Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Pure Dead Magic (Pure Dead #1)” as Want to Read:
Pure Dead Magic (Pure Dead #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Pure Dead Magic (Pure Dead #1)

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  1,436 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
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, ...more
Paperback, 182 pages
Published August 27th 2002 by Yearling Books (first published 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 13, 2008 Dorcas rated it liked it
This book was an unexpected mix of cyber, goth, and a Mary Poppin's nanny set on the fringes of an Italian mafia family. There's a moat with a hungry crocodile, lumbering pet guardians that munch on stray visitors, unwanted nannies and intruders, and three children desperate to keep the family together. Technology and magic work together in this book with sometimes interesting, sometimes awkward results. In the end, however, I find myself interested in learning more, just to see what other wacky ...more
Dec 23, 2009 Sensitivemuse rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Sep 15, 2007 Patricia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got through a little over half of it and could no longer continue. Too many lame tongue-in-cheek jokes. The plot isn't easily followed, the whole thing seems really scattered. The characters are silly (and not in the good way.) I would not waste a child's time with this book when there are so many well-written stories out there.
Destinee Sutton
Aug 07, 2007 Destinee Sutton rated it it was ok
Shelves: middle-grade, fantasy
A librarian at the Wallingford branch recommended this to me, so I had high hopes, but it wasn't great. There's a strange mix of computers and magic, which seems like a good idea in theory, but on the page it just doesn't make sense.
Kat  Hooper
Aug 24, 2011 Kat Hooper rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Titus and his sister Pandora have another new nanny. It’s hard to keep nannies around the Strega-Borgia mansion, but despite the siblings’ best efforts to scare off the latest applicant, Mrs. McLachlan is undaunted. She’ll be taking care of the kids and their scary pets because their dad, Signor Luciano Strega-Borgia, has abandoned the family and their mom, Signora Baci Strega-Borgia, has started witch school.

The Strega-Borgia kids soon turn their attentio
Aug 20, 2008 Swankivy rated it did not like it
This is quite frankly one of the worst kids' books I've read in a long time--many apologies, Debi. Let's start with characters' names: If you're a parent and you've already named your children Titus and Pandora, what are the chances you'll name your second daughter "Damp"? Not bloody likely, but I figure the author thought it'd be cute.

We've got monsters living in the dungeons and a croc in the moat who likes to eat nannies--at one point the dragon shits all over the place (conveniently having
Julie Decker
Aug 16, 2014 Julie Decker rated it did not like it
The Strega-Borgia children--Titus, Pandora, and Damp--are left banging around their castle home without their parents; with Mom off at a witchcraft university and Dad having been kidnapped, they are to be cared for by a nanny, and they aren't allowed to reveal their magic. The nanny has some secrets of her own. A number of unfortunate incidents befall the children, including accidental shrinking of the baby and losing her on the Internet, a criminal infiltrating their castle with typically crimi ...more
Apr 11, 2012 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like: kid's stories, crude humor, and weirdness
Shelves: kids
It's hard to write a review on a kid's book because the writing has to be so much more simplistic than an adult or even a teen novel. However, I will try my best to be fair and address everything necessary.
I found the characterization to be pretty great. Each character had not only a specific voice, but distinct characteristics as well. Since there were quite a few characters for such a small book, I consider this to be a great feat. Each character was easy to distinguish and they wer
Jun 26, 2008 Amy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Teens and high reading level Elementary age
Shelves: junior-fantasy
Wild, crazy and over the top wacky!

Debi Gliori must be a blast to know, if I base my opinion on this series anyway!

What a cast of characters, it's a good thing there is a guide at the beginning of the book. I loved getting to know the Strega-Borgia clan; 10 year old Pandora, her 12 year old computer genius brother Titus and the baby, Damp; along with their parents Signor Luciano and Signora Baci Strega-Borgia.

Oh, but don't forget the list of creatures that also call Castle Strega-Schloss home: M
My friend K loaned this to me a year ago, promising it was cute and fun, which it was. A little bit derivative, but not in a way most kids would pick up on. To me, it was basically like a Lemony Snicket book, but with computers. Three kids, the youngest still crawling and not talking with a funny name (Damp), get into some trouble, have parents who aren't much help, a funny nanny, and a lot of odd monsters as pets/guard dogs. They all (including the mother) think their father has left when in fa ...more
Apr 05, 2009 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, kids, 2010
In the opening pages of this book, I thought it was a rich-kids-get-rid-of-the-nanny story. I couldn't have been more wrong. Sure, it features unruly kids (and their pet rats and spiders!), an ancient house, a hapless mother, a butler, and a nanny, but it also features a dragon, a yeti, a gargoyle, a talking spider with a penchant for lipstick, various wizardly gadgets and people with magical abilities (or lack of!).

