Book review

Pure Dead Brilliant by Debi Gliori (2003)

It can be dangerous stuff, magic:

Prowling along the topmost shelf in between fossilized jars of jam, Black Douglas hissed. 'What are you on about now? What's this pussy nonsense? Give me a break ...' And then, his yellow eyes widening in alarm, he realized that Baci was waving a wand in his direction. He stiffened, his fur sticking straight out from his body. Baci? The most incompetent witch in the history of the institute? Casting a spell? With a terrified miaow, Black Douglas launched both himself and several jars of jam into mid-air in the faint hope he might thus be able to avoid being the target of one of Baci's dire mis-spellings.
'Vexing hex be thus undone - cat to mat to man become.'
Baci gasped, ducking to avoid the lethal hail of jam jars crashing down from the top shelf. This spell would, for once, have been perfect had it not been for a brief lapse of attention due to falling preserves. Baci's second stanza became a garbled 'c-a-tomato man become' as, to her horror, Black Douglas turned into the main ingredient of pasta sauce and hit the floor with a loud splatttt, scattering tomato seeds and pulp everywhere.

Actually, it's a pretty dangerous place, StregaSchloss. It's where Titus and Pandora live, and their baby sister Damp. Oh well, yes, there's also Signor and Signora Strega-Borgia, and the nanny, and the butler, and the cook, and a few mythical dungeon beasts as well, thrown in for good measure.

Signora Strega-Borgia. She's Titus and Pandora's mother, and she's the one who is a keen student witch. But she does tend to adopt the broad brush approach to her spell casting. Actually, she's useless at it. And so are her classmates who she invites to stay for a week while they prepare for their end of term exams.

Meanwhile, Titus and Pandora begin to realize that Titus' enormous family inheritance comes with strings attached ... quite a few people are after his fortune, and that includes Astoroth from Down-Under who has come to claim Titus' soul, pursuant to a long-standing agreement made with an earlier ancestor of the Borgia clan. Astoroth is in disguise as one of the bungling student witch house guests.

Well now, it's a mess, and I can tell you that everyone has a hand in sorting it all out - and that includes baby sister Damp the most gifted witch of the lot, Mrs McLachlan the nanny with a heart of gold, and Tarantella the seven-legged spider.

Read it. I think you'll love it!

What can I read next?

It's part of a series, so there's more! Have a look at these:

  • Pure Dead Magic
  • Pure Dead Wicked

If you enjoy Pure Dead Brilliant, you've probably already enjoyed Harry Potter, but I'll still recommend them anyway:

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I loved this gentle book about a magically gifted family, by Charlotte Haptie:

If you fancy reading something really funny, all about magic, I think you would enjoy Eoin Colfer's books:

Or you could have a look at the Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell:

Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile:

Pure Dead Brilliant features in these lists: