Voya Reviews.