The Brilliant Death (The Brilliant Death #1) by Amy Rose Capetta

Teodora di Sangro would do anything for her family. Including using her secret magical powers to turn their enemies into household junk. Her magic marks her as a strega–a witch–but being a strega is dangerous in Vinalia.

When Teo meets another strega who can switch effortlessly between forms as well as genders, she’s enraptured. Cielo is determined to show Two that she can also switch forms, but only if she trusts her magic enough to let her. This battle with her magic might be Teo’s only hope to save her father too. The Capo has poisoned and killed the patriarchs of the five ruling families besides Teo’s father, but his life hangs in the balance.

Teo must transform into a boy and become her brother Luca in order to uncover the secrets and powers at work in the capital. I really enjoyed this story. There were so many good parts I don’t even know where to start! Teo was a strong character. I loved her devotion to her family, but also to herself. As she continues trying to help her father from afar, she begins to realize she needs to help herself first. Even if that’s only learning how to control her magic better.

Teo’s family was quite complicated, but wow I loved them all except her horrid older brother. Seeing how much she cared for her younger brother Luca and her sisters was the best. And I loved her relationship with her step-mom! This book was so beautifully narrated too. It’s set in an Italian centered world and the names, the sayings and just the language was so beautiful. Literal music to my ears.

This book also really takes a look at gender roles and identity. Teo has a complicated relationship with her gender identity. I loved seeing her come to realizations about it and her body. Her character arc was so well done and she really grew by the end of the story.

I really want to know more about strega. Like why are they so hated when there seems to be so many of them? I loved that there was talk of how magic was passed down, but I could totally dig more of how it came to be and why certain peoples’ magic manifested how it did. Excited to see where The Storm of Life will take Teo’s story!

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