The Brilliant Death

The Brilliant Death

by Amy Rose Capetta

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451478443
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 10/30/2018
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 95,291
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Amy Rose Capetta has written several novels for young adults and holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from VCFA. She first dreamed of writing about Vinalia when she was younger than Teo. Once upon a time her father’s family lived in Italy, in a small town in the mountainside. Now Amy Rose lives in her very own mountains in Vermont, with her partner and their young son. To learn more, visit amyrosecapetta.com.

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The Brilliant Death 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous 15 days ago
Set in an Italian-inspired world and following a main character who can turn people into music boxes, The Brilliant Death is an inventive and exciting new fantasy. It is delightfully queer, with a genderfluid love interest. It had a good premise and I think the book mostly executed it well. I unfortunately didn't absolutely love it though. While both the main character and the love interest were compelling themselves, I wasn't totally here for their romance. It just felt a little rushed for me personally. They fit together, but personally I couldn't connect which was a disappointment. I think that this book will find its fans though, and it's a wonderful book for anyone searching for a fantasy with #ownvoices nonbinary rep.
ThisDarkMaterial 16 days ago
Teodora is a strega, a kind of witch with the magical ability to turn humans into objects: pillows, music boxes, china plates. Ever since discovering her skill as a child, she's used this power to secretly transform the enemies of her family, one of five that exerts control over the Italian-inspired realm of Vinalia. Except: her father doesn't know, merely pleased over the timely disappearances of those that threaten his financial security or the safety of his family. Teodora enchants, by equal turns fascinated and frustrated by the unexplained magic coursing in her veins. Though girls are not afforded the same opportunities as their brothers, she has been an attentive and loving pupil of her father's, absorbing every lesson on power, control, and benevolence. Her conflicted feelings towards the darker aspects of the DiSangro family's role in Vinalia manifests in her own actions as its unknown enforcer. Justifying her transformations with the excuse that she hasn't killed anyone—never mind that she doesn't know how to turn them human again—cements Teodora's moral quandary, one that makes her engaging and sympathetic from the start. Capetta writes in an accessible yet imaginative style, often opening new chapters or sections with such frank descriptions of the odd or exceptional that you cannot help but continue reading. Drawing on the vibrant history of Italy, Vinalia is both unique and almost instantly recognizable. It's the perfect setting for magic that turns men into music boxes and girls into boys, all against the backdrop of cutthroat politics and a desperate struggle for power. The Brilliant Death glitters and shines on every page, a thrilling mix of fantasy and thriller that enchants from the first lines.
acuneo 18 days ago
Thank you to Bookish First and the publisher for providing me a copy to review. I read this book because in the Editor's Letter in the beginning and I knew that I had to read this book because Hello, who doesn't love a Miyazaki style story with a Renaissance Italian setting! I also strongly suggest to not read the synopsis as it kind of made the book sound weirder than it actually was. This book really reminded me of An Enchantment of Ravens as it was short (around 330 pages) but it felt like I was reading a much longer narrative. The prose was well written and the plot moved rather fast; there weren't any scenes that didn't contribute to the overall plot of the book. The story did end wrapped up but there is definitely room for the author to write a sequel if they chose. My favorite part of the book was the magic. In Vanalia, those with magic are called Strega, which is Italian for Witch and that makes total sense considering that the setting is Italian inspired, and they aren't loved but they aren't exactly persecuted. Teo, the MC, had magic that was almost like a whole other character. It had a temper and sometimes did what it wanted. Also, I am not going to spoil it but Teo's ability is awesome and so unique. And speaking of magic there is Cielo, Teo's meet-cute friend to lover and a totally awesome character! Cielo is a shapeshifter as long as they have their book with spells. Though I enjoyed the magic, I wish that The Brilliant Death was explained better especially since it was a key feature of the story. This book was quite queer. Cielo and Teo are both genderfluid. I really liked that Capetta wrote these characters the way that she did because I haven't heard of many books where there is one genderfluid character let alone two and in a relationship, which I totally ship by the way. The setting of Vanalia was quite interesting though I wish that Capetta went into more detail on who the Capo is. I understand that he is trying to usurp the families that rule to "unify" the land but I didn't really know who he was and I want more of a backstory on him. One thing that I didn't really get vibes of is the "Mafia-style" of the families that the synopsis promises. Yes, they were a bit ruthless but the fate of their world is at stake here so I can understand why they do what they do. The other characters besides Cielo and Teo were not the best but they were also not the worst. Teo's brother, Luca was sweet and I wish that we could have had more time with him. Then there is Teo's other brother, Beniamo was a complete terror that deserved more then he received. Overall, I definitely enjoyed this novel and I am excited to read other books that Capetta has written.
