Monday, May 9, 2016

ARC Review: Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black

Title: Devil and the Bluebird
Written by: Jennifer Mason-Black
Published: May 17, 2016 by Amulet
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: “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 advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I learned about this book from Britt when we were filming our podcast about debuts. It sounded totally interesting so when I saw a copy on Netgalley I had to request. I enjoyed Devil and the Bluebird. It's a great combination of a coming-of-age road trip story with magical realism but there were some elements that I didn't really blow me away.

I went into this book expecting it to be much more of magical realism, a fantasy subgenre that I have been really enjoying so far. I mean it's about making a deal with the devil after all, and that sounds really cool. But it actually didn't have much of those elements but that was okay. But there were some really great fantasy and supernatural elements that were involved here in the book. Like most magical realism it would throw subtle magic into the story which added a lot of atmosphere and mystery to the book. It made for an interesting world and setting for the book which I really liked. 

One thing that surprised me about this book is that I actually liked the road trip aspects. I'm typically not into that plot device but here it worked. Not only was it purposeful but engaging. Each stop brought the MC closer to her goal and along the way she learned all about herself and the world around her, as road trip stories should. This may have also been because there was a lot of action and drama along the way. I usually hate road trips but this one I liked. But that being said, there were some things I didn't like about the plot and pacing. It did all build to an interesting conclusion but it felt like it took to long to get there for me.

But that being said, there were some elements of the plot development that didn't exactly work for me. I think that my main criticism is the fact that there was almost no falling action. It took almost the whole book to get to the climax and then when that was over, so was the book. The actual climax was good however, it had subtle hints as to where it was all leading and small things from early in the book came back in a big way towards the ending. But for me, it took a little too much time to get there and then the climax was over in too short a time. Then the book was just done. To me, it seemed sudden and then left things feeling unresolved.

As far as the characters go, most of them were involved for such a short time it was hard to fully connect with them but I did like them enough, they just didn't make a lasting impression. But I did like the main character, Blue. She has some great character development throughout the book. It's this interesting combination of learning to be independent and accept help on other people. It was nice seeing her find connection and a support system along the way while searching for her family.

Devil and the Bluebird was a good read and I did enjoy this road trip story with subtle magic and interesting characters. I would have liked a little more falling action but it was an entertaining read and a good debut.

I give Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow/Buy. I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would to be entirely honest. If you are a fan of road trip stories then definitely check this one out, especially if you like magical realism or books with subtle supernatural elements.

Have you read Devil and the Bluebird? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. This is the first I've heard of this book, but it definitely sounds interesting! I haven't read a lot of magical realism and what I have read has been very hit or miss, so I'll probably wait for a few more reviews before deciding whether to read this one. I don't tend to enjoy when the climax of the book happens right at the end - it leaves me feeling just a little off afterwards. I'm glad you enjoyed this one even if it wasn't a perfect read! Great review :D

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

  2. I'm glad you liked it! I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on a copy!