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Pure Dead Magic Hardcover – September 11, 2001

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (September 11, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375814108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375814105
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,902,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Welcome to StregaSchloss, the ancestral castle of the Scottish clan Strega-Borgia. Ignore the sign at the gate that reads, "Warning! Trespassers will be (a) served for breakfast, (b) turned into frogs, (c) forced to eat Brussels sprouts." Cross over the drawbridge, try not to get eaten by the crocodile in the moat, ring the bell, and don't flinch when the butler, Latch, drags open the heavy door and intones "You rang?" Meet the inhabitants: Titus, 12; his sister Pandora, 10; the baby, Damp; their Mary Poppins-like nanny, Mrs. McLachlan; the grim housemaid, Marie Bain; and down in the dungeon, the large untidy house pets--a yeti, a griffin, and a dragon. Signora Strega-Borgia is away at her witchcraft class; Signor Strega-Borgia has been kidnapped by his evil brother, and at the bottom of the freezer in the wine cellar is the ancestral grandmother, Strega-Nonna, wrapped in several layers of aluminum foil, waiting for a cure for old age to be discovered. Now get ready for some of the most deliciously bizarre and hilarious goings-on ever to grace a cyber-gothic-gangster fantasy. Pandora accidentally shrinks Damp with her mother's Disposawand and the tiny baby crawls into the computer modem and is whisked away into cyberspace; some spectacularly inefficient gangsters (including one in a rabbit suit) arrive and are up to no good; Titus sends his pet spider, Tarantella, into the Internet (mother of all webs) to find Damp; and Mrs. McLachlan comes to everybody's rescue in an uproarious finale to the most original fantasy in years. (Ages 10 to 14) --Patty Campbell

From Publishers Weekly

Gliori's (Tell Me What It's Like to Be Big) debut novel merges traditional fantasy with high technology; the result is a bit of a conceptual mish-mash with a tangled plot, enlivened by an eccentric sense of humor. In Scottish castle StregaSchloss, the three Borgia children (12-year-old Titus, 10-year-old Pandora and a 14-month-old girl, Damp) find their family in crisis: their father has disappeared, their heartbroken mother is busy at witchcraft school and the pet mythical beasts that live in the dungeon are growing restless. When Pandora borrows her mother's magic wand and loses her baby sister in the modem (the technological practicalities are a stretch) the children must rely on a smart-talking spider to rescue Damp from the information superhighway while they also try to save their father from his evil, elephant-nosed brother. Computer-savvy readers will no doubt be frustrated ("What you've failed to grasp, o leggily-challenged one, is that this is virtual travel. Not real travel," says the spider to Pandora, shortly before they actually send themselves, via e-mail, to the nefarious brother's house). Others will wonder why the villain prevents the father from e-mailing the police but allows him to e-mail his family for help. But bathroom humor abounds (dragon diarrhea, a hit-man in a rabbit suit peeing in his outfit) and Gliori's oddball characters are certainly good fun; the book and its two projected sequels may charm audiences despite its flaws. Ages 10-up.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