BookPrincessReviews 24 days ago
This book will easily go down as one of the most surprising and intriguing reads that I read of all 2018. I've read such few books this year that have stood out, and this book brought sexiness, magic, and moreeeeeeeeeeeee. I wasn't quite sure what I was getting when I first picked this book up. All I remembered was mafia but with magic, and like, that was enough for me? This book brought all the magic - the easy writing, the incredibly interesting and original magic system, the complex and rootable characters, and a romance that finally brought me a ship to sailllllll. The only issue I had a few times was with the writing. Don't get me wrong - Capetta is a fantastic writer and her book really is a breeze to read through. To be honest, fantasy usually trips me up a bit with the worldbuilding, but I would consider this to be "light" fantasy where we get some epic magic without have to diving deep into a brand new, wholly imagined world. However, the issue I had was sometimes I would get confused. For example, the first time our main character Teo meets, Cielo, I was really confused. Like it seemed a little odd and disjointed and I kept blinking at the page going, feeling like there was a glitch in my matrix because it wasn't computing??? It just happened a few times, but that was the only thing I really noticed with the book. Otherwise, Capetta fully immersed me in a beautiful, lush setting that I could easily see with a beautiful magic world that was easy to understand - which is all a book princess could ask for. Our main characters were great. I really vibed with Teodora. I got the decisions that were made,and I got her wants and I got her desires and I just got her. She was so easy to root for, and I loved being in her voice. Cielo was such a fascinating and great character. Cielo always felt like not just a magical character but magic itself. Cielo was enchanting and caring. I would have liked a little bit more diving in deeper with Cielo, just because I wanted to learn as much as I could. And yes, both Teodora and Cielo are genderfluid, and seeing their struggles/freedom/etc. with this was amazing. The other side characters were interesting, dynamic, and distinct as well. Plus, the romance between them was fieryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. I found some feels finalllllllllllllllly. My cold heart does pitter patter again! Can we all heave a sigh of relief that the princess of swoons found some swoons?? The plot was pretty captivating as well. There was no real moment that was just thrown in for filler. We're quickly thrown into the fire with Teodora having to run off with her brother, Luca, to find a way to cure her dying father while also dealing with a meddling and tyrant head of the five families who poisoned her father in the first place. Then add in cool magic and a mysterious witch, and you've got one story that keeps you on your toes. Overall, this was such a cool read. I loved reading it, and I was quite sad to be separated from the world once I finished. Really the only thing that tripped me up were a few confusing parts, but overall, this was a really cool world that was Mandy Verified Easy Fantasy. A good ship, good characters, and good plotlines drove the heart of this story, and you will definitely want to add to your TBRs if you want something different than the ordinary YA fantasies out there. 5 crowns and a Tiana rating!
Anonymous 25 days ago
Teodora diSangro is a strega, able to change people into objects with her specific kind of magic. Her family is one of the five powerful families living in the mountains adjacent to the city of Vinalia. Teo's father survives by eliminating his enemies, but one day he receives a letter full of poison from the Capo, the powerful ruler of Vinalia, that almost kills him. The other four family heads receive a similar letter and die from the poison. Soon Teodora must learn to use her magic with the help of another strega named Cielo so she can save her family from the Capo and others who would harm them. While falling for each other, they will both learn more about their magic and encounter the most dangerous circumstances they have ever been through as they try to save the people they love. This is such a unique book with an Italian mob flavor that is intriguing. The adventure and suspense were just the right amount for me and kept me on the edge of my seat until the end. The writing was very descriptive and the characters were so complex that I felt like I was there in the story. There is some sensual content, but nothing too graphic. On the other hand, there is quite a bit of violence, so I wouldn't recommend it for a young audience. I didn't agree with some of the views expressed in the book and the gender changes got to be a little too much for me, but overall I enjoyed the book very much. I am looking forward to reading more and I hope the author is planning a sequel. This book is easily one of the most unique books I have read this year. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy and adventure. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Bookish First program. A positive review was not required, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.
