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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
A child pursues lethal vengeance on his adult uncle.
Violence & Scariness
Uncle Giorgio murders several people, and tries to kill others. Alfredo briefly considers suicide.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Castration is discussed. Sailors assume that Alfredo's uncle has a physical interest in him.
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Swearing indicated by punctuation marks.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that children may need an explanation of castrati singers in the past. Some parents may find Alfredo's pursuit of vengeance on his adult uncle, unquestioned by the author, somewhat troubling.
Is It Any Good?
The story isn't the story here; it's a perfectly serviceable story, of course, and in the hands of a lesser writer that's all it would be. But this soaringly lyrical combination of music, fire, and magic rises off the page like an aria.
Alfredo is a most appealing hero. Though a choirboy, he possesses both the talents and the anger of his forebears, who master the most elemental of forces. He's a deeply loving, empathetic, and emotional boy whose powers of deduction are formidable. And though he tries hard to love his strange uncle, when he discovers the truth, his vengeance is both methodical and terrible. With so much fantasy these days seeming to follow the same formula, this dark and brilliant novel is a breathtaking surprise.
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