The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta | Book Review


book #1 in the Brilliant Death series

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was a great, easy read.

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Author: Amy Rose Capetta
Published: October 2018
Publisher: Viking
Pages: 352 (hardback)

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this enjoyable and easy-to-follow story with the added bonus of two gender fluid characters.

When you say fantasy + Mafia Italy inspired world, I’m there. This was by no means an overly complicated or mind-blowing read, but it delivered well on what it promised.

I found Teo to be an interesting character whose exploration into her gender identity and her role in life (and within her family) was interesting to follow.

I liked the addition of Cielo who brought a bit of romantic tension and mentorship. Though I did find the balance between the two of them shifted with Cielo rapidly holding less authority/importance as Teo’s role rose in prominence. I found Cielo less mature at the end than I did at the start.

I do also think that Teo’s character arc, while a great one, really stretched out at the end in a bad way. There’s a revelation on the final page that I think might’ve been better, and more realistically, placed a little bit earlier on.

There was an interesting relationship with Teo’s father explored, as well. This wasn’t the smoothest of character developments – with him painted as quite cruel to start with and then (almost jarringly) portrayed as a more loving figure. But then again, I think this slight confusion over the father actually reflected Teo’s own inner confusion in light of her gender fluidity and role really well. It definitely captured the idea of simultaneously loving and hating someone.

This was good! I’m keen to read book two and recommend this as a light and easy fantasy.

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Title: The Brilliant Death
Series title: The Brilliant Death
Author: Amy Rose Capetta
Purchase: Angus & Robertson
Add it on Goodreads

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.

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