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The brilliant death
2018
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Summary
Teodora di Sangro is used to hiding her magical ability to transform enemies into music boxes and mirrors. Nobody knows she's a strega--and she aims to keep it that way.<br> <br> The she meets Cielo--and everything changes.<br> <br> A strega who can switch outward form as effortlessly as turning a page in a book, Cielo shows Teodora what her life could be like if she masters the power she's been keeping secret. And not a moment too soon: the ruler of Vinalia has poisoned the patriarchs of the country's five controlling families, including Teodora's father, and demands that each family send a son to the palace.<br> <br> If she wants to save her family, Teodora must travel to the capital--not disguised as a boy, but transformed into one. But the road to the capital, and to bridling her powers, is full of enemies and complications, including the one she least expects: falling in love.
Trade Reviews

  School Library Journal Review

Gr 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.-Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

Teodora understands what it takes to protect her family. Powerful people have powerful enemies, and she will do anything to keep her family safe, even using her strega magic to transform those enemies into decorative objects. Even keeping that magic a secret from everyone, including her dearest siblings. But when the ruler of Vinalia poisons Teodora's father, along with the heads of the other four most powerful families, and demands that each family sends a son to the capital, Teodora uses her magic to take her brother's place as her family's representative. On her journey, she meets Cielo, another strega capable of transformative magic. Cielo can become man or woman, human or animal and as the two grow closer, they learn more about the depths of their powers, the secrets of their country, and the truth of their feelings for each other. This first in a duology is a luminously imagined, Italian-inspired fantasy that thoughtfully speaks to ideas of gender perception and identity. A rich world, with much left to be explored in the next volume.--Maggie Reagan Copyright 2018 Booklist
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