Books · Reviews

Christmas Review – The Nutcracker (Spoiler-Free)

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Hi everyone! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m back with another Christmas Review, this time of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E. T. A. Hoffmann. It’s such a classic and I’ve always felt so happy just thinking about it. โค

If you decide to read it I would highly suggest Tchaikovsky’s soundtrack playing in the background. It really completes the whole experience and you can easily find it on YouTube!

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The Nutcracker

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It’s Christmas Eve at the Stahlbaum household. Seven-year-old Marie and her brother Fritz eagerly await the arrival of their Godfather, Drosselheimer, and whichever gifts he may bring them this time. Yet it’s the little Nutcracker by the corner that ends up taking her on a marvelous journey…

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This was such a sweet short story! I love these old-timey tales as they always feel so magical, and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King was no exception. Yet I was also surprised by how dark it could be, especially for a children’s story. Which I shouldn’t have been, considering Hoffmann is known to be a horror/fantasy big-shot and I’d previously read his other piece “The Sandman” (very, very creepy).

This is the perfect Christmas story, not only because it takes place during Christmastime but also because it brings out the childish wonder and imagination inside each of us – much like this time of year. Everyone is familiar with The Nutcracker in one way or another, seeing as it’s been so wildly adapted. So it’s quite the comforting tale to read curled up by the fire late at night.

Like I said, though, it can get a bit morbid, which didn’t bother me but I really wouldn’t recommend it to little kids.ย The villains were actually quite scary and Dosselheimer’s stories, specially, were not all that cheerful either. I believe Alexandre Dumas’s version is a bit tamer and nearly identical to the original, but I guess any Brothers Grimm fan would be more than fine with this.

I really enjoyed Hoffmann’s writing. It was so lively and enthusiastic, and again had that old-timey feeling to it that I love (it was written in 1816, after all). It was descriptive enough without being tedious, and even if it took a while to get used to the dialogues in particular, which could get incredibly formal, it was well worth it. Plus, his ability to come up with such fantastical ideas, all the while keeping the reader perpetually confused as to whether what is happening is reality or not, was just brilliant.

The characters felt very realistic, especially because most of them were a bit unlikable. Marie was such a lovely protagonist, though, and I really liked seeing everything through her eyes. The fact that she’s not called Clara in this original version, however, threw me a bit off-guard.

My only complaint was that some things didn’t make much sense to me and it felt like I was missing some passages at times. Maybe a case of being lost in translation?ย  Who knows. I also wish Marie had been a more active participant in the story.

Overall, this was a really enchanting read and I just felt like going on adventures or start dancing while reading it. Plus, having Tchaikovsky’s amazing soundtrack playing along really made everything come together.

 

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~ Check out my previous Christmas Review ~

Thank you so much for reading and until next time!

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I hope you liked this second Christmas Review! Have you ever read The Nutcracker? Please let me know your thoughts below ๏ฝก^โ€ฟ^ ๏ฝก

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62 thoughts on “Christmas Review – The Nutcracker (Spoiler-Free)

  1. Wow. I have to admit that I’ve never read this. Although I know there’s a bunch of classics that I haven’t read, but the thing is.. it didn’t hit me that the Nutcracker’s story was actually a book. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I actually love that there’s a dark side to it, sort of like the Grimm’s fairytales, but probably less intense. This would indeed have been a wonderful read for the Holidays. I’m just going to need to hunt down a copy now. Wonderful timely review, Sophie!!! Keep ’em coming!!! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, in that case, I sure recommend you read it! Especially now that it’s Christmastime ๐Ÿ˜€ So go hunt that copy down!! Go go go!
      It’s such a lovely book, honestly. And it won’t be that long a read – in fact, I read it really quickly and it was pretty entertaining. Plus, I love that Grimm-like touch, definitely ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thank you so much, Lashaan! Expect more Christmas reviews throughout the month ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I adore the Nutcracker but I have a smol particularly for the ballet which is downright stellar (I took ballet classes and I was in love). I still need to read the whole story so maybe I’ll do that this December.

    (And can I just say how glad I am you’re doing themed reviews again?? BECAUSE HELLO I love themmm you’re so amazing โค)

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    1. That’s so awesome! I love ballet but unfortunately was never able to take classes… Don’t know if it’s too late now but I’ve heard of adult classes- not the same, of course, but I’d love to try them ๐Ÿ™‚ What’s your favorite ballet, by the way?
      I really hope you get to read it, especially during the holidays. Oh and with the album playing too, of course. Perfect atmosphere for a perfect story!
      Thank you so much, Ioana ๐Ÿ™‚ Means a lot that you enjoy them โค โค

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Does one I actually starred in count? It was made by my dance teacher based on a story called “The Princess of the Orange Flower” (orange as in the fruit) and I loved the whole concept. I played a thistle AND a lion cub BAM. Pretty impressive I know. Sadly I had to stop dancing early because of health problems. But I’m sure you can take some adult classes it’s never to late to start โค.

