From the publisher, “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.”
Despite having familiar plot elements – coming into magic, political maneuvering, violence that becomes commonplace, and sacrifices for love – The Brilliant Death is unique. The way the author has combined all the elements is very well done. Gender fluidity isn’t anything new in scifi/fantasy and can sometimes detract. Not here, Teo and Cielo change gender often and it adds to the story. For readers who like a bit of violence, that box is checked too. Teo’s oldest brother caught in the act of skinning his brother alive, is just one example. The writing is chock full of figurative language, almost too much, but it is used to enhance the story and not drag it down. I enjoyed it and eagerly await the sequel.
eGalley review Publication date 10.30.18