laurgrant 3 months ago
I thought that this book was pretty awesome. When I first heard about this book, I knew that I was interested in reading it. It's all about the mafia and uncovering secrets and even a budding romance set in a fantasy world. I loved the fact that there was this character named Cielo who switches back and forth between being a male and a female and I loved how they played into this story. I think that this story is a good step towards offering non-binary people representation in books, although I'd be interested in seeing an own-voices review to see how well the author executed the representation. I also just loved Cielo and how they were so sexy and cheeky and I loved how they became Teo's mentor and the interactions between them were simply amazing to read. Overall, I loved how the story blended the magical aspects with the political aspects. I thought that the author was really successful in this area. I loved Teo's journey and this book was awesome.
meigan 3 months ago
With such a unique and intriguing premise, and one that promised magic, political intrigue and so much more, I couldn’t help but be excited for The Brilliant Death. And if the above wasn’t enough to hook me, add in mafia and gender-fluid characters, all set against a backdrop of a fantasy version of 19th century Italy, and I knew this was going to be a book that worked for me. And it most certainly did. The action starts almost immediately, with Teodora DiSangro’s father rendered immobile and on the brink of death from a mysterious letter that was delivered by an equally mysterious courier. The letter reeks of magic but only Teo knows that, since she’s not just an ordinary girl, but one who’s spent her entire life hiding what she is — a strega. Magic in her country is thought of as a myth, a legend, and certainly something not *real*. But Teodora is real, as is her magic, and having anyone find out that it isn’t a fairytale is sure to bring about chaos and probable death for Teo. Her father’s condition means that someone from her household must go to the capital and see the Capo in order to establish a new head of the DiSangro household, but the problem is complicated, to say the least. The only options for a new head are Teo’s younger brother, who’s much too meek and unwilling to lead, and her older one, who lives his life thriving on inflicting pain on others including his own family. The only thing Teo wants to do is save her father, and it’s up to her (and a new and very interesting ally) to try to save her father and their family name. The Brilliant Death was such an interesting and immersive read and I really loved everything about it. The writing was lush and lyrical and a perfect companion to the equally lush and rich setting of an imagined 19th century Italy (which, take away the fantasy element, and it could have easily been an accurate representation of the real 19th century Italy.) The biggest selling point for me, though, was having a fantasy intertwined with the mafia and everything that goes along with it, including politics and power plays, and that part was definitely the highlight for me. Although running a close second was Cielo, a character who effortlessly transforms into both male and female, and Teo’s journey of figuring out her own sexual identity. The ending, however, didn’t seem very final to me and I’m hoping that The Brilliant Death is the beginning of a new trilogy or series. Im hoping to see these characters again in the future and have my questions answered, so my fingers are definitely crossed in hopes of more to come. *ARC provided by BookishFirst.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I was drawn in by Teo's transformation magic. She used it to protect her family or to seek revenge on those that had cheated her family. And then Cielo enters the story. Cielo is able to shape shift. I loved seeing a character that was comfortable in any skin they presented in. What I loved more was the romance that blossomed. I usually hate reading romance because about 90% of the books I have read lately have had unnecessary romance. This romance was an absolute requirement. Every scene they were in together just made the story better. I wish this was going to be a series because I want to know what happens after everything. What are their lives going to look like following all the grief and trials they have endured?
Mithila 3 months ago
Look, when you have assassins, mafia, and a brilliant Italian inspired locale, you have me /sold/. Paired with beautiful writing that simply flows and a diverse cast—and MAGIC—Amy Rose Capetta's THE BRILLIANT DEATH has little readers would not want. I was hooked on this story from the get-go. While some parts did feel a bit underdeveloped—I'm pretty sure that's my main complaint—the overall plot kept me engaged. And with the beautiful imagery throughout, it was always so easy to fall back into this world. I adored the characters! Teo was bad-ass and I adored her voice. She's smart, efficient, and positively deadly. Cielo was another super interesting character and I loved them! They have an interesting magic ability that was super cool to read about. Overall, I really enjoyed this book! Would definitely recommend.
