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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

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…

The Brilliant Death

by Amy Rose Capetta

Overall Book Review:

The Brilliant Death is a new novel with an exciting new magical theme that will take readers by storm.  Mix part mob drama, part fantasy, and part romance and you come up with a new book that is both enjoyable to read and intriguing to follow.

Let’s start with the characters in this novel.  The cast of characters is limited to three main players, a few mid-range players, and just a very small handful of other characters.  The limited character pool helps this book quite a lot as a more extensive band of characters would become hard to follow with all the magical shape-shifting going on.  Set in a historic period, the characters seem relatively believable for the time period.  

The readability of The Brilliant Death is enhanced by usage of modern-day English.  The narrative is easy to read and flows really well.  You’ll find yourself turning page after page in quick succession and before you know it you will be at the end of the book.  It’s written in first person format, but I found that the perspectives of other characters throughout the book enhanced the settings and ongoing story.

The magic in this book is easy to follow, making it a great starter book for those wanting to enter the fantasy-magic genre.  Essentially, characters in the book, called strega, can change themselves or others into various objects, control objects with their abilities or various other unnamed powers.  The hardest piece to follow at times is which gender the two-man characters, Teodora and Cielo currently are.  They change back and forth often, and it isn’t always apparent which character is which gender.

This book is set up perfectly for a series, so I won’t be surprised if we see Teo and Cielo back in another adventure.  Overall it is a great read, intriguing, and action-packed with a flavor of romance to keep the story flowing.

Review of an Advance Reading Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Viking Books for Young Readers

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  2 religious exclamations, 5 mild obscenities, and 1 derogatory name.

Violence/Gore:  Character kills another by stabbing; many instances of person being turned into an object by magic; discussion of torture techniques (not graphic); pinches to arms and thighs; letter magically makes man deathly ill; harsh grab of elbow; man skin’s another man’s hands with graphic depiction of blood; verbal threats made while knife pointed; owl slashes open girl’s back with claws and slashes man’s neck killing him (graphic depiction); remembrance of man being burnt to death and house burned down; fist fight between men; girl uses magical powers to strangle man with a belt; woman magically smashes table; woman states she and her sister killed many men (no detail); woman kills another with shards of glass and magical powers; woman is consumed by magical flames; four verbal threats; woman commits suicide by stabbing self; woman slices arm with blade; man slashes woman’s throat; soldiers brick woman into statue; two page scene of magical powers used to burn down buildings and set a man’s clothes on fire; four-page battle where magical powers tear down a castle, threaten harm, turn objects into other objects and ultimately result in death of woman.

Sex/Nudity:  Imagined foreplay and caresses; multiple kisses between same sex, changing sex, and opposite sex couples; person stands naked with no detail 6 times; hand on another’s unclothed hips; woman discovers penis when she changes gender for first time; man grabs crotch and makes lewd comment; thoughts about girl’s breasts; two kisses to the hand; multiple references to sex; 2 instances of sex implied; 2 page sex scene between changing sex couple; kiss while man is naked between changing sex couple; man caresses woman’s breasts and body.

Mature Subject Matter:

Infidelity, suicide, death of family members and friends, murder, ethics, war, sexuality, homosexuality, sex.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults drink alcohol.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I am a full-time mom, full-time wife, and overtime reader. I have been an avid reader for as long as anyone can remember. It must run in the family because both my mother and grandmother are also voracious readers and often pass books back and forth. Almost any genre can spark my interest, but I often go in streaks, reading a bunch of books from one genre, then switching to another for a while and back again.