The Brilliant Death

8 CDs. 9:45 hrs. Listening Library. Oct. 2018. ISBN 9780525638292. $60. digital download.
Gr 9 UP—Teodora "Teo" di Sangro is a young woman whose magical power is only increasing as she moves from her initial crude attempts to enforce her father's control of their fiefdom. Her family loyalty is tested when her father is poisoned by the Capo, a new ruler who is attempting to consolidate the country of Vinalia by ruthlessly assassinating the heads of the five families who rule it. In a country that hunts and eliminates the magic-wielding strega, Teo has little hope of developing her skill until she encounters Cielo, a powerful strega. Under Cielo's tutelage, Teo is able to become male, and using his dead brother's name, present himself to the Capo as the di Sangro heir. Teo uncovers the Capo's plot to unite the kingdom using nefarious means. Capetta takes every opportunity to explore power, gender identity, and sexuality in this Italian-inspired fantasy. Narrator Carlotta Brentan brings Capetta's characters vividly to life.
VERDICT This will find an audience with fans of Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller or Ship of Smoke and Steel by Django Wexler.

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