The Musician’s Daughter

Written by Susanne Dunlap

Christmas Eve in Vienna isn’t a time for celebration. Rather it is a time to mourn, for Theresa’s father is dead. Her only solace comes from playing the viola Papa gave her, but it is soon sold to provide food for the family. Desolate, she seeks help from her godfather, Franz Joseph Haydn. His eyesight is failing, so he employs her as his copyist, for he must deliver musical scores to a publisher soon or forfeit his advance.

Since Papa’s violin disappeared the night he was murdered, she also sets out to find it. Her only clue is a mysterious pendant. With the help of Zóltan, one of the musicians in Haydn’s orchestra, and a determination to uncover the truth no matter what, Theresa discovers that her father was attempting to help the persecuted gypsies.

To complicate matters, her mother seeks Councilor Wolkenstein’s assistance in finding a suitable husband for Theresa. He, however, has other plans for his niece’s future. In trying to avoid his clutches, Theresa soon finds herself caught up in the midst of a dangerous plot orchestrated by powerful men determined to enslave the gypsies.

The Austrian world Dunlap creates is wonderfully captured and peopled with fascinating characters. The story’s pace mirrors that of a sedate, melodic score — perhaps for longer than it should — but those who stick around are eventually rewarded with a crescendo of suspense and intrigue. As I read this book, I wondered why a young adult, its intended audience, would want to read it. It seemed as if it would interest adults more than children, perhaps because this is Dunlap’s first for this age group; her previous novels were written for adults. Those interested in orchestral music, the Romany, and subtle mystery, though, will enjoy The Musician’s Daughter.