My Rating ~ Five stars
RELEASE DATE: 30 October 2018
For Teodora DiSangro, a mafia don’s daughter, family is fate.
All her life, Teodora has hidden the fact that she secretly turns her family’s enemies into music boxes, mirrors, and other decorative objects. After all, everyone in Vinalia knows that stregas—wielders of magic—are figures out of fairytales. Nobody believes they’re real.
Then the Capo, the land’s new ruler, sends poisoned letters to the heads of the Five Families that have long controlled Vinalia. Four lie dead and Teo’s beloved father is gravely ill. To save him, Teo must travel to the capital as a DiSangro son—not merely disguised as a boy, but transformed into one.
Enter Cielo, a strega who can switch back and forth between male and female as effortlessly as turning a page in a book. Teo and Cielo journey together to the capital, and Teo struggles to master her powers and to keep her growing feelings for Cielo locked in her heart. As she falls in love with witty, irascible Cielo, Teo realizes how much of life she’s missed by hiding her true nature. But she can’t forget her mission, and the closer they get to the palace, the more sinister secrets they uncover about what’s really going on in their beloved country—and the more determined Teo becomes to save her family at any cost.
Ohhhh I loved this book! This was everything I love a YA fantasy to be – journeys, family ties, magic, scheming, it had it all. I loved the main characters, Teo and Cielo. They were both multifaceted and their gender fluidness seemed well represented and such a natural part of the story.
No-one knows Teo is a Strega (person able to do magic) and she disposes of her mafia style family’s enemies, by turning them into household objects (I am SO THERE for this magic. I don’t really have any enemies, but I immediately started thinking of all the things I’d want to turn them in to, so I will BE READY if I get any some day). When an attempt is made on her father’s life, and he falls gravely ill, she accompanies her brother to the capital, where they have been summoned. She desperately wishes she could go alone and represent her family, but knows there’s no way they would allow her in as a woman. When she meets Cielo, another Strega, her dream suddenly seems like it might not be so impossible.
I loved the way that the Stregas had different types of magic that could do different things – like baking memories into food, changing objects, changing themselves etc. I felt like although The Brilliant Death was a clear fantasy book, there was enough ‘reality’ in the families and the world that I wasn’t lost (as I often am when fantasy worlds are steeped in a million different made up words for places and things that I can never remember). The romance between Teo and Cielo was so sweet and I loved watching it develop.
I’ve seen some mixed ratings for this book, but I honestly couldn’t fault it. I just enjoyed it so much. I can’t wait for book 2, I really need to know what happens next!
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