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Pure Dead Magic

(Pure Dead #1)

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,723 ratings  ·  163 reviews
Things aren't right at the Strega-Borgia castle. Signor has been kidnapped, Signora is struggling with her spells at the Advanced Witchcraft Institute, and the little ones think their nanny is up to something. On top of all that, there's a gangster in a bunny suit lurking about. ...more
Hardcover, 185 pages
Published September 11th 2001 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published 2001)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,723 ratings  ·  163 reviews

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For some reason I'm in the mood to reread this series that I read aloud to my kids, oh, about fifteen years ago. At the time, we LOVED it. Both boys squealed with glee every time I was forced to haltingly pronounce the town's name - Auchenlochtermuchty. In a few of the later volumes, my husband was even called upon to read some of the dialogue in his best Mike-Myers-as-Shrek-Scottish-Accent. I would say a good time was had by all.

I didn't enjoy it quite as much this time around, but there are s
Mar 13, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Patricia Elzie-Tuttle (theinfophile)
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. ...more
Kat  Hooper
Aug 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 11, 2012 rated it liked it
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, 2009, kids
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
This book was a strange mix. I love the idea of magic coexisting with modern technology and this book was full of that, and full of jokes and puns. It was over the top and mad, but I did enjoy it. At times it was hard to follow due to the amount of characters and plots, but this would all have been appealing to child me, and I am clearly no longer the target age for this series.

A chaotic but enjoyable read.
Apr 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a strange mix. I love the idea of magic coexisting with modern technology and this book was full of that, and full of jokes and puns. It was over the top and mad, but I did enjoy it. At times it was hard to follow due to the amount of characters and plots, but this would all have been appealing to child me, and I am clearly no longer the target age for this series.

A chaotic but enjoyable read.
Destinee Sutton
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. ...more
La La
My son loved these books in grade school.They were funny, intriguing and full of the bodily functions humor little boys love so much! They were our 'child read to mom' bedtime stories. Dragons with diarrhea, how could you go wrong?!! ...more
Jun 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
read this out of weird nostalgia and found that unlike the Diana and Eva middle grade books I've been devouring lately this one really does not hold up for the modern adult audience. Lots of talk about CD-ROMs and toilet humor. However it was very revealing of my past and current taste to realize this book I loved at 8 is essentially just a rich dysfunctional family in a centuries old castle with some magic thrown in. Really highlights my consistency ...more
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had Deep Trouble, Deep Water and Deep Fear for years, but I never knew they were part of a larger series. So, when I found out, I had to start from the beginning, the real beginning.

Excellent intro to the Strega-Borgia family, and, despite being aimed at younger readers, I still enjoyed the tale with all its nonesense and "how does that even work". After all, isn't that the point of childrens fantasy books?
May 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wacky funny read for a lazy afternoon adventure
Jul 13, 2008 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
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
Aug 20, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, feb-book-count
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
Julie Decker
Aug 16, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 27, 2011 rated it liked it
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
McKenzie Richardson
For more reviews, check out my blog Craft-Cycle

Definitely a weird book.

The blurb on the cover told me it would be, "Harry Potter meets Lemony Snicket in a high-tech setting." This was mostly true, but the only comparison to Harry Potter this book can claim is that it has some magical elements: mythical creatures, magic wands, spells. But even the magic is very different. It's more of a mash-up of witchcraft and computers. This made it a little difficult to wrap your head around a times. The bac
Feb 19, 2017 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
Charlotte Bird
not bad for a kids book. kept me entertained while i wait for Breaking Dawn
After reading another person's review, I realized I had read this book in Middle School. Now I want to find it and re-read it! ...more
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious book, but definitely middle school humor.
David Raz
Pure Dead Magic by Debi Gliori
Hebrew review follows סקירה בעברית בהמשך
What started as a cute Adams Family type of book got sour very fast. Between poop jokes (a dragon having diarrhea over the bad guys), an outdated "cyber" reality which won't convince any kid of these days, an almighty magical solution to everything which makes the entire story redundant and lame pun jokes (yes, a spider, in the web, we get it), this book is an insult to kids, which deserve better. The plot is pointless, the c
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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

Other books in the series

Pure Dead (6 books)
  • Pure Dead Wicked
  • Pure Dead Brilliant (Pure Dead, #3)
  • Pure Dead Trouble
  • Pure Dead Batty
  • Pure Dead Frozen

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