A stunning, violent fantasy with beautiful writing and amazing queer characters that made me fall in love with them immediately. The Brilliant Death was one of my most anticipated 2018 reads, and it spot on the Favorites shelf is well-earned.
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, sends poisoned letters to the heads of the Five Families that have long controlled Vinalia. Four lie dead and Teo’s beloved father is gravely ill. To save him, Teo must travel to the capital as a DiSangro son—not merely disguised as a boy, but transformed into one.
Enter Cielo, a strega who can switch back and forth between male and female as effortlessly as turning a page in a book. Teo and Cielo journey together to the capital, and Teo struggles to master her powers and to keep her growing feelings for Cielo locked in her heart. As she falls in love with witty, irascible Cielo, Teo realizes how much of life she’s missed by hiding her true nature. But she can’t forget her mission, and the closer they get to the palace, the more sinister secrets they uncover about what’s really going on in their beloved country—and the more determined Teo becomes to save her family at any cost.
Teo was an instant fave the second I met her. Her struggle with power and her image was enticing, and her magic capabilities were unique and fascinating to watch evolve. I loved her journey through her gender presentation, her identity, and how it related to her magic.
And then along came Cielo. Wonderful, lovely, rascal child Cielo. Watching them interact with Teo was thrilling and hilarious, though I wished there had been more communication between the two of them. If there’s anything that ruins a romance for me, it’s miscommunication.
I wished there was more time spent on the development of the world and the magic system. There was very little I understood about the world building throughout my read-through. Even as someone who reads fantasy on every day that ends in Y, I felt lost. I felt like there was something fundamental missing from the narrative that kept me from being grounded in the world. I wanted more description, more understanding of how the magic works, of what the world looks like, of what it’s like and I just didn’t get it
But the twists and turns of the story constantly kept me on the edge of my seat, always wanting to read more. The Brilliant Death was stunning in all capacities, and Capetta’s voice as a writer has astounded me. Definitely a must-have for all queer readers.