Release Date: October 30, 2018
Read: August 12, 2018 – August 20, 2018
First Thoughts: I read this book because in the Editor’s Letter in the beginning and I knew that I had to read this book because Hello, who doesn’t love a Miyazaki style story with a Renaissance Italian setting!
Thank you to the publisher and BookishFirst for providing me a copy of this book to review
Okay, I will admit, as usual, I didn’t read the synopsis before I started this book. I had only read the first paragraph of the editor’s letter and said yes, I must read this. So that is why my review is before the synopsis as the synopsis is as the book says but it makes it seem a lot weirder then the book actually is. Hence why I am giving you the choice to expose yourself to the synopsis.
This book really reminded me of An Enchantment of Ravens as it was short (around 330 pages) but it felt like I was reading a much longer narrative. The prose was well written and the plot moved rather fast; there weren’t any scenes that didn’t contribute to the overall plot of the book. The story did end wrapped up but there is definitely room for the author to write a sequel if they chose.
My favorite part of the book was the magic. In Vanalia, those with magic are called Strega, which is Italian for Witch and that makes total sense considering that the setting is Italian inspired, and they aren’t loved but they aren’t exactly persecuted. Teo, the MC, had magic that was almost like a whole other character. It had a temper and sometimes did what it wanted. Also, I am not going to spoil it but Teo’s ability is awesome and so unique. And speaking of magic there is Cielo, Teo’s meet-cute friend to lover and a totally awesome character! Cielo is a shapeshifter as long as they have their book with spells. Though I enjoyed the magic, I wish that The Brilliant Death was explained better especially since it was a key feature of the story.
This book was quite queer. Cielo and Teo are both genderfluid. I really liked that Capetta wrote these characters the way that she did because I haven’t heard of many books where there is one genderfluid character let alone two and in a relationship, which I totally ship by the way.
The setting of Vanalia was quite interesting though I wish that Capetta went into more detail on who the Capo is. I understand that he is trying to usurp the families that rule to “unify” the land but I didn’t really know who he was and I want more of a backstory on him. One thing that I didn’t really get vibes of is the “Mafia-style” of the families that the synopsis promises. Yes, they were a bit ruthless but the fate of their world is at stake here so I can understand why they do what they do.
The other characters besides Cielo and Teo were not the best but they were also not the worst. Teo’s brother, Luca was sweet and I wish that we could have had more time with him. Then there is Teo’s other brother, Beniamo was a complete terror that deserved more then he received.
Overall, I definitely enjoyed this novel and I am excited to read other books that Capetta has written.
And now the synopsis if you want to read it. (Question: did you like reading the review before the synopsis? Should I do this again?)
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.
Cover Image and Synopsis from GoodReads