Reviews for The Mussorgsky Riddle

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Darin Kennedy’s debut novel, The Mussorgsky Riddle, is a masterfully written

ode to Pictures at an Exhibition and a thrilling, psychological page turner!

Roy A. Mauritsen, author of Shards of the Glass Slipper


Both a psychological thriller and a fantasy quest,

The Mussorgsky Riddle is imaginative, thoughtful and ambitious.

A.J. Hartley, New York Times and USA Today Best Selling Author of

The Mask of Atreus and On The Fifth Day


Genius, madness, magic and murder in a well-spun, suspenseful tale.

Gail Z. Martin, author of Deadly Curiosities


Darin Kennedy nailed it. His debut is as strong as it is solid.

Fast-paced and filled with twists that will keep you turning pages,

The Mussorgsky Riddle is a fresh idea executed

with all the finesse of a seasoned author. Don’t miss this book!

Linda Robertson, author of the Persephone Alcmedi series


Darin Kennedy is a literary genius. The Mussorgsky Riddle is truly like nothing that I have ever read before. Mr. Kennedy describes the fantasy world inside Anthony’s mind so vividly that it leaps off the page. The fast-paced story grabs ahold of you and does not let go until you have turned the very last page. I must admit that I did figure out who the villain was before it was actually revealed, but that in no way takes away from the brilliance of this book. The characters are well-developed and realistic. There is even a touch of romance. Mira Tejedor is a fascinating protagonist and I sincerely hope that Mr. Kennedy has more adventures planned for her.

5-Star Review from Lori at Bitten By Books


What an enchanting story!! Educational, absorbing, paranormal, classical, mythical–with soul-stirring, soul-consuming depths, THE MUSSORGSKY RIDDLE is lyrical, empathetic, literary; and because of it, I developed an affinity for the classical music at its heart–specifically Mussorgsky’ s PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION, and its contemporary reprisal, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’ s version of it, also Mussorgsky’ s NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN.

Review from Mallory at Mallory Heart Reviews


This book is a fresh concept and intelligently written… Mira Tejedor (Mira “to watch” and Tejedor “weaver”) is a three dimensional character and I love her… The author has done an amazing job writing a strong female perspective… The writing is intelligent and imaginative. The author uses words like a skilled painter. At times the description is flowing and elegant (and not in a distracting way at all), and other times it is short, vivid, and punctuated. He creates his own work of art through the words, evoking images, sensations, and memories.

Review from Aimee *just one more page…* on Goodreads


The Mussorgsky Riddle is a well constructed story… I liked the cover art, kudos to Polina Sapershteyn.

Review from Rosa at


“The Mussorgsky Riddle”…  was a very unusual, intricate mystery… The book started out strongly with many details that kept the reader interested and willing to suspend their disbelief in psychic phenomenon Unfortunately as the book progresses, there are so many riddles, twists and turns that the reader gets tired. I found myself muttering at my Kindle for the author to “just get on with it already!”… I will certainly keep Darin Kennedy on my radar as he is a good writer… The ending is as good as the beginning.

Review from Jennifer at Just Add Water, Silly.


Based on Modest Mussorgsky’s classical Russian suite, Pictures at an Exhibition, The Mussorgsky Riddle is a wonderful debut and a great entry into the paranormal mystery genre. What really drew me to this story was the ability on Kennedy’s part to really delve into his wealth of ability when it comes to writing strong First Person POV… Kennedy wows us with vivid imagery, well-developed dialogue, and brushes of introspective genius in some of the story’s pivotal moments. His characters are varied and fleshed out so that they aren’t just tropes moving around on the page—they are real people, with real frailties and sense, something that I think often gets lost in First Person. More importantly, however, Kennedy goes out of his way to make his main actors human in the truest sense. Mira rarely has an off-note, nor do her gallery of rogues. Without being too spoiler-y, this version of Baba Yaga is probably the best I have ever come across, and I like Hellboy. That’s how good this Baba Yaga is… Overall, this is a damned final novel. With its lush setting, a cast of unique characters, and a well written story, The Mussorgsky Riddle is a book we should all pick up and give a serious read.

Review from Jay at Sit, Write, Bleed.


The real world setting for the novel is Charlotte, NC, and well written so that as a local I know where the characters are at most of the time. It is the dreamscape world of Anthony’s mind that is amazingly rendered through words that paint a magical landscape and characters, influenced by his real world surroundings, mythology, music, and art that takes the readers along on a the psychic quest with Mira. The immersion is so complete that when real life invades this young boys imaginary happenings it is done with such ease that the reader follows willingly without being jarred with the transition. The storytelling itself is tight and and easy to follow… Overall, I was sucked in as a reader…. I highly recommend Darin Kennedy’s first novel. It did not disappoint me, and for those who enjoy the genre I do not think that it will disappoint  you either.

Review from Micki at


Great book. I couldn’t put it down. Love the characters and the world that has been created. There are great twists and turns that will keep the reader turning the page. Readers who love dark-fantasy novels will want to add this one to their TBR list. I look forward to reading more of Darin’s books.