It's also got some hilarious family scenes, and a great chase to rescue their m
Sally Allerton
May 14, 2013 Sally Allerton rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-favourites
I read this series of books with my children some years ago (they are all adults now) and we all absolutely loved them. We enjoyed them so much that after buying the first book in paperback I brought it again in hardback to be kept as a beautiful set. If I was reading them on my own as an adult maybe I wouldn't have given five stars, but I would definitely recommend them to be read out loud to be enjoyed with children. They are funny, sad, exciting and just a little bit naughty.
Jun 11, 2015 Samm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book makes me want to reread all the books I loved when I was little so that I can catch all the sarcastic jokes included for parents that may be reading them.
Jul 13, 2008 Emma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Feb 19, 2017 Isla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I just re-read this book after hosting an event with Debi Gliori for NIGHT SHIFT, a beautiful and important illustrated guide to the horrors of depression. I read the Pure Dead series when I was younger and ADORED them, and I absolutely loved revisiting the world. I will absolutely be rereading the entire series. The humour and world is fantastic - I love the mix of magic, reality and utter lunacy. As expected, while re-reading I picked up a few jokes I wouldn't have got as a child, and those ex ...more
Jan 30, 2014 Kristin rated it really liked it
This book, the first in a series, was a cute and quick read. Set in the Strega-Borgia family castle in Argyll, Scotland, complete with a moat and a dungeon, this dark comedic little romp begins when Signor Luciano has already deserted the family (unbeknownst to them, kidnapped) and Signora Baci(a student witch) tries to balance her studies and childcare duties by hiring another nanny to look after the children. Titus, the oldest, is a computer whiz, and Pandora enjoys caring for her pet rat Mult ...more
Pure Dead Magic by Debi Gliori
3 stars

Many years ago, a librarian friend of mine recommended a couple of books written by Debi Gliori--2 more in the Pure Dead series). She knew I enjoyed children's books and thought these reminded her of "A Series of Unfortunate Events". At the time, I didn't realize these were actually in a series so I just read them, enjoyed them and forgot about them. In transferring my books over to GoodReads, I was reminded and decided to pick up the first one to see if I wo
Feb 15, 2010 Alexis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, i've read some trashy books in the last few years, and this is one of the worst.

I got this book years and years ago when i was in primary school (about the age of 7) when the school book fair came passing. I liked the title back then. Thinking I'd get a story of ghosts and scary ghouls i handed over my money for it. The book was eventually forgotten the second i got it home though.. haha
Almost seven years to the day i found it amongst old childhood stuff as i cleaned out some old boxes from
Donald Scott
Jan 01, 2016 Donald Scott rated it it was ok
It's hard to really describe the events of this children's book for ages ten and up ... mainly because so, so much is going on throughout it. The residents of the Strega-Borgia mansion are not having much good luck lately; mom and dad had a fight, leading to dad's storming out of the house - and then getting summarily kidnapped by some thugs working for his evil brother, as Signora Strega-Borgia wigs out and tries to pretend things are business as usual, including going off to her witchcraft cla ...more
Nov 30, 2009 Mandy rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2008
Precis: Mum's at witch school, and has chucked Dad out, when he is kidnapped by his Italian mobster family. The kids are playing on the computer, and have shrunk the baby and e-mailed her to the mobster's house. They have to get her back, with the help of a large talking spider, and one of Mum's wands.

I bought this book at a fete and read it to make sure it was okay for my daughter to read.

Well, that's the excuse I gave, but I could not resist the title could I? I really enjoy reading children's
Oct 27, 2011 Jillyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The father of Titus, Pandora, and Damp Strega-Borgia has left home, and when he leaves, everything seems to go downhill. The children chase away nanny after nanny, each of which faces a rather unpleasant end. Finally, the job is given to Flora McLachlan, who is hiding quite a secret of her own.

In a dark, strange, technological world, all is not as it seems. Their seemingly estranged father is in trouble, and e-mails Titus. By an unfortunate mistake, their baby sister Damp is sucked away, and nob
May 31, 2011 Brenda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The dust cover describes this book as "a cyber-gothic-gangster fantasy" which fits it pretty well. I see the book as Mary Poppins meets The Addams Family meets The Soprano's. The story begins in Scotland at the Strega Schloss with the Strega Borgia family interviewing Flora McLachlen, one of the many nannies who have interviewed at the Castle. This is the first book in the trilogy and centers on four themes. The children's father has been kidnapped, their mother is away studying to become a witc ...more
Conan Tigard
Nov 13, 2015 Conan Tigard rated it really liked it
Pure Dead Magic is a fun book about witches living a fairly normal life in Scotland, except for the magic, of course. The story revolves around an evil and greedy brother that wants to kill his brother's family to inherit all of their money. The story moves along at a steady pace, and sometimes seems a little slow. The assassin in the bunny suit was quite funny and I really enjoyed reading about him.

Titus, Pandora and Damp are interesting characters, but the new nanny is probably the most intere
The Flooze
Jun 06, 2009 The Flooze rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lemony Snicket fans
A hilarious and clever introduction to the Strega-Borgia family, their assorted pets and the hired help.