The characters are funny and surprisingly real.
It had all kinds of things in it that I just don't care for.
E. R. Bird
I have been recommending them to everyone who will listen!
Karen E. Fauls-traynor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I read this book at approximately the same time as Amelia Atwater-Rhodes's "Shattered Mirror," and was struck by the turgidity of one and the originality of the other. This book manages to portray junior gothicism with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
Signor Luciano Strega-Borgia vanished a month ago, prompting his household to deal with the situation. Signora Strega-Borgia is now working on her witchcraft course, and as a result the young children Titus (12), Pandora (10) and baby Damp (1 1/2) in the care of a new nanny. What else has happened? A henchman in a bunny suit, the baby getting uploaded onto the Web (fantasy for 2001!), the monsters in the castle (including a yeti, griffin, dragon...), a frozen grandma in the basement, and some delightfully over-the-top villains.
Indeed, this book may appeal to fans of Lemony Snicket, given that the lead trio (boy, girl, baby girl) is quite similar. This book, while equally amusing, does not possess the despairing tone but rather a darkly upbeat manner. There's also a bit of tech humor. Unlike the Harry Potter series, and like "Artemis Fowl," this book fully acknowledges modern technology, enjoyably inaccurate as the idea of losing a little sister on the modem. At the same time, we are granted more traditional items such as the attempted murder of a character by his evil conniving brother.
The lead trio is plenty of fun, smart and gutsy kids who have enough of an edge to be above-average. The villains are... well, villains. They don't really amount to much more, but the bunny suit is worth it.
That is not to say this book is flawless. A few bits of potty-humor spring up that got a bit tiresome, and there are some plot holes that you could throw a basketball through (such as the call for help). However, because of the quirkiness of the plot many readers may simply shrug and say, "Hey, it's fun."
Overall, an original fantasy. Hope the next two books are written!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Herman HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The weird Strega-Borgia family lives in their large (and very strange) home, known as StregaSchloss, in the Scottish Highlands. There's Titus, who's twelve and is obsessed with computers, his ten-year-old sister Pandora, who has a pet rat, and their baby sister Damp, who is... well, a baby. And of course their parents: their mom, a witch-in-training, and their father, currently in the captivity of his evil half-brother, as well as the cook (who actually can't cook for her life), the butler, and the nanny. Not to mention the various beasts and creatures that also make their home at StregaSchloss. Of course, the REAL trouble starts when Pandora dabbles in magic, shrinks Damp, and sends her over the Internet. This unusual, hilarious, and VERY WEIRD book is great for readers who like humorous fantasy books.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A. KAPLAN on December 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As Amazon.com's review points out, this story overflows with imagination, and may turn out to be a great example of post-Harry Potter juvenile fantasy. Combining the classic trappings of a magical adventure with modern children's fascinations with computers and techonlogy, she has created a book that is hip, fast-paced, and very funny. The characters are clearly depicted with definite, individual personalities. It's a shame that the plot doesn't live up to the quality of the prose.
While I enjoyed the book while reading it, I felt unsatisfied the second I turned the last page. It felt as if Ms. Gliori had so many good ideas, she was more concerned with cramming them all in rather than exploring any of them. From the start, we learn that Mrs. MacLachlan, the new nanny, is a former witch determined not to use her magic on her new job as nanny. Why not? Family parents Signor and Signora Strega-Borgia are currently separated, which is an important element to the story. Why? The reader is never given much real information, and that makes it difficult to become truly involved with the story.
Ultimately, then, the book is fun, but slight. With its short chapters, it might make a good book for teachers to read aloud to their students in daily installments, but for me, it failed to come together to form a strong enough novel to impress me as much as the works of JK Rowling or Lemony Snickett.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
The story begins at StregaSchloss. Three children, Damp (14 months), Pandora (9 years) and Titus (12 years). Their mother and their father have separated, and now the harassed mother is looking for a good nanny that can make french fries crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. Damp immediately falls in love with the new nanny, Mrs. Flora McLachlan, and Titus and Pandora admit that her fries are tasty.
Meanwhile, the childrens' father, Luciano, has been kidnapped-by his own half brother, Lucifer. Lucifer has been after Luciano for twelve years, trying to get rid of him. Lucifer wants the money that has been left in the bank for Titus, and he has an evil scheme that involves Luciano signing a paper enabling Lucifer to steal Titus' money!
Pandora's rats are missing, and she has made a bet with Titus that she can find them in five days. If not, she has to swim across their moat. the very same moat that happens to contain a very large, very hungry crocodile named Tock. A crocodile that hasn't eaten for weeks...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "shayamorph" on January 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Titus, Pandora, and their baby sister Damp live in a spooky mansion and had decent lives until their father disappeared from them. Unaware that their father has actually been captured as a pawn in an insidious plot, the kids don't know if they'll ever see their parents back together ever again. They don't like their new nanny, and their lives have become miserable. Not only are they upset -- the crocodile who guards the moat hasn't eaten anyone in a long time, and neither has the big spider in their attic. And their grandmother, preserved in a block of ice for centuries, certainly has a lot to complain about. But little do the kids know what adventure is in store for them all -- and adventure that begins long before their baby sister is accidentally shrunk and sent in an e-mail. Pure Dead Magic is a funny, dark, and witty fantasy in a planned trilogy by Debi Gliori, but not among the most enjoyable books out there. However, it's very hilarious and fairly entertaining.
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