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The Brilliant Death

(The Brilliant Death #1)

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  2,229 ratings  ·  582 reviews
For Teodora DiSangro, a mafia don's daughter, family is fate.

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, se
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Viking Books for Young Readers
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Elyse After reading the book, there's no doubt in my mind that there will be a sequel.…moreAfter reading the book, there's no doubt in my mind that there will be a sequel.(less)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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 ·  2,229 ratings  ·  582 reviews

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chai ♡
Someone: hey-

Me, busy being emotionally invested in this 19th century mafia story featuring genderfluid shape-shifters, an amazing queer romance and an iconic and unabashed obliteration of the concept of gender binary: shhh please be quiet

So, what’s this book about?

Teodora di Sangro, the daughter of a mafia don, pays for the safety of her family with the coin of her own conscience, parceled out every time she wields her secret magic—a shadow talent of turning her father’s enemies into decora
Emily May
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult, arc, 2018
Teodora di Sangro’s life is built on secrets.

The Brilliant Death sucked me in pretty much instantly when the protagonist - Teo di Sangro, who is a strega - waltzes onto the page and turns a man into a music box for threatening the well-being of her family. As it turns out, this guy is just one more trinket added to Teo's collection. You'd better learn it fast: while Teo's around, no one screws with the di Sangros.

Hell yeah.

From there, a bigger fantasy world opens up, filled with stregas and
Elle (ellexamines)
I had discovered a special way that women could be dangerous. They were trained to play close attention to people. To take them apart, like Luca had done with his clockworks, and study how they ran.

3 1/2 stars. This was so. freaking. interesting. A story following a genderqueer narrator who can turn people into boxes, and her love interest who can literally magically switch sexes, all set in a 19th-century-Italian-inspired world by an Italian-American author. Like, come on, how can I
C.G. Drews
Well this book was most thoroughly...wait for it...BRILLIANT. (((oh please you absolutely knew I was going to say that. I was given an opportunity and I took it.))) I was absolutely in love with the premise as soon as I heard about it and it turned out to be everything I want in a fantasy?! It absolutely kicked it's way past generic doors and gave us what we crave: queer narrators, strong family ties, really interesting and different world building, magic that's sometimes soft and sometimes terr ...more
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If any of this interests you I highly recommend picking this up:
- 19th century Italy inspired world
- mafia family
- political intrigue
- unique magic system
- queer main character
- genderfluid love interest
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
I wanted to love this one bc the queer rep was AMAZING, but I’d be lying if I said the plot didn’t have my eyes glazing over for 90% of the book. It takes a lot for me to like fantasy and this just didn’t do it for me 😕 womp
may ➹
Amy Rose Capetta called her partner her “very own sexy magic tutor” in the acknowledgements and your loss if you don’t want to read a book about sexy magic tutors, magic that can turn men into objects, and gay

// buddy read with felix and bad memory
I've thought about it and while a lot of the premise of this book sounds amazing, as an Italian person the mafia element makes me way too uncomfortable to even consider reading it. ...more
Hayley ☾ (TheVillainousReader)
DNF 32%

When I first decided to DNF this over the weekend I had a lot to say about it. Now, I just don't care. I don't care enough for a roast, I don't care enough for a lengthy review, I just do. not. care. about this book.

At. All.

What I do care about is that I freaking bought this at full price, which I never do and it was so disappointing, and now I'm pissed and I want my money back. So, without further adiu a quick run through.

1. The characters were boring and flat. I didn't care what they t
julianna ➹
wow our main characters are a genderfluid couple, amazing

The Brilliant Death is set in an Italy-inspired land, Vinalia, where they’re ruled by the five mafia-esque dons. In this world, stregas are people who have various powers— such as being able to bake food that helps uncover hidden memories or turning someone’s worries into physical form— but most of them are hidden to the outside world. Teo, the protagonist, is the daughter of one of the dons and secretly a strega: she often turns her fathe
Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥
What's this magic and when can I read it?!

I mean:
- A Mafia don's daughter
- A gender fluid character
- Magic!!!
- A queer romance
- Some sort of blood feud?!

Sign me up!! I need this in my life ASAP!!!
This is what I call intriguing. XD
I had to do a little thinking before writing this review.

