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.
Genre: Another-World, Heart-Wrenching, Historical, Romance, Royal-Court, Supernatural, Suspense, Teen, Witches--
Teo wants nothing more but to punish those who disrespect her powerful father, using her hidden magic to turn them into inanimate objects. When a letter arrives for her father and ends up poisoning him near to death, Teo needs to go into the city to find a cure. But nobody will speak to a girl, so she must master her wild magic enough to turn herself into a boy, a spectacular skill she observed a stranger perform. What Teo does not know is that her magic, life and family are all in danger now and her choices may seal their fate.
I found this to be a very interesting approach to gender, and the way the characters describe themselves made so much sense, broaden gender boundaries in a positive way. I like how fluid Cielo was, able to have both male and female characteristics but it was so harmonious, part of them as a whole. Oh and the tension between the main character Teo and the gender fluid Cielo ramped up so taut throughout the story I was afraid I was going to snap right along with them. Every stolen glance or brush of the hand was so intense! Amy does a fabulous job of showing that gender does not matter when it comes to attraction and feelings.
I will say though that Teo spent a lot of time thinking about sex while she was suppose to be finding a cure for her father, battling her brother spying on the ruler, and dealing with some serious loss- it seems like she had way too much on her plate for desire, but what would I know.
There was magic but also heartbreak in this story. It was kind of like a yin and yang- learn to create this impressive, powerful magic yet at the same time destruction and death will follow- one might even say that magic leads to death. The entire concept of the Brilliant Death was terrifying. Never has a title been the best fit ever so a book than this.
This was a very interesting, different book from anything I have ever read. I highly recommend an adventure into this dark, dangerous, fantasy world full of passion, lies and discovery.