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        1. Ah that sounds amazing! I’m not familiar with the story but I’m sure if you loved it so much it ought to be wonderful ๐Ÿ™‚
          Hahaha that’s one epic combo for sure! ๐Ÿ˜›
          I’m sorry to hear it :/ Unfortunately, that seems to be the fate of a lot of athletes and it’s just heartbreaking. Unless it wasn’t a super big passion and more like a hobbie? Then it’s not as awful, but still pretty sad ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
          Thanks! I’d love to but I do have pretty weak ankles and I’ve twisted them both in the last couple of years xD So I’m not sure how that’ll turn out hahaha

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  3. I absolutely love this story so much and I have seen the ballet a few times. It is one that will definitely put you in the spirit of Christmas, for sure! I hope that you enjoy your next Christmas read as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. Great review for this book Sophie, also I really love the suggestion of having Tchaikovsky playing as you read this. When I was little I had a massive book of fairytales and The Nutcracker was one of them, I can’t say if it was the version written by Hoffmann but from what I remember Tchaikovsky would go perfectly with the story.
    This strikes me as such a perfect read for Christmas, and actually I may have to see if I can find a copy because oh I really want to read this again myself now. I’m really glad you enjoyed this story, and it’s kind of amazing that a book written so long ago is still around, being read and loved today. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Again great review! ๐Ÿ˜€ โค

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Beth! โค
      I think it's just the perfect combination and you're almost able to sync it with the book at times ๐Ÿ™‚
      I definitely don't think Hoffmann's version would be in a children's fairy tale book and I'm sure you'd remember it if it did because it's quite disturbing hahaha Not so much as an adult, but any kid would have found it so.
      I really hope you get to read it! And indeed, I love finding these little timeless gems โค
      Thank you! ^_^

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      1. That’s all right! ๐Ÿ˜€
        Probably one of the other versions then. I can’t remember I read it so long ago all I remember is that a version of The Nutcracker was in the book.
        Thanks Sophie, I hope so too, and that’s all right! ๐Ÿ˜€ โค

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        1. I just found out there’s supposed to be a cute picture book of The Nutcracker as well… I can’t wait to track that one down and see how it compares to the novel! I’m probably going to melt with cuteness hahaha โค Though I could do without the gory details xD

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    1. Yay indeed!! ๐Ÿ˜€ Thank you so much, Dani, and so glad to see you around again โค
      I'm happy you enjoyed that, I always try to explain how a story made me feel as opposed to just reciting what it's about. Makes no sense to me any other way.
      And oh, yeah, I'm super fangirling this Christmas (is Christmas fangirling even a thing though? xD)
      So are you planning on giving it a try? I'd love to hear your thoughts on it!
      Thank you so much, hon โค โค

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Glad to hear it ๐Ÿ™‚ Hahaha and yay to fangirling!! ๐Ÿ˜€
          Oh thank you, that means a lot โค The cover definitely looks super cute, even though I personally prefer the old-school one with the nutcracker in it. This one's a lot cleaner and modern but doesn't really illustrate what the book is about…
          Hahaha proud book molesters ftw! xD

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh great review, Sophie! I did know the story but haven’t read the book, I’m glad you’re showcasting it today, it sounds SO interesting! I have to admit, though, I’m scared about the morbid parts, ahah, but I do love when what’s happening in stories is a little bit blurry and whenever you’re not sure if it’s real or not. I might have to try and read that one someday ๐Ÿ™‚ thank you for the lovely review!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Thank you so much, Marie!
      It is super interesting and I think you’d love it if you enjoy Christmas stories ๐Ÿ™‚ The morbid parts were a bit odd but not incredibly disgusting or unreadable. You kind of get used to them and like I said, I would only be worried if a kid read it. We’re totally fine, I think ^^
      Yeah I loved that too! Because it’s a child you’re always wondering if she’s imagining things or not. It’s just so cute and magical โค
      Thank you for reading! Makes my day โ˜บ๏ธ

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh okay, well that’s good to know if it’s not too disgusting, hahaha ๐Ÿ˜›
        You’re welcome, thank you for writing great reviews like this one, it’s always a pleasure to read and comment โค

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  6. I LOVE this play… Iโ€™ve never thought to read the book, though I do have a picture book version I LOVE! โ™ฅ๏ธ Very intriguing how dark the story got… I do find with classics there are passages I donโ€™t always get fully… maybe a societal difference?! Glad to have you back…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh the picture book must be insanely cute! I need to see if I can get a copy ๐Ÿ™‚ I think if you love that one you’d love this one too!
      Yeah I get that feeling sometimes too…When they’re too old-school, they usually contain some strange values/morals and even the language of that time is a bit hard to come by. Also, tons of classics are definitely problematic but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy them, all the same ๐Ÿ™‚
      I don’t remember this one having too many issues, but it did get a bit creepy! Might have added to its charm a bit, though xD
      Thanks so much, hon โค

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  7. Amazing review!
    I also love how your social media-icons are in Christmas-theme, haha.