Gliori has created a whimsical tale of magic and mayhem. The characters are distinct and likable, and plenty prone to getting into trouble. Pandora, Titus and Damp are precocious youngsters too smart for their own good. Their mother is a witch in training whose spells don't quite go as planned. Their father has been recently kidnapped. The cook thinks Readymix concrete makes for a lovely cake
Feb 06, 2014 Isaac rated it really liked it
key issues love family magic beast betrale
message family is everything
Pandora sister, likes rats, mom and dad wierd intresting protagonist

Titus oldest child brother , cumputer geek likes mom and dad protagonist

Signora Baci Strega-Borgia mom learning witch craft in school misses husband protagonist

Mrs.McLachlan nanny secretly a witch makes awsome french fries protagonist

Don Lucifer half brother in law to Signora Baci wants to kill titus to get the money from his dad that was given to
Mar 26, 2011 Eleonara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one!!
I didn't enjoy this book at all. It felt like the author was trying WAY too hard to make it funny, but all it added up to was a mess. First, what kind of names are Titus Pandora and Damp? Especially damp, who would name their baby damp. The worst names, though, were the parents. The mothers name was Signora Baci Strega-Borgia and the father’s name was Signor Luciano Strega-Borgia, I didn’t get the difference until about halfway through the book and was utterly confused as to why signora/signor S ...more
Apr 10, 2014 Christy rated it really liked it
Shelves: corben
My 13 year old son and I just finished this surprisingly delightful and very humorous book and are headed full strength into book #2. This book is set to be in modern day with computers and the internet but revolves around a family of gangsters, witches, nannies, man-eating mythical pets, frozen grandmothers, and babies who get shrunk and sent across the world wide web through the modem. There was a slightly gruesome moment where someone lost their head but the "Addam's Family" feel of this book ...more
Aug 26, 2014 Graham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Debi Gliori writes funny thought provoking books for kids, and this one is no exception. Think of a mix of Lemony Snicket and Artermis Fowl, and throw in a frozen granny, a lipstick wearing spider, a dragon whose intestines react badly to haddock, Tock the crocodile (really, you don't need me to explain that one?), and a host of bad ass mafia guys (including a rabbit costumed gangster), big guns, misbehaving magic wands, and a Nanny named after three whiskies. If you have the heart of a 9-12 yea ...more
Tina Fletcher
Feb 13, 2011 Tina Fletcher rated it did not like it
Shelves: middle-school
This book was horrible. There is too much being thrown in way to fast for a elementary school reader to handle. The names of the characters are hard enough to read on top of the fact that you cant keep them straight because they are so shallow. The setting was described poorly so you have no sense for the feeling of the story. There are way too many references and tags the author tried to put in the story to get people interested. Instead it just became a mumbled dump of poor writing. A child wo ...more
LCL Children'S
Sep 16, 2015 LCL Children'S rated it liked it
Titus and Pandora Strega-Borgia have problems. Their father has left the family, their mother is preoccupied with her witchcraft classes, and they have a no-nonsense new nanny. When they manage to accidentally shrink their baby sister and zap her into cyberspace, can they find a way to get her back? And has their father really left them, or did something much more sinister happen?

It's hard to summarize the plot of this book, because it's so wacky and interconnected. I can see kids really liking
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Wooden Mile (Something Wickedly Weird #1)
  • Clemency Pogue: Fairy Killer (Clemency Pogue #1)
  • The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse: A Chet Gecko Mystery
  • Heaven Sent (Goddesses, #1)
  • The Sword in the Grotto (Araminta Spookie, #2)
  • Awful End (Eddie Dickens Trilogy, #1)
  • Escape from Castle Cant
  • Tobias e o Anjo
  • Eight of Swords
  • Story Time
  • Young Knights Of The Round Table (Young Knights Trilogy, #1)
  • The Haunting of Granite Falls
  • Shadows in the Darkness (Changeling Detective, #1)
  • Invasion of the Road Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales (Weenies series, #2)
  • Uma Aventura na Ilha Deserta
  • Un bon petit diable
  • The Silver Dolphin (Mermaid Curse, #1)
  • The Vengeful Half
Debi Gliori (born 1959) is a Scottish author and illustrator of children's books.
She grew up as an only child in Glasgow, and when young began drawing and writing stories. She started writing children's books in 1976, and attended art school in Edinburgh from 1979 to 1984. She then received a travelling scholarship award to go to Milan, and worked as a freelance from 1984 onwards.
She is the author
More about Debi Gliori...

Other Books in the Series

Pure Dead (7 books)
  • Pure Dead Wicked (Pure Dead, #2)
  • Pure Dead Brilliant (Pure Dead #3)
  • Pure Dead Trouble (Pure Dead #4)
  • Pure Dead Batty (Pure Dead #5)
  • Pure Dead Frozen (Pure Dead #6)
  • Pure Dead Magic / Pure Dead Wicked / Pure Dead Brilliant

Share This Book

“Bombs Away!" he yelled, swooping low over StregaSchloss. He saw little figures on the ground fleeing from the large green projectile that was speeding their way. "And a direct hit, if I'm not mistaken," he observed to himself. With a tremendous slapping sound, Ffup's digestive overload landed on a human target. There was a scream, a ghastly choking sound, and then silence.” 2 likes
More quotes…