StephWard 3 months ago
'The Brilliant Death' is a thrilling YA fantasy that revolves around magic and much more important topics - like being yourself, no matter who or what that might be. This is kind of a hard book for me to review because there's so much going through my mind about it. There are layers to the story, which is a big reason why I enjoyed it. On the surface, the story is about magic in a place that has turned against it. The setting seemed to reflect on Italy and a lot of the words felt Italian to me. I really liked that part of it. It was different than other fantasies where it feels like everything happens in deserts or weird places that are hard to see in your mind. This was easy to bring to life for me by the author's vivid imagery and detailed descriptions. It felt like I was right beside Teo the entire time and experienced everything alongside her. The main plot was about Teo's father being poisoned, along with the other four major families rulers in an attempt to bring about a new country that was based on unity and allegiance. Teo is a strega (a person with magical abilities) and has used her gifts to help protect her family for most of her life. I liked the way Teo describes her magic - how it speaks to her, how it feels when she uses it, and other interesting things. I found that to be utterly intriguing and I wanted to know everything I could about the strega and their different types of magic. Teo was a fantastic main character. She was fierce, determined, loyal and devoted to her family, smart, and an overall powerful woman. She has magic, but has only known how to use it in one way - to change people or things into other things - but she has to figure out a way to physically change herself into a boy in order to face the leader of the country. Enter Cielo, whose character is hard for me to describe. Mischievous, smart, good at magic, and also fierce and determined to find out what's going on with the missing streghe in the country and what happened to his mother years ago. Cielo's character is completely fluid - he/she can transform into anything including other genders, animals, and even weather. I found that magic to be fascinating and I loved learning about it. I do feel that the author put a lot of emphasis on Cielo changing back and forth between female and male. Which also made the story have a element of LGBTQ, which is fine and part of the more important layer of the novel about being who you truly are and accepting yourself for who that is. I got that message loud and clear from both Teo and Cielo, their feelings for one another and their relationship as it changed and grew - but it just felt a little forced how they kept changing genders. That's the only issue I personally had with the story - and it's only my opinion and doesn't reflect back on the writing or the author in any way. I'm sure other readers won't find an issue with this, but I wanted to note it because it did bother me a bit just because it seemed overused to prove a certain point. Overall, this was a great book and I definitely recommend it to fans of the genre as well as readers looking for diverse characters and diverse stories that stand out from the rest.
Jill-Elizabeth_dot_com 4 months ago
I won a copy of this in a contest. The concept and blurb really intrigued me, and the cover was cool and eye-catching. When I started reading it I was initially sucked in, then a little afraid it'd be too swords-and-sorcery for me - but kept reading. I'm SO glad I did! It was not what I expected - rather, it WAS what I expected from the blurb/excerpt, but not what I expected from some of the earlyish pages. It was a wholly original tale, full of gender-bending and genre-bending, and I found it captivating. Teo is a fantastic protagonist, full of aspirations and fears and a never-ending dissatisfaction with the role the world wants her to play. Cielo is a brilliant character who burns like a bonfire on a midsummer night - there's danger, sure, but also comfort and warmth if you dare to look for them... Capetta has crafted a world that is dangerous and tricksy and fascinating with its blend of magic and Machiavellianism, and I for one hope there's more to come for these characters and their world! My review copy was provided by the BookishFirst program.
Katizee 4 months ago
I won an ARC of this book via BookishFirst. Thank you to them and the publisher. I really enjoyed this book. The things I really liked were the magic system and the characters. The characters were great and the gender-bending aspect was delightful and thought-provoking. I would have liked to see a little more of the relationship between the two main characters, but maybe we’ll get that in the next book. I also loved that the book was separated into easily digestible sections. That worked wonderfully well for my “read as much as possible at bedtime before your traitorous eyes close” schedule. The things that could have been a little better were the details. I felt like I could have used more details in a few scenes because they came off as a little rushed and almost like some key element was left out. I think the world and the magic could have been explained/developed a little more and some scenes just abruptly ended without resolving the issue at all. Also, the “mafia” part of the synopsis was probably over-exaggerated as that aspect was pretty lacking. Overall, I did thoroughly enjoy this book.
