Pure Dead Magic

Pure Dead Magic

4.4 12
by Debi Gliori

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Things are not right at the Strega-Borgia castle. Signor Luciano Strega-Borgia has been kidnapped. Signora Baci Strega-Borgia is struggling with her spells at the Advanced Witchcraft Institute.Titus and Pandora don’t like their suspiciously cheerful and fearless new nanny. Baby Damp has been accidentally shrunk, e-mailed, and lost on the World Wide Web. And to top it…  See more details below


Things are not right at the Strega-Borgia castle. Signor Luciano Strega-Borgia has been kidnapped. Signora Baci Strega-Borgia is struggling with her spells at the Advanced Witchcraft Institute.Titus and Pandora don’t like their suspiciously cheerful and fearless new nanny. Baby Damp has been accidentally shrunk, e-mailed, and lost on the World Wide Web. And to top it off, there’s a gangster in a bunny suit lurking about. . . .

This seriously over-the-top, gothic romp is sure to have readers clamoring for the next Strega-Borgia adventure.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Gliori's debut novel follows events after a 10-year-old waves her mother's magic wand and loses her baby sister in the modem, merging traditional fantasy with high technology," PW said. Ages 10-up. (Aug.)
Children's Literature
Titus, Pandora and Damp miss their father Signor Luciano Strega-Borgia terribly. He left StregaSchloss and hasn't been seen since. Little does the family know he is being held captive by his evil brother Don Lucifer. On top of that, their mother Signora Strega-Borgia, a witch in training, insists on hiring a new nanny, something the children dread very much. Enter Mrs. McLachlan. Unknown to the children, she will be instrumental in straightening out their lives and bringing the Strega-Borgia family together. Debi Gliori has created a fun magical story along the lines of the Adamms Family. The Strega-Borgias, along with their mystical pets Tock, Ffup, Sab and Knot, are entertaining and full of character, brought to life through Ms. Gliori's use of detail. The small chapter format of the book allows even the reluctant or slower reader to enjoy this supernatural story while not being overwhelmed by long chapters and complicated themes. 2001, Alfred A. Knopf, $15.95. Ages 10 to 18. Reviewer: John D. Orsborn
Three witch siblings grudgingly accept their new allegedly nonmagical nanny—she earns some points right away by being one of the few applicants not to be eaten by their pet/guardian crocodile. Pandora, Titus, and Damp need a nanny while their mom continues witch-study and their father remains missing after a marital spat. Father has not run off, however. He has been kidnapped by his half brother, Don di S'Embowelli Borgia, who is also an evil Mafia boss. With the help of the nanny, who is forced to use her secret nifty little Palm Pilot wand;the other pet/guardians, which include a yeti, a dragon, a griffin, and an enormous spider;and some hackerlike computer skill, their father is eventually rescued. Threads of Mary Poppins, The Addams Family, Harry Potter, The Godfather, and cyberpunk combine in this highly original and often humorous story. Too many balls in the air, however, take away from the story's overall effectiveness. Readers of Snicket's Unfortunate Events series are the best target audience for this uneven tale of sibling rivalry, familial woe, magic, and technology. Converted fans of this new author will look forward to her next book and might hope for a more streamlined story. PLB $17.99. VOYA CODES:2Q 4P M J (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q;Broad general YA appeal;Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8;Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, Knopf, 182p, $15.95. Ages 11 to 15. Reviewer:Elaine McGuire—VOYA, December 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 5)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Ever since Signor Luciano Strega-Borgia disappeared three weeks ago, kidnapped (unbeknownst to his family) by his evil inheritance-seeking half brother, the household has coped as best as it can. Signora Strega-Borgia decides to brush up on her magic at the Institute of Advanced Spelling, leaving Titus, Pandora, and Damp to the sensible ministrations of their new nanny, Mrs. McLachlan. Through a combination of misused magic, sibling rivalry, and an interesting interpretation of computer technology, baby Damp gets lost in the Internet and must be rescued by the household spider, who is a natural Web expert. Filled to bursting with an eccentric cast of characters, this extravagant tale combines magic, mafiaesque villainy, mythical beasts, foible-filled humans, and humor into a mixture that will appeal to fans of Diana Wynne Jones, J. K. Rowling, and even Lemony Snicket. There is a little too much going on, there are some characters with too little to do, and some elements go over the top-several stereotypical bad guys expire in gruesome and ludicrous ways, for instance-but the outrageous, tongue-in-cheek tone makes up for any plot deficiencies. Speechless baby Damp and Tarantella, the lipstick-wearing spider, whose trip through the Internet is short but enthralling, are particularly intriguing characters. Readers who want more of this clamoring clan will be happy to know that this is the first of a trilogy. Pure dead fun.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Mary Poppins meets the Addams Family in a nonstop farce that spins readers and characters through cyberspace, from a cluttered mansion in the Scottish highlands to an elegant Italian palazzo. Three weeks earlier, paterfamilias Luciano Strega-Borgia had stormed out of StregaSchloss in a snit and mysteriously vanished. Now, with witch graduate school about to open, his grieving wife Baci is desperately in need of a nanny unfazed by the crocodile in the moat, the dragon, yeti, and griffin in the cellar, and a trio of strong-minded children ages 1, 10, and 12. Enter motherly Flora McLachlan, a cool-headed retired witch with an unusually useful Palm Pilot. There's one crisis solved-but the plot thickens: Luciano wakes up in Italy, kidnapped by evil half-brother Don Lucifer di S'Embowelli Borgia, and, shortly before the arrival at StregaSchloss of an ill-fated squad of hitmen (one in a bunny suit) hired by Don Lucifer, young Titus and Pandora Strega-Borgia inadvertently e-mail baby Damp through Luciano's PC. This debut fiction from Gliori (Polar Bolero, p. 497, etc.) is also the first of a projected trilogy, though it stands sturdily on its own. She fills it with incident, as well as magical transformations, nauseating messes, cartoon violence, just deserts, and an array of exaggerated characters ranging from innocent to vile, quietly competent to totally clueless. Should Lemony Snicket grow a bit stale, here's the perfect antidote. (Fiction. 11-13)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Pure Dead Series
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Random House
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File size:
4 MB
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 7 The Wager

