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Showing 1-10 of 58 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 119 reviews
on November 2, 2016
The spirit of the bells, the voice of the musico, the echoes of the chanting priests, and the music of the masters permeated my being as I traveled the journey with Moses, Nicolai, Remus and Tasso. The scenes were so well developed that I felt transported to the Europe of the 1700s. The character development was genius - I would recognize these people if I met them on the sidewalk. The deaf mother and her gifted son Moses, Ulrich the choirmaster, the syphilitic former monk, the dwarf, and the bookish wolf and the beautiful Amalia - all captivated my imagination. I empathized with their pain and rejoiced with their triumphs. I cried at the cruelty and I basked with Nicolai in the warmth of the voice of Moses straight from heaven. I held my breath as his voice "sawed through my bones" and covered my ears as the bells rang. I wanted to join the animals in the forest to hear Orpheus sing his beautiful laments. "I believe in love," Nicolai proclaimed. If you do, too, you will love this story. Be prepared for an amazing journey! The Bells
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on October 3, 2016
The author is very talented, writing in a mix of fantasy and historical fact. It is about a castrato, but there is not much about music or singing. Instead, it's a novel about people, about obsession and love, and about devotion. The reader feels for the protagonist and wants him to succeed. I echo the words of other positive reviewers. The words flow nicely, but I can tell that they had gone through revision after revision to bring us to a unique way of telling a story.
Kameel Nasr is the author of The Symphony Heist, A Tale of Music and Desire
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on April 16, 2016
Absolutely one of the best books I've ever read. Worth well more than five stars. The writing is stellar, poetic and spot on. The story and the setting are rich and textured. I cannot imagine the amount of craft and research that went into this novel. This is not usually the type of book I usually read (I tend to read more speculative fiction and YA), yet it completely won me over. I have already ordered copies of this book for my book-loving friends!
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on October 23, 2012
This is a wonderful debut book and I thoroughly enjoyed sneaking away to read it on my Kindle. Writing a tale of this time in history (1700's) and the opera with such color are the best assets of this book. This author has real talent and I look forward to more readings in the future. On the downside, I agree with the reviewers that the plot became burdensome over and above the dank conditions of the 1700's, where dismal, good and evil were abundant. What I mean is that the author unnecessarily repeats or emphasized points such as descriptions of characters, emotions or conditions as if the reader is going to forget or not "get it". Repeating or over-emphasizing distracted the flow of this great story line. It was too much whip cream on a perfect dessert ~ not necessary. A bit more restraint and more confidence in the readers would have made this tale perfect. In closing, I do recommend The Bells because it is a very good tale and the author has real talent.
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on July 21, 2015
I loved this book!!! The author takes you on a journey you will not forget. Worth every minute.
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on June 11, 2012
I really enjoyed this book tremendously. Having traveled a little in some older sections of European cities the author was able to create strong visuals for me complete with primitive transportation, animals, and lack of sanitation. In each section of the book I started wondering where we were going next and it unfolded sometimes into totally unexpected places. Occasionally the characters would seem a little too typecast but in the end it really contributed to the overall experience.
I'm sure this review doesn't portray, in the least, what an excellent read this book is.
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on September 9, 2012
The book was well written with numerous descriptive passage that allowed the reader to "hear and see and feel" what the young man in the story did. The historical background actively placed the reader in the initial small community, the abbey, and the large cities in which the story progressed. However, the pain experienced by the young man was at times almost too great to bear by the reader.. I almost stopped reading the book at several points in the story.
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on March 6, 2014
I read this for book club and while most of the group loved it, I struggled a little. This would be a much better read for someone who knows and loves opera, for one thing. It was a harsh eye-opener into the world of orphan boys and church choirs, not holy at all. The writing was wonderful but I was a little skeptical about the coincidences that brought the book to a conclusion.
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on February 7, 2011
I tuned into NPR one day just as the author was reading a passage from his recently published novel "The Bells" and immediately went, as always, to find it on It was the first novel I purchased on my new kindle. I don't particularly like historical fiction or opera...and I loved this book. I could not put it down. I found myself reading way into the night after shooing everyone off to bed. During the day I practically hissed at anyone who tried to distract my attention. They were all glad when I finished this book!
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on July 11, 2013
I like the fanciful, mystery part of the novel but also the setting in real historical time. The character development is well done. Everything sings with music and I found that very enjoyable. The usage of castration to maintain the protagonists voice was startling and yet only stopped by the Roman Catholic Church in the 19th century. I found the novel well written with descriptions one could truly visualize.
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