WeezieL 4 months ago
Won paperback ARC from BookishFirst.com! I've put off my review, trying to wrap my head around how I feel about this book. I liked some things and didn't like some things but overall, I did enjoy it. It was very unique for one. The magic didn't make a whole lot of sense though. It wasn't developed enough. All Teodora has ever done is turn "bad men" into objects. And then has little regard for them afterwards. "Don't throw that pillow, it used to be the baker's son." WHAT?! Are they dead? Suspended in life? If they are dead, how could they ever come back to life? There's too many questions surrounding just that one aspect of magic and then there are SO. MANY. MORE aspects of the magic!! Things I can't go into because of spoilers. Like the brilliant death. If the magic is just raw power then how come Teo can't control it better? I assumed when she inherited the sister's power (can't remember her name!), her breath would also become poison. But that's not how the magic works. Teo's own magic just becomes more powerful and also more chaotic. Magic usually has rules but not in this book/world. It's more raw power than how we usually see magic and it's more uncontrollable and more of its own entity. In my head, I kept thinking of Teo as transgender but she's not. She's gender fluid, as is Cielo, another strega she meets. Together they are a WHIRLWIND of the sexes! Hell, if I had magic I would also go back and forth between genders! Just for the experiences! Because it would be easy! But I feel like when you make it because you have access to magic that you switch genders, it's less authentic than if this were set in a modern magic-less world where you truly feel you are. Halfway through I wasn't crazy about the book but once I finished it, I really liked it. And then had to figure out how to express my feelings towards it! I look forward to the sequel and more of Teo and Cielo's relationship.
onemused 4 months ago
"The Brilliant Death" was a fascinating story of magic and love. Teodora (Teo) has long had a secret- she is a strega, which means that she has magic, and it allows her to change people into objects. She is a second daughter of one of the 5 families. As such, she has more power than most women but still less power than men. However, her education and upbringing has been very different- her father has allowed her to sit in on his lessons. The family controls an area with a mafia-like structure, and his lessons have taught her thinks most of would balk at. Teo's life is about to change forever. She meets another strega in the woods, fascinating since she thought she might be the only one. This strega is carrying a letter from the Capo, a new ruler seeking to unite the lands controlled by the 5 families. The letter immediately poisons and almost kills her father. It also demands that the new head of the family come to the capital for a meeting. As Teo journeys to the capital, she is joined by the strega who carried the letter- Cielo, who can change him/herself into anything (s)he wishes- boy, girl, cloud, bird, mouse, etc. Cielo teaches Teo about magic, but Cielo is on a quest of his/her own- to find out what happened to his/her mother. Together, they seek the antidote to the poison killing Teo's father and answers about what happened to Cielo's mother and the other missing streghe. The journey is perilous and fraught with mystery- I was completely captured by the story. This was a tough book to put down, and I absolutely had to know what was going on. There were so many twists and turns that this was a suspenseful and highly engaging read. I absolutely loved the main characters of Teo and Cielo, as well as the magic. There were a lot of great secondary characters as well that I would be interested in seeing developed more in the future. The magic was also an interesting touch, with new rules and ideas that I had not seen before. This was a fantastic and unique read, and I highly recommend it for YA fantasy lovers- you won't want to miss this one! Please note that I received an ARC through bookish first. All opinions are my own.
Angie0184 4 months ago
The Brilliant Death is Brilliantly Beautiful. A masterpiece of magic, gender fluidity, mafia style family takeovers, and wonderfully complex characters, it's a perfectly imaginative love story. The book touches on topics of misogyny and the protagonist's struggle to find her place within the structure of her family, especially with the death of one beloved brother, and the insanity and instability of another. Teodora strikes out on a literal and a metaphorical journey with Cielo to save both her home and her family, and to find out who she really is and what her magic can do for her. If this first book is anything to go by, I can only hope this isn't the last we've heard of Teodora di Sangro.
ReadingCornerforAll 4 months ago
The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta has to be one of my favorite reads of the year. I loved how she created a powerful individual through Teodora DiSangro and her unique personality really strikes a chord with readers. Capetta referenced her Italian-inspired influences into a highly colorful narrative which blended into the story so seamlessly. I also wanted to commend Capetta for creating Cielo. Capetta found a very natural way to be inclusive of a gender fluid individual and, even more so, took on a powerful stance on gender definitions. It's refreshing when authors break gender barriers by equipping themselves with the great faculty of storytelling. Altogether I found this is a book that takes fantasy to a higher level.