"Titus, I'm in deep poo." Pandora collapsed on her brother's bed with a small wail.
Titus didn' t respond, unless a grunt counted as an expression of brotherly concern.

"Listen up, Titus, I need your help."

"I'm busy," came the reply.

Pandora unfolded herself from the bed and came to stand by her brother. Titus muttered and tapped on a keyboard, seemingly oblivious to the presence of his sister.

"I can't tell where that stupid computer ends and you begin. Titus, if you don't stop and listen to me, I'm going to see if it likes Coke as much as you do."

Titus unglued his eyeballs from the screen and looked up. Pandora was unscrewing the cap from a vast bottle of brown fizz. He sighed.

"Ah! Eyeball contact," gloated Pandora. "Is there intelligent life on Planet Titus? Yes, there appears to be large amoebathing with an open hole in the middle of its head, but we are experiencing some difficulty in establishing communication."

Titus sighed again. "What is it?" he said.

"I've lost Multitudina."

"Big deal," said Titus, "plenty more rats where she came from."

Pandora glared at her brother. "And all her babies, Titus-all thirteen of them."

"They'll turn up," said Titus philosophically. "Floating in the

soup, down the toilet, hot-wired to the back of the fridge . . ."

"Titus. I shut them in here. Before breakfast. And when I came back upstairs with their bacon rinds, they were gone."

"What did you do with the bacon rinds?" asked Titus irrelevantly.

"Damp probably ate them. But that's not the point, the

point is-"
"The point is, " said Titus, -that this is my bedroom, and you introduced fourteen free-range rats several bits of dead pig, and one incontinent baby into my space. Without my permission. That's the point."

"Your Highness. Accept my humble apologies. Entering your Royal Bedchamber without permission is a crime punishable by death, but, sire, I can account for said bits of bacon and smelly baby-one is inside the other, and both are in the nursery-but where are Multitudina and her tribe?"

"You're toast, Pandora," said Titus. "Mum'll be back tonight

and when she finds out

"Titus. . . " groaned Pandora. "Please.

"I don't like rats, remember? Frankly, I'm delighted that your disgusting rodent's done a runner."
"She's not disgusting."

"She's a foul-mouthed, yellow-fanged, smelly bit of vermin that's probably into cannibalism."

"She did not eat her babies, Titus. You've got to help me find them."

"If you're so brilliant, you find them."

"Bet I can," said Pandora.

"Bet you can't."

"How much?"

"A game of Monopoly?" said Titus with faint hope.

"NEVER," yelled Pandora. "Frankly, I'd rather swim a lap across the moat than play with you."

" Big words, big deal, Pandora. You're all talk and no action. Inside you're just a fluff-brained girl. You'd never dare."

Livid with rage, Pandora forgot to engage her brain before opening her mouth. "I bet I CAN find them," she shrieked. "AND I WOULD, TOO, DARE! AND I'M NOT JUST TALKING!"

"No," agreed Titus, "you're shouting. And your eyes have gone all funny."

