BOOKS
The Brilliant Death
352p. Viking. Oct. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780451478443.
COPY ISBN
RedReviewStarGr 9 Up—Everyone in Vinalia knows that magic and the "streghe" who use it only exist in stories. No one knows that Teodora di Sangro is a "strega" who can change people into objects. For Teo and her siblings, family has always been fate, forcing them into roles they may not want. Teo is proud to belong to one of the Five Families. But she also knows that as a girl she will never truly have a place at the table. Desperate for her father's approval, Teo takes it upon herself to address any threats to the family. Instead of killing their enemies, Teo uses her secret magic to transform them into objects. When the Capo's latest bid for power leaves Teo's father poisoned and the heads of the other families dead, Teo knows she is the only one who can answer the Capo's summons to the capital and find an antidote. But first she will have to transform herself to look the part of a di Sangro heir by becoming a boy. Unable to learn this new magic alone, Teo enters into a bargain with Cielo, a mysterious strega who can easily switch between male and female forms. Teo's transformation and her journey bring her into the center of Vinalia's sinister politics as she tries to save her family. Vibrant imagery and vivid language imbue this fantasy with wonder and intrigue in a world inspired by Italian folklore. Teo explores her gender identity and what it means to be a girl (or not) in her world alongside her sexy genderfluid magic tutor Cielo, whose dry wit and charm only increases the chemistry between them.
VERDICT A highly original magic system and a protagonist who is as ruthless as she is fiery make for a fast-paced adventure. Fans will be eager for the conclusion of this duology.

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