This story is about the backstory of Drosselmayer, the eye-patched godfather who gives Clara the nutcracker at the beginning of the story. The novel begins near the end of the Napoleonic wars, but young Dirk is raised in isolation by a woodcutter and his wife until an incident propels him into the wider world. The wider world propels him to go from place to place until the book ends.
Very little happens in the novel. Its not unusual that Dirk keeps many thoughts to himself - in fact some of the most fantastical elements of the story he completely forgets about for years - but the introverted child/young man doesn't often include the reader either, which is unusual. Instead we have narration of events happening, time passing, and just about when the story starts to get going, our guy has a purpose, we're winding up for the finish. Was there a solution? Who can say?
I missed something. I know I did. If I didn't miss something, some important psychological depth or metaphor or whatever, then there is nothing here. I finished it, which is something. The story is inoffensive. Hiddensee works history and myth and the Nutcracker story together to little purpose.