It’s likely clear from my star rating that I didn’t like it very much. I won’t give it one star because there was something I appreciated about it.

I like the fact that this is a diverse author who gives us a main character who is also diverse. I looked at the author’s website out of curiosity and she self identifies as bi, demi-girl, and queer. And this seems to be who her main character is, which is awesome. I think there will be readers
3.5 Stars

This was nice enough, but I wanted something a bit more! The storytelling was well done, but at times it felt a bit rushed. I think I'd of enjoyed this more if it was a duology so it could build the story that little bit more.

The characters were well done and learning about the Strega had me gripped, but as previously mentioned things happened too quickly and I wanted to find out what happened to certain characters.

There were certain twists that I didn't expect and I enjoyed that aspect
4.5 stars

This book was FANTASTIC.

Wait no, sorry, let me try again, I don't think I was clear enough. THIS BOOK WAS REALLY FANTASTIC AND AMAZING AND I LOVED IT SO SO SO MUCH GO READ THIS BOOK.

There we go. That was better.

What? I haven't convinced you to read it yet? Okay fine. Here is a list of (some of) the reasons why you need to read this book:

- The wonderful world building! I fell completely in love with this world. It felt so real and rich and complex. I wanted to know so much more about it
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off, Amy Rose Capetta can write her a$$ off. Every sentence, shoot, every clause within a sentence is razor sharp, zigging when you think she’s going to zag. “The day shaded into a subtle blue evening and sounds of a gathering led through the Palazza like a beckoning finger. I followed the shiver of violins, determined to meet the crowds with a face that suited the di Sangro heir. “ If you like that kind of writing, then this is your book.

Five families in this mythical country are being f
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Understanding rustled through me, soft as leaves. It wasn’t quite the same, but I’d often felt I didn’t fit inside the boundaries of the word girl. It reminded me of a country I could happily visit, but the longer I stayed, the more I knew I couldn’t live there all the time. There were moments when I sorely wished to be free of the confines of this body, the expectations it seemed to carry.”


Well, this was fabulous!

YA fantasy is a genre that I'm starting to feel weary of. I'll always have a s
AMAZING QUEER REP 🙌🏼 the plot didn’t hook me as much as I’d have liked, but overall it’s a solid story. Definitely recommend giving this one a try if it interests you!
Vicky Again
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wishlist
4 stars

If I could pick three words to describe this book with, it would be "lush," "conspiratorial," and "queer."

Because this book is "lush" in almost every way:

- It's magic system--with the strega who are going through a time of change as people attempt to exploit their magic and use it for nefarious purposes--fully embodies the word "lush" with the elegant way the magic works and its smooth execution.
- "Lush" in the way that the characters are rich and developed and shaped in a way that you un
Unique YA fantasy is hard to find, but this is one! The worldbuilding is inspired by pre-unification 19th century Italy. Teodora is a daughter of the mafia Di Sangro family--she's also a strega who turns enemies into inanimate objects. She has to journey to the capital when her father falls magically ill. Along for the ride is Cielo, a genderfluid shape-shifting strega. Thoughtful interrogations of politics, gender identity, and the patriarchy. Fantastic audiobook narration too! ...more
Aug 02, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf, queer, historical, fantasy
*This text might contain mild spoilers*
DNF 130 pages in. I was so so excited about this book. But it turned out to be the biggest book disappointment of 2019 so far.💀 But let's start with the good things I guess.

1. It's an easy read, in the sense that the pages just ran away from me.
2. Queer characters!
3. Discussions about gender.

And now, the bad things:
1. Discussions about gender. The author is non-binary, but the way they talked about gender and sex made me very uncomfortable. The love inte
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 1/2 stars

The world definitely needs more sexy gender-bending magic tutors – I know I’ve always thought so, and this book definitely delivers on the SGBMT’s. This is mostly a classic quest/court-intrigue type fantasy, but the beautiful writing and unique details kept me interested until the end.