"I'm not SHOUTING," Pandora insisted. "I'll find the rat babies or I'll swim the moat. Done. Satisfied?"

"You're kidding," gasped Titus. "You can hardly swim, let alone fight off crocodiles."

"You're the one who needs water wings and an inner tube, Titus." Her voice wobbled dangerously "And when I say done, I mean it."

Despite her bluster, reality was dawning. What on earth was she doing, agreeing to swim across the moat? Tock was starving.

Ravenous. Hadn't eaten a nanny for at least two weeks. "I mean it, Titus, but-"

"Ah! I knew there would be a but. No, you can't wear a suit of armor to swim in. Tock hates tinned food and, no, you may not feed Tock an elephant before you begin."

"You seem awfully confident that I won't find Multitudina's ratettes."

"You could say that," Titus said smugly "But before you ask, I haven't touched them, harmed them, or even seen the ghastly beasts since last night. Now ... but what?"

"But ... I need a week to find them."

"Three days."

"Five days, then. Come on, Titus, play fair."

"In five days, that disgusting rat slob could produce another litter."

"Give me five days to find the missing babies, and if I don't, I'll swim the moat," said Pandora, crossing her fingers tightly

"Deal," said Titus.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Pure Dead Magic 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The beggining is very slow so i wasnt hooked right away but it is seriuosly cute and funny.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Debi Gliori's novel Pure Dead Magic first caught my attention as a library page for two simple reasons: the unique title and the rather enticing plaid background of the cover (which also features a neat illustration by Glin Dibley). Before embarking on Pure Dead Magic, a work of longer fiction, Gliori had written and illustrated picture books for children. I have seen this book, the first in a trilogy, shelved both with children's and young adult books. I'm more inclined to call it a children's book although I also have no problem imagining teens who would enjoy it. That said, let's talk about what happens between the covers of this book. Twelve-year-old Titus Strega-Borgia and his ten-year-old sister Pandora do not live in what most people would term a normal household. Things are strange at StregaSchloss, the family's house near the Scottish Highlands, even before their father Luciano mysteriously disappears. Dealing with an unwieldy household while completing her degree in advanced witchcraft, Baci Strega-Borgia is overextended. Enter Mrs. Flora McLachlan who tries to bring some order to the household along with fries that are crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, and the occasional lullaby for Damp, the youngest of the Strega-Borgia children. But order doesn't reign for very long at StregaSchloss before things get out of hand. Thirteen baby rats go missing, followed soon after by Damp. Then the gangster in the rabbit suit shows up and everything gets even messier. If any of the plot brought to mind the Addams family, it's not a coincidence. I have no proof for this, but feel strongly that the Strega-Borgia's might be distant cousins of Morticia and Gomez. Gliori pulls off a blend of humor and the macabre, with the odd man-eating monster thrown in, admirably and much in the style so common to the Addams family movie. Needless to say this novel does require a willing suspension of disbelief, but once you get into the story it's really fun. Gliori's prose is straightforward and broken up into manageable chapters (usually four or so pages at a time) which make it a good pick for a reluctant reader who might not want to read a long chapter in one sitting. The characters are also excellent. In addition to the family and staff, several mythical beasts and one hungry crocodile also add a lot of dimension to the book. Pure Dead Magic is one of those books that, if you can tolerate some fantastical elements, has something for everyone: a variety of characters, excitement, suspense, and humor. A well-rounded book for anyone looking for a story that will leave them smiling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
Chaotic is one word to really describe this book. Although it was fun to read what they all go through I think this book would have made a very interesting movie (should it ever go that way). Think of The Addams Family and their kookiness, mixed with a bit of style of Lemony Snicket and add in a bit of Mary Poppins and you get Pure Dead Magic. I enjoyed reading this book! it was a fun light read and there were particular parts of the book that actually got me laughing out loud. It is quirky and kooky and you could say even rather strange at first to read but once you get engaged into the storyline then the reading experience is quite fun. The plot was certainly engaging, and by reading the first page it actually takes you into the book head first so be prepared. I liked it, yet on the other hand, I found it a little too engaging. It just seems like there's just way too much going on and you have a hard time figuring out what's happening, and it also feels like you need to take a real big deep breath right after each chapter. Sometimes it helps if there's a small part in the book where everything just take a breather, and the action takes a break while we as readers sort things out with the storyline. The characters are likable and fun, no need for development, or any heavy duty stuff here. Like mentioned before, it's a light read to take a break from the heavy duty ones. Overall, a fast, light read, with a lot of room left at the end for several more books ahead. I'll be picking them up whenever I need the urge to laugh or when I need to take a break from the heavier deeper