The Diablo’s Curse

Random. Feb. 2024. 400p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593378052.
Gr 9 Up–Dami will do anything to escape being doomed to life as a demonio with no human senses after their awful childhood with El Diablo. Unfortunately, this requires them to undo each and every one of their 127 deals with humans; easy enough until Dami meets Silas, whose family curse of untimely death is thwarted by the deal Silas made with Dami. Unless Dami can help Silas undo the curse by finding and returning Captain Kidd’s treasure, Silas cannot agree to dissolve the deal without dooming his sister to death, but as they travel to and try to survive the invisible island where the treasure lies, time is quickly running out for Dami’s hopes of staying human. Upon finding the invisible island of Kidd lore, they meet shipwrecked Marisol, a smart, funny, and kind transgender girl who may be their only hope of figuring out the puzzles keeping the treasure hidden—and once the treasure is found, Dami will have to decide what is really most important to them. Novoa hits his stride here with snarky, sparkly characters, threading exciting action and Silas’s repeated visceral deaths with warmly emotional and gently informative scenes. As all three characters work to break free of the roles that others have placed them in, questions of identity, self-awareness, and self-definition arise and are handled with genuine care and heart. The slow-burn romance feels sweetly shy and grows organically.
VERDICT An energetic, dynamic, and satisfying adventure.

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