Book Review: The Mussorgsky Riddle, by Darin Kennedy

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press  |  Publication date: 12th January 2015  |  Edition: Kindle (Review Copy)

The Mussorgsky Riddle Review

The Mussorgsky Riddle

The Mussorgsky Riddle is a cleverly constructed mystery. It takes a trip down a very sinister yellow brick road in time to the musical score of a piano suite entitled: Pictures at an Exhibition written by Russian composer, Modest Mussorgsky.

Young Antony Faircloth is a special lad with talents beyond anything we could understand. It’s been suggested he has Asperger’s or Autism, as he doesn’t communicate well with the outside world with the exception of his younger sister.

Recently he’s been obsessing over his favourite thirteen note passage of music written by Mussorgsky, rocking gently to the tune as he continuously hums it. His symptoms appeared to escalate after a family trauma where his brother’s girlfriend has gone missing and his brother is under suspicion.

His mum has been taking him to visit Dr Archer, a child psychiatrist, to see if this will reopen the door to allow his mind to return to us, but it’s soon revealed that it will take someone with extra talents to unlock his thoughts.

Here’s where our exceptionally gifted Mira Tejedor comes in. Previously having assisted the police in finding a young girl alive and returning her to her family, Antony’s mum has also contacted Mira hoping she can help where Dr Archer cannot, by applying her unique gift for seeing into people’s psyche.

Mira’s gift is met with opposition and scepticism and yet she proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she can delve deep inside Antony’s mind. The result of her intervention will be more challenging than she first thought, when their two worlds collide with surprising consequences.

The phases of solving the riddle evolve during a visit to the ‘Mussorgsky Exhibition’ within Antony’s mind. Each portrait is a stage of the music’s movement and the residents of the portraits represent the people close to the boy, although they are crone-like, gnomish or some other fantasy creature in his world. The exhibition takes on a life of its own as survival instinct kicks in, offering subtle clues to Mira who is playing her own part and sees her battling the exhibition’s nemesis, Baba Yaga, an old witch, also featured in the musical piece.

Outside the child’s head the motives of a few people need to be questioned, people close to the boy. But will they give Mira the chance to dig deeper? Will she alienate her own daughter in the process, as her ex is muscling in while she tries desperately to gain Antony’s trust? And who is the menace conjured by his mind preventing anyone from discovering the truth?

The characters face challenging situations throughout and the fragile pieces of an astonishing puzzle will only slot together if Mira can interpret the cryptic journey that Antony’s mind is conducting.

The Mussorgsky Riddle is surreal, utterly fascinating and suspenseful to boot, making this an absolute marvel of a read. 

Rating: 4/5

(Enjoyed this one. It’s different. Many thanks to the publishers, Curiosity Quills Press, for getting in touch and providing a digital copy for review purposes.)

The Mussorgsky Riddle Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Psychic Mira Tejedor possesses unique talents that enable her to find anything and anyone, but now she must find a comatose boy wandering lost inside the labyrinth of his own mind. Thirteen-year-old Anthony Faircloth hasn’t spoken a word in almost a month and with each passing day, his near catatonic state worsens. No doctor, test, or scan can tell Anthony’s distraught mother what has happened to her already troubled son. In desperation, she turns to Mira for answers, hoping her unique abilities might succeed where science has failed. At their first encounter, Mira is pulled into Anthony’s mind and finds the child’s psyche shattered into the various movements of Modest Mussorgsky’s classical music suite, Pictures at an Exhibition.

As she navigates this magical dreamscape drawn from Anthony’s twin loves of Russian composers and classical mythology, Mira must contend with gnomes, troubadours, and witches in her search for the truth behind Anthony’s mysterious malady. The real world, however, holds its own dangers. The onset of Anthony’s condition coincides with the disappearance of his older brother’s girlfriend, a missing persons case that threatens to tear the city apart. Mira discovers that in order to save Anthony, she will have to catch a murderer who will stop at nothing to keep the secrets contained in Anthony’s unique mind from ever seeing the light.


The Mussorgsky Riddle Author Links

You can connect with author Darin Kennedy here:


 *** A little background information, in case you’re interested… ***

Following the sudden death of his friend and artist Viktor Hartmann in 1873, Modest Mussorgsky was inspired to write piece of music entitled Pictures at an Exhibition. The artist’s work was exhibited in Russia in 1874. The music follows an imaginary tour of an art exhibition. The movements in the composition take their titles from paintings by Viktor Hartmann.

It’s astonishing to think that Mussorgsky composed Pictures at an Exhibition in just six weeks…

Click HERE to listen to the piano version on You Tube.