Sunday, March 27, 2016

look at her go: reviewin' reviewin': devil and the bluebird

Devil and the Bluebird
Jennifer Mason-Black


release date: May 17th 


blurb: “Devil-at-the-crossroads” folklore finds its way to YA via this moody, magical tale

Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass.

Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself to finding family in unexpected places.

In Devil and the Bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black delivers a heart-wrenching depiction of loss and hope.

I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley and ABRAMS kids, so thank you to both of them for this opportunity. Devil and the Bluebird is one of the oddest YA books that I've ever read, but in the best way. It is creepy and chilling and dark, but it also is threaded through with this hope and goodness. It is this combination that makes it compulsively readable. This book is different than I was expecting it to be: it is about a girl named Blue Riley, who has lost her mother to cancer and her sister to the wind, and who makes a crossroads deal with a devil for the chance to find her. It is the sort of magical realism that draws you in and makes you wonder whether things like this could actually happen. It is also a sort of study into human nature, and the difference between kindness and cruelty. I also was heartened to see a great amount of representation, both of race and sexuality, in this novel. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for something off-beat and different from anything else out there right now.

I don't know exactly what is was about this book, but I was under the spell of it immediately. There was something hypnotic about Blue's wanderings around the country. Blue was basically homeless for the majority of this novel, and it was so interesting to read. You expect for a book to have a cast of characters that you get to know over the course of the novel, but this book was truly about Blue and the devil woman whom she made the deal with, and there were so many other characters that fly in and out of the narrative. From Steve, who broke my heart, to the librarian, to Andrea and her little girl, to Dill, to Trish, I loved all of the people that helped Blue throughout. Then, the people who tried to hurt her were also interesting in their own ways. 

I liked the idea of bringing a crossroads deal into a YA novel, it reminded me of the time that I watched eight seasons of Supernatural in less than six weeks. Though the rules of this type of deal/magic/etc weren't laid out nicely for us, it didn't really matter. The woman in the red dress that Blue makes a deal with pops up in the story to reveal bits of information as we go along, and I liked that Blue was as clueless as I was, because it made me feel like I was going on a journey of discovery as much as she was. Blue's character development was incredible. She became sure of herself, determined, confident in her music and her decisions, and learned how to survive and fight on her own. When we get to the end, I felt like the Blue at the beginning would be unrecognizable to me. That is always really satisfying, especially because no one came in and helped Blue grow, she went through it mostly alone, figuring things out the hard way. 

This book is about family and the difficult relationships that exist between people who consider each other as such. Blue's relationships to her mother, her sister, and Tish (her mother's partner in music and in life), were all complicated, and that made them feel really real. The other part of this book that I really enjoyed was the musical aspect. I felt like I could hear the Dry Gully songs coming off the page, and I liked how Blue was able to her and follow the music in other people. I can't really put my finger on a lot of the things about this book that I liked, but I think its almost better that way. I think that, to go into out without any expectations, would be to enjoy it more. I definitely enjoyed this book, and I would love to read more like it!



  1. This sounds really interesting and unique and I love that cover! The crossroads and setting sound so well done! Great review!

    1. the cover is what initially drew me towards this book (i'm such a junkie, it's a problem) but i loved the actual book as well! thanks eva :)


80% Read the Printed Word!