Review from Diane at A Creative Mind


After a bit of a halting start with this book when I first picked it up, I picked it up again some minutes later and found myself really drawn in. Having intended to read, at the most, 10% before going to bed, I was very surprised to find I’d reached 42% without conscious thought.

Review from Sarah at Ink of Blood


The beginning had me hooked and carried me easily through the rest of the story. The story is consistent and moves at a decent pace that I found myself turning the pages even though I needed to do something else.

Review from Aisazia at OriginiquEquanimity


Exquisitely crafted and flawlessly rendered…this is nothing short of a masterpiece of modern fiction. If you have not read this book, buy it and begin to read. You know how we all want to be drawn into another world? To be swept away with a masterfully created story?

This is that book. This is a book that will become an instant classic in your mind and library. I have recommended it to everyone I know, professionally and socially.

The interwoven tale blends classical music, an autistic child that no one can reach, a murder mystery, and misunderstood psychic. I refuse to say much more as the book is meant to be savored like a fine wine. I actually slowed down in reading it, knowing the sadness my heart would feel when there were no more pages to read.

Thank you Dr. Kennedy for the best book I’ve read in years, one that can be held up to all the old classics and proudly displayed as their equal.

Review from Kat at Quill or Pill?


When I read the synopsis of this book I knew I needed to read it. It’s been a long time since I’ve read something like this and I just had to give it a go and I’m so glad I did!

Review from Ninnie at Bookaholic Babe


This is an interesting read for starters. I like the plot premise and the use of visual descriptions however at times there was just too much information to process before the story could continue. Sometimes less is more, especially when describing things in novels. The characters are well developed but a bit over the top at the start. While this makes sense later on it was almost enough to set the book aside. I would give an extra half star for the imaginative and intelligently written plot and a whole extra star once the overdone-ness is polished to a more finished work.

Review from Jenn at Book Reviews & Giveaways


Review from Merissa at Archaeolibrarian


The Mussorgsky Riddle is a tale like nothing I have ever read and if had not had to be a responsible adult (and work), I could have easily let it take me away in one sitting. I highly recommend it to those who have the ability to let their imaginations and curiosity take them to new heights (and depths).

Pre-Pre-Review from Candice at We Geek Girls

Pre-Review from Candice at We Geek Girls

Review from Candice at We Geek Girls


The Mussorgsky Riddle is clever and inventive with cheeky name references of characters related to not only their ability, Mira is very close to the Spanish verb for ‘to see’, as well as last names of Wagner and Holst just to name a few. When we get inside Anthony’s mind, all the characters take on names reflective of their particular piece of art. Kennedy does a wonderful job bringing in all five senses into the prose. In addition to Mira being a psychic and empathetic, she also smells emotions except for when she’s inside Anthony’s head. I loved how it married music and art with the modern world creating a magical realism quality. All the characters are fleshed out and I appreciate how gray the characters are. The flow of the story is excellent with tight, emotional storytelling.

This is a book that even if you don’t read a lot of fantasy or haven’t considered heading fantasy, it is a book you can appreciate. For those of us who do enjoy fantasy, this book, while set in modern times, will satisfy.

Review from DH Hanni at The Scribbling Scrivener


The book is very well written with good flow, which was especially important with the two vastly different settings. Darin Kennedy’s medical knowledge is obvious from the scenes in a medical setting and the times when a character has a mishap which requires attention. Mira and her psychic skills are an interesting juxtaposition on a modern world. It will be interesting to see if her continued success will impact her larger world.

The story is structured like a mystery; with one of the places Mira gets clues being Anthony’s mind, the settings and characters in the scenes of the fantasy adventure in Anthony’s head give clues to Mira. All the characters in both the real world and in Anthony’s fantasy adventure are well developed, although the fantasy adventure ones really are meant to all add up to being the reader’s picture of Anthony’s character since in the real world he rarely moves and doesn’t communicate.

This is an exceptional first novel, well written, well plotted, with a very imaginative main character and background. The dream-like scenes in Anthony’s mind remind you of the dark fairy-tales and myths upon which they are based. Perhaps we’ll get further adventures of Mira and get to see her relationship with Thomas grow. Plus the love/hate relationship with the police detective could also prove interesting. This is a good read for both mystery lovers and fantasy readers as long as they don’t mind a little mixed genre.

Review from Angela at The Exploding Spaceship via Bull Spec


I must admit, I was very curious to see how the author could write a story set around classical music in this way. I didn’t know what to expect and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to relate to the music side of the story. I was hooked almost immediately, I didn’t want it to finish. It was unique, imaginative, enchanting and very clever. It was also educational. I found myself looking up the music, the paintings and the myths and lore from the story.

Everything about The Mussorgsky Riddle was so well done. The plot, the characters, the pacing and the dialogue, was perfect. The story is imaginative and written in a way that is so vivid, gripping and colourful, the world and characters just explode out of the pages. I really couldn’t find anything negative about it at all. The only thing that I would add, would be a playlist of the musical sections that each chapter is set around, but that’s asking a bit much.