books. Sometimes it's good to read childrens novels just to take a break from the serious books and to enjoy the quirky kooky funny ones as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very interesting and exciting to read. The more I got into the story the more I didn't want to put it down. Every single page was something fun. I would highly recommend this book to any kids who like humorous and magical books blended into one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Pure Dead Magic is a fantasy book that is set in the future. The story also has magic, mystical creatures such as griffins and dragons, and high tech devices such as cryogenic chambers. The two main characters are kids named Titus and Pandora who are try to find their long lost father. They live in a place called Strega-Scloss. They will have to find their father by themselves because their mother is preoccupied with advanced witchcraft lessons. Their infant sister named Damp was accidentally shrunk and lost on the worldwide web. Their father is kidnapped by his evil step-brother and now he is trapped in a burning house about to turn into a crisp. The step-brother also hired a group of gangsters to kill everyone in Strega-Scloss. How will Titus and Pandora save themselves and their father? My favorite part of Pure Dead Magic was when the dragon named Ffup released his Digestive overload on a gangster. It was gross, funny and it helped annihilate the gangster threat attacking Strega-Scloss. Overall I thought the book was average. I did not like Pure Dead Magic because it was confusing to read. The story was going back and forth from Strega-Scloss to the burning house the father is in. I also thought that most of the characters names were hard to pronounce and to remember. I liked the story because it combined science, technology, and mystical creatures. The author was very descriptive and had a unique writing style.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I was at Barnes and Nobles, I happened to come across this book on one of the shelves. The cover picture caught my eye and as I picked it up, I noticed the little praises on the side. One of them said 'J.K. Rowling meets Lemony Snicket in a hight-tech setting,' Since it listed my two FAVORITE authors (Now Debi Gliori is added to the list)I just had to read it. The back summary also caught my interest, so needlest to say, I had to buy it. When I read it, the story was even better than I had expected. It was very funny and I loved how magic was used in a present setting; I felt it gave the book a more modern edge that I like in books (Nothing old at all!). I thought the characters were very realistic and funny and I loved how their whole future depending on one nanny. With the added bonus of talking mythical beasts, who wouldn't want to read this book??
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about 3 siblings whose father stormed out of the house in anger, and got kidnapped by his greedy half-brother. The family doesnt know hes kidnapped, and the mother(who is going to magic school) hires a nanny whose actually has magical powers. As if this is any better, the baby sister Damp gets emailed(coincedentally to her dad). You should read this book to find wat happens afterwards. This is a really nice story becoz i like adventure.. and magic. Its a mix of Lemony Snicket, and Harry Potter. And i like both of thoz books. Dis book is da bomb!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Pure Dead Magic was a really great book. It's like taking Harry Potter,Lemony Snicket, and T*Witches all in one! One of my friends told me about this book even though I bought it first. It probably wasn't the best book I've ever read,but it was definately worth the money 2 get my copy f this book. This book is about your average family, except they know magic. There is a mom,dad,4 pets (but very abnormal pets), a brother and sister and another infant named Damp. Somehow I feel that Damp is the main character,although she isn't. But the father got very mad at his family and stormed out of the house,only to be put in prison! Then Pandora (the daughter) wants to shrink her brother but ends up shrinking Damp instead. Then Pandora sneezes and poor baby Damp is in an email! Some parts were a little gros,but this was good. You'll have 2 get the bok 2 find out what happens next!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It was funny and the character's were easy to like. The idea's were very creative and original. This isn't usually the type of book I read but I'm very glad I did. It had me laughing from start to finish with Titus and Pandora's original outlooks and mistakes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The weird Strega-Borgia family lives in their large (and very strange) home, known as StregaSchloss, in the Scottish Highlands. There's Titus, who's twelve and is obsessed with computers, his ten-year-old sister Pandora, who has a pet rat, and their baby sister Damp, who is... well, a baby. And of course their parents: their mom, a witch-in-training, and their father, currently in the captivity of his evil half-brother, as well as the cook (who actually can't cook for her life), the butler, and the nanny. Not to mention the various beasts and creatures that also make their home at StregaSchloss. Of course, the REAL trouble starts when Pandora dabbles in magic, shrinks Damp, and sends her over the Internet. This unusual, hilarious, and VERY WEIRD book is great for readers who like humorous fantasy books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Take a large Caldrin. Put in Harry Potter, A series of unfortunate Events, Fokelore, Laughs, And the Mafia and stir! Now you Have Pure Dead Magic. A book that keeps you Laughing and grimaceing at every turn!