Teodora (“Teo”) DiSangro has been her family’s secret assassin ever since she was small and realized that she was a strega who had the power to change people into everyday objects. Thanks in large part t
I've been mulling for several days what I want to say about this book. I enjoyed while I was reading it, but I can barely remember anything substantial from the book now. I liked the many odd ornamental things that main character Teodora transforms men into, I liked the magic, I liked the fluid nature of Teodora's identity; however, all I can really say now is this was an okay story, rather than something that really moved me. ...more
♠ TABI⁷ ♠
"We're not like them. Or rather, we are and we aren't. People hold a deep fear of complication.'


There's a lot to unpack about this book. First off, it is so, so, so queer which is both one of the strongest and yet also the most confusing things of this book. I understand fluidity and stumbling your way towards finding who you really are. But I guess, in something that goes through rounds and rounds of editing, wouldn't the journey of these characters have been a little more precise than i
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbtqia
DNF at 50%

Instagram | youtube

I’m so fucking bored by mind keeps going back to Disney +
Feb 23, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
literally nothing happened in this book. it had a plot, but everything was always resolved so quickly that there was never any reason to focus on anything which just meant it was boring to read.

also, i know this book is own voices, but the gender fluid rep being based on shapeshifters because they can physically change their shape to match the gender they want at any given moment? yeah that felt really weird.

i think it’s quite clear that i won’t be reading the sequel any time soon.
This is such an immersive, well-written fantasy! I love the Italian-inspired world and the gender fluid lovers, and the magic system is really well thought out.
Karima chermiti
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, fantasy, new-adult

Family is fate.

I must admit that I stumbled on this book by chance and the title just drew me in so I read the synopsis and boy was I hooked like never before. I was so intrigued and felt slightly confused why I didn’t see this book being read by many people cause you know it’s a YA fantasy, it has an original elements to the story, it felt like something different and that’s why readers from this genre always demand, something new, something bold, something beautiful so I was wonder
Madalyn (Novel Ink)
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-releases
This review originally appeared on Novel Ink.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

If you’re a regular visitor to my blog, you probably know by now that reviews of fantasy books from me are few and far between these days. As my reading tastes have changed over the past couple years, I’ve slowly gravitated away from fantasy, and it takes a special book to make me want to pick up the genre. The Brilli
Fadwa (Word Wonders)
I would die for the characters, they were literally my favourite part of this book, the way gender was discussed with so much nuance through two genderfluid MCs was so amazing and the romance between them was VERY cute (albeit slightly underdevelopped). Other than that, i only started caring about the plot towards the end because it felt very much scattered through over half of the book. That being said I really want to know what happens next so i'm definitely going to read the next book! ...more
It seems as though everyone loves this novel. There is a sea of glowing praise for this novel, and I do agree with the consensus: this is a fantastic fantasy novel that most people will fall in love with. I, however, am not one of those people.

This book had some amazing aspects, like its discussion of gender roles and family, with its positives and negatives. Other than that though this novel was decidedly not for me.

Firstly, the writing was just very strange to me? Things were described in a
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Bookish First Rea...: The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta 2 2 Oct 22, 2019 11:24AM  
YA Buddy Readers'...: The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta Starting 22nd Jan, 2018 1 7 Jan 22, 2019 02:39AM  
The Magic Mafiosa 1 9 Aug 18, 2018 01:25PM  

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A. R. Capetta (all pronouns), the author of Echo After Echo and The Lost Coast, has lived in Austin and worked as a professional baker and holds a master of fine arts in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. A. R. Capetta is married to author Cory McCarthy, and they live in Vermont with their young baker.

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The Brilliant Death (2 books)
  • The Storm of Life (The Brilliant Death, #2)

Articles featuring this book

Caroline Tung Richmond is an award-winning YA author and the program director of We Need Diverse Books. Run by authors, librarians,...
97 likes · 15 comments
“Understanding rustled through me, soft as leaves. It wasn’t quite the same, but I’d often felt I didn’t fit inside the boundaries of the word girl. It reminded me of a country I could happily visit, but the longer I stayed, the more I knew I couldn’t live there all the time. There were moments when I sorely wished to be free of the confines of this body, the expectations it seemed to carry.” 14 likes
“But that’s it,” Cielo said. “We’re not like them. Or rather, we are and we aren’t. People hold a deep fear of complication.” 3 likes
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