Posted By: Susan Rooke
Posted on: February 28, 2019 10:45 AM
“I only desire your talent…”
Twelve-year-old Lindsey McKay’s biggest dream is to be a famous ballerina. But after moving to New York, she ends up at the Community Center with a teacher who’s a burly bear in tights.
When she meets Madame Destinée, the teacher of a top dance school who offers her classes for free, Lindsey can’t believe her luck. In exchange, she must perform in the school’s exclusive midnight shows, ones sure to make her a star. But something’s not right…
One by one, the other dancers disappear. Each time they do, a music box with a figurine just like the missing ballerina joins Madame Destinée’s growing collection. If Lindsey doesn’t discover the truth about the dance school, she might end up a tiny figurine herself.
Greetings, Readers! What you just read is the blurb for a very entertaining Middle Grade fantasy. Its author, Tonja Drecker, is a writer friend whom I met in late 2017 while The Space Between was making the rounds of a virtual book tour. She enjoyed TSB, writing the most thorough and thoughtful review of the tour, and has since then written a marvelous review of The Realm Below. A few months ago, when her own book was approaching publication, I jumped at the chance to read and review an advance copy. Music Boxes is her first novel, and I hope she doesn’t make us wait too long to read her next one. (To see why, be sure to read my review at the end.)
Don’t be deceived. Behind that sweet smile lurks a wicked imagination. Her bio tells us:
“Tonja Drecker is a writer, blogger, children’s book reviewer and freelance translator. After spending years in Germany exploring forgotten castles, she currently resides in the Ozarks with her family of six. When she’s not tending her chickens and cows, she’s discovering new adventures, nibbling chocolate and sipping a cup of tea.”
To launch Music Boxes, Tonja is offering various goodies, and one lucky person will score a music box. Here are the details she provides:
Early Order/Pre-order Special
Pre-order/order your book (ecopy or print) before midnight (EST) on Friday night, March 8th, send a copy of your proof of purchase to firstname.lastname@example.org along with an US mailing address, and you will receive an envelope with exclusive swag (bookmark, sticker, etc.).
The giveaway will run from midnight (EST) on the night of February 21st, 2019 until midnight (EST) on the night of March 15th, 2019. Entries will be made through the Rafflecopter. One winner will receive a music box ( the one found in the book video) with the author’s golden signature on the bottom as well as swag (US addresses only). The second winner will receive an Amazon GC of $10 (US). The second winner must be in possession of a qualifying US Amazon account.
The contest is open to U.S. residents only, ages eighteen and over. No purchase is required for entry. All winners must claim their prize 48 hours after notification. Winners will be announced on www.tonjadrecker.blogspot.com on Saturday, March 16th 2019 by 10:00am (EST). All addresses and personal information will be used only for prize allocation. Sponsor, Tonja Drecker, assumes no responsibility or liability of any kind. Please email all questions to email@example.com.
Okay, it’s me again. You can order Music Boxes from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo. I urge you to pick up a copy, especially if you have children or grandchildren ranging from around ages 8 to 12. Before you hand it over to them, though, be sure to read it yourself. It’s a lot of fun!
Here’s my 5-star review:
Highly imaginative and more than a little creepy, Tonja Drecker’s Music Boxes is a novel to get lost in. It tells the story of twelve-year-old Lindsey, who is uprooted from her comfortable life in Nebraska when her eight-year-old sister Bridget, a violinist of enormous talent, snags a coveted spot at Juilliard. As the story opens, the girls’ parents have moved the family to New York for Bridget’s schooling. Lindsey, though she loves her parents and sister dearly, can’t help resenting that her dreams of ballerina stardom are being neglected in favor of her little sister’s brilliant future. She is in this vulnerable emotional state when she meets Madame Destinée, a charismatic dance teacher who has it in her power to make Lindsey a star. But Madame Destinée, it appears, may have powers that extend much further than that.
Drecker writes the story from Lindsey’s point of view, bringing her to vivid life as a believable twelve-year-old with all the fears, self-doubts and misapprehensions normal for her age. Lindsey tries hard not to feel sorry for herself and to adapt to her new life in New York, struggles I was firmly invested in. Small wonder that when Madame Destinée tempts her with free dance classes and promises of glory, Lindsey wants badly to believe. First, however, she must ask herself how much of what she sees at the dance school is real. Can she trust the evidence of her own eyes?
A delicious sense of atmospheric foreboding pervades much of the book. There are moments that made my skin crawl and a jarring shock that made me gasp aloud. The intensity increases when, in an unnerving twist, Lindsey discovers that much more than her own future is at stake. As her courage and strength assert themselves, I was drawn irresistibly forward, turning the pages and rooting for a satisfying conclusion. The author’s deft pacing keeps the story moving along, while her skillful descriptions of the characters and the vibrant New York City winter setting add depth and richness. Music Boxes is a wonderful, engaging book that holds appeal for readers well beyond its intended Middle Grade age group. I loved it and look forward to reading more from Tonja Drecker in the future.