I come from a pretty musical family. My parents are both great singers and my sisters and I all played instruments at school. I initially tried out the oboe but couldn’t cope with the double reed. I then moved to the flute and, after a lot of effort, became pretty adequate. So, it was a given that I’d be interested in a book that a magical musical school with a flautist main character. The fact that I could get it free with my Audible account only made it better.
I had high hopes for this book. Not only was my childhood spent obsessing over a well-known wizarding series but I was an avid flautist in my youth. It felt like this is the book that younger me would have been absolutely crazy about. Although, I suspect that she, like adult me, would have been incredibly annoyed by the pronunciation of the word “flautist” in the audiobook. I think it’s an Americanism to use the word “flutist” but it just absolutely grated every time it came up. And, as you can imagine, it came up a lot. Although, it was nothing compared to the absolutely appalling accents on display. The British accent was pure Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins but the Australian? I don’t know who signed off on it.
In terms of the story itself, it’s the kind of story that will definitely keep younger readers happy but it’s not the most sophisticated book. There are several plot holes and the ending is very obviously signposted. It’s also pretty thin on the old plot front. Even the final obstacle that the characters have to face is a little undeveloped and rushed. Then there’s the fact that the world-building could be improved. We learn a bit about the magical world that we’ve entered but it’s not extensive. I ended up having a lot of questions about certain practices and rules. It’s all a bit wishy-washy.
Although, I do know that I’m much older than the intended audience for this book. It’s probably not fair to critique this middle-grade book as a 30-something. In terms of a fun and engaging narrative for kids, I think it does the job. Have I read better books for this age range? Of course. That isn’t to say that there isn’t something good about this one. It has a lot of inspirational messages and the central theme of believing in yourself is a strong one. It’s also got a lot of great musical facts and details. Honestly, the number of composers and songs that were name-checked is amazing. The musical chapter titles are fun and one of the great things about the audiobook is the accompanying soundtrack. Definitely one for musical kids.
Before listening to this, I had listened to the prequel story and absolutely loved it. When it came to the full-length narrative, I just wasn’t as gripped. The plot was a bit slow and repetitive. I didn’t like the character of Amelia as much. Possibly because some of her fellow classmates had stronger and more engaging personalities. I’d rather have spent more time with them. As the first book in the series, this does a decent job of setting up future books. It essentially gets the job done in explaining the world and introducing the characters. It just doesn’t feel very ambitious. It’s possible that future stories will add more depth but this has left me unsure of whether I want to carry on.