    I have to admit that I only read these classic fairytales back when I was a kid. So it’s been a while. I should definitely make a list someday and revisit those because I just know I’ll love them equally as much – or maybe even more so? – as I did back then.

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    1. Thank you so much! Glad you like it โค
      That's an awesome idea ๐Ÿ™‚ I think it's always going to be a different sort of experience no matter what, but not necessarily worse. We're simply looking at it through the eyes of an adult as opposed to those of a child, and that you can't replicate. But it's also a new perspective and that is quite cool too ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s true! It’s definitely why I need to reread the Harry Potter-books as well. It’s been almost eight years since I read those and I can imagine experiencing them differently now than I did back then. Although I know I’ll still love them equally as much, haha.

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        1. Oooh Harry Potter is a great example! I know I can never get the same feelings I got back then but I can understand some of the more mature issues so much better than before. And also, the fact that the characters and plot kind of grew alongside me makes it an easier transition. You don’t really feel like you’re reading a kids’ book with HP because it touches so many different subjects at once, and doesn’t hold back on its darker side. I love that about the series, even if I fear I might not be as into it now as I was as a kid.

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          1. Yep, exactly! I also think that rereading the books might have me respect Snape a bit more, haha. Sure, we all know how it ends now but maybe that will make us see some things differently when rereading? I have noooo clue; it’s why I really want to reread them!

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  8. Excellent review Sophie! I’m glad to be reminded of the Nutcracker. I haven’t read any of them before. I hope to squeeze one Christmas read in this year because I didn’t any prior years ๐Ÿ™‚

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  9. I love how you said to pair this with the Tchaikovsky soundtrack!! Totally agree (I love that soundtrack in general ๐Ÿ™‚ ) This is definitely a perfect Christmas story and so enchanting. Is it wrong that I love how dark it is though? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Lovely review!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!! That soundtrack is absolutely marvelous โค I've been listening to it non-stop, even after finishing the book ^^
      Hahaha nope, not wrong at all! I also found it added a bit of charm to it, in a way. Looking back, maybe it would have been way too bland without the darker tones ๐Ÿ˜› It just surprised me, I guess xD
      Thank you so much! โค

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  10. I’m mostly commenting for the Tchaikovsky remark… ๐Ÿ™‚ This book sounds right up my alley though, so I’ll definitely be checking it out. I didn’t know Dumas wrote a version, and being the crazy Dumas fan that I am, I’ll probably have to read both.

    P.S. I looove the gingerbread men in your background! So Cute!

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    1. Yay, another Tchaikovsky fan! (How can we not love him, am I right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ )
      I think you’ll love both versions, for sure ๐Ÿ™‚ I think I’ll try Dumas’s one day, just out of curiosity, but I’ve read it’s so identical to the original it’s practically the exact same thing. Need to test that theory!
      And thank you so much! โค I love gingerbread so of course I had to have it on my blog hahaha

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  11. I know the music for this one incredibly well because I am a huge fan of the composer ๐Ÿ™‚ But I actually havenโ€™t ever read the actual story even though I know the general storyline well. Itโ€™s amazing how dark fairytales or other things intended for children as an audience can be sometimes, isnโ€™t it? Glad you loved it though!

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    1. I can see why you’d be a huge fan, he’s amazing! I think you would definitely enjoy this book as well, as it pairs so well with the music and the atmosphere it creates ๐Ÿ™‚
      Indeed, and I only recently started to realize it. I think because they all started as tales to keep children from misbehaving and not doing what their parents told them, so they had to be scary and kind of traumatic? xD
      Thank you, I really did and I hope you do too if you try it! ๐Ÿ˜Š

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  12. Sophie I love your Christmas theme! This is so cool – especially the Christmas reviews. What a great idea ๐Ÿ’•
    I had no idea the Nutcracker was a book??! I always thought it was just a ballet – but of course it would have to be based on something lol. This is such a great review, you’ve got me excited to read it ๐Ÿ˜˜

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    1. Aw, thanks so much Laura! โค I love getting all thematic whenever possible so I had tons of fun with these ๐Ÿ™‚
      I found out a bit later on as well but when I did, I just got so obsessed I needed to read it hahaha
      It really is a nice story, especially if you've seen and loved the ballet. I think you'll really like the book and I'll look forward to hear your thoughts on it ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

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