Book Review: "The Musician's Daughter" by Susanne Dunlap

Amid the glitter and glamour of musical and court life in 18th century Vienna, fifteen-year-old Theresa Maria Shurman is trying to solve a brutal mystery. Who killed her father, an acclaimed violinist, and stole his valuable Amati violin? When Haydn himself offers her a position as his assistant, it gives Theresa access to life in the palace–and to a world of deceit. Theresa uncovers blackmail and extortion even as she discovers courage and honor in unexpected places: from a Gypsy camp on the banks of the Danube, to the rarefied life of the imperial family. And she feels the stirrings of a first, tentative love for someone who is as deeply involved in the mystery as she is.

As a history major, I adore historical fiction. It's what turned me on to history in the first place. While some of my fellow classmates may disagree, I think that historical fiction is a wonderful way to introduce the average person to a historical time period or even they would never have learned about. In this case, as I've mentioned before, I am not a big European history fan. Other than reading about the time period in fiction books or watching movies, I am pretty much clueless. Therefore, when I started reading this book I knew I was going to be in for a fun read as well as a learning experience.

This book was absolutely wonderful to read. The story is just rich with detail. It's lush and descriptive without being too dramatic or unrealistic. Theresa is a character that I really liked. She's mature beyond her years but still a teen girl all at the same time. She just wants to solve the mystery of her father's death and help out her family. What she discovers is way more than what she intended but she's in for the ride. There's a wonderful mystery that draws the reader in and keeps you turning pages. I found the whole section about the gypsies to be very interesting. I've read about them in previous books and the prejudice against them during this time period is quite appalling. This book shows that as well as the point of view from the gypsies to give the reader a better understanding of how life was for them.

The story starts off a little slow, but there is a lot of character development in the first half of the book. The reader becomes introduced to the characters, the time period, and the setting. By the second half of the book, when Theresa becomes part of the plan to discover the truth, the story picks up and becomes very fast paced. I felt as if I was watching Amadeus while reading this book with all the musical references.

If you are a fan of historical fiction or music history, this book is for you. It's an engaging read and a great way to learn about music and European history. This is probably one of the best historical reads of the year and definitely the best YA historical fiction read of 2010. I can't wait to read more of Susanne Dunlap's books and I encourage you to read her as well. HIGHLY recommended.

The Musician's Daughter by Susanne Dunlap is published by Bloomsbury (2009)

This review copy was provided by the publisher


  1. Love that you loved this one! It's been on my radar for some time (Hint Hint...pass it on to me at our next bookclub meeting!)

  2. I found my copy of this one when going through my shelves this week...I'd forgotten I'd picked it up a while back. Glad to read your review!

  3. I enjoy historical fiction, but I don't read that much of it. I'm really not sure why. This one sounds really good.

  4. I'm intrigued by this one. Adding to my TBR list. Thank you!

  5. Thank you for this lovely review! I'm so glad you liked my book.


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