It is eighteenth-century Vienna and Theresa awakens from a bad dream to find her murdered father being brought in the house wrapped in a blanket. The mystery and heartache begin with the absence of his beloved violin and appearance of an unfamiliar pendant around his neck. With her mother pregnant and their only source of income from her musician father, Theresa quickly realizes they are in a dire situation and needs to find a way to provide for her home and younger brother Toby's apprenticeship. Even with her mother and uncle pressuring her with a matchmaker, she gets swept up into the mystery surrounding her father's death and precious violin. His death leads her to the composer Franz Joseph Hayden, his previous employer and her godfather, and an initially frightening but intriguing gypsy camp full of animated characters she never knew existed. She finds many more questions than answers and begins to learn that the people she thought she knew were hiding secrets she can't seem to grasp.
This novel is similar to the Dear America series and other historical novel series such as Luxe by Godbersen and the Red Necklace by Gardner. These novels all include historically accurate references, while remaining very well-written fictional accounts of the characters. Readers may experience the lyrical feel of music the author weaves throughout the book even with no previous knowledge or interest in the art. The author has a great note at the end of the book about the historical references, characters and, of course, music.
Recommended by Allison Holbrook