I really hope to see more of Mira in future, I would love to read more of her story.

Highly recommended!

Review from Scarlet at Scarlet’s Web


Kennedy’s writing reveals such a depth of musical knowledge and love for Mussorgsky’s work that a reader unfamiliar with Pictures can vividly imagine the melodies and themes of the various movements and conjure images of Hartmann’s paintings that accompany the music.

Review from Sonja at Dilworth Quarterly, March 2015 Issue


It was definitely a unique read. I don’t think I’ve read anything like it before. At the first level it is kind of a mystery, but the use of the music and all the fantasies that arose from it were truly different from the usual book. It was a very interesting read. I don’t want to say too much to prevent spoilers, but I would recommend it.

Review from Marjolein at URL PhantomHive


This is the most imaginative novel I think I have ever read. Part psychological thriller, part fantasy quest… I couldn’t put this book down until the very end. I hope Darin is working on another novel as I enjoyed this well-spun lyrical tale, and I would love to read more books by this talented author.

Review from Author, Karen McMillan from New Zealand


Filled with the looming horror, comedy, hope, gritty images, and soaring possibilities of its inspiration, Kennedy has created a novel that encompasses several genres without sacrificing the depth of any.

Review from Author, David J. Higgins from England


I loved this book. When I first read the blurb, I was intrigued at the difference between Kennedy’s psychic and every other psychic character. Mira may have psychic powers but there is no “I have a vision!” type scenes. Every time she has to tell someone about what she has seen inside Anthony’s mind, it is almost always prefaced with “Remember, I saw this in a kid’s mind so no one is going to believe it.” She is a breath of fresh air in the paranormal world.

Another big plus was the inclusion of Modest Mussorgsky’s classical music. Mussorgsky was a Russian classical composer in the mid- to late-1800s. All of the scenes in Anthony’s mind revolve around his Pictures at an Exhibition piano suite. There are 10 movements in the piece and each corresponds with a painting in Anthony’s mind. It was a clever way to give some depth and realness to the world inside someone’s head. The best part is that the whole thing came together beautifully. It never felt forced or fake.

Riddle never jams the paranormal stuff down your throat. I’m pretty sure that everyone, even if you don’t like paranormal or science fiction type books, will enjoy reading this. It’s just a good crime novel. And if the other titles at Curiosity Quills are anything like this, I may have to figure out how to get more hours in a day so I can read them all.

Review from Author, Cassandra Morgan from her Book Review Blog


I’ll admit I’ve never heard of the Russian composer Mussorgsky until I read this book. In doing a little research, I learned it was only ever a musical composition. It was never turned into a play or anything along those lines. However, as I listened to it, I could only see the images Mr. Kennedy had created in his book. The scenes were incredibly clear and so well written, I could easily pair them with the different movements of the music.

Mira is a wonderful character. Obviously, her psychic gift was a burden, yet she reached out and helped others as much as she can, even though it put a crimp in her own life. However, she knew she couldn’t leave Anthony as he was. He was only going to get worse. In only wanting to help the young boy, she got dragged into a missing person’s investigation, something she never wanted again.

I loved this book. It was different and unique. The entire story was held in suspense until the end, with Mira and Anthony in the center of it all. I loved the imagery and the story that went with the music, even music I’d never heard before. All in all, it was a delightful experience and I can’t wait to see what Mr. Kennedy will write next.

Review from Erin from A Drop Of Ink Reviews


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.

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

Review from Wendy from Little Bookness Lane


I very much enjoyed The Mussorgsky Riddle (henceforth TMR), Darin Kennedy’s debut novel. I enjoyed the characters and some of the dialogue too, but my favorite aspect was the construction of the Exhibition itself. This was a framework upon which the entire book rises or falls, and it quite cleverly constructed. While the structure is completely different than a Russian Matroshka doll, his creation of Anthony’s Exhibition reminds me a lot of a Matroshka in how cleverly it all fits together.

There’s a lot to like here – I like all of the allusions of Greek and Roman mythology, and all the detail about Mussorgsky’s Magnum Opus. After I finished the novel I listened to the entire piece several times both as a whole and in listening to each section individually to compare the music to the character it inspired. It’s not all roses – some of the dialogue could use fleshing out and I didn’t really care for the quickly-forgotten attempt at a love triangle, but for a debut novel it is quite riveting. I’m a sucker for unique systems of magic, and Mira’s psychic scents was a nice twist on what can be a tired cliche of the psychic investigator.

I am looking forward to Mr. Kennedy’s future works and recommend that you check out TMR if you find the premise intriguing. While you’re reading it go listen to the original piano version of ‘Pictures at an Exhibition” and when you’re done then sit down and listen to the orchestrated version by Maurice Ravel.

Review from David from


A podcast review! Check it out at the link below!

Review from Jenny from Reading Envy


And a video review as well! Check it out at the link below!

Review from Bill from Book Chat


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