Bluesman Robert Johnson wasn’t the only musician to go down to the crossroads and make a deal with the devil. In Jennifer Mason-Black’s Devil and the Bluebird, 17-year-old Blue Riley takes her guitar and meets up with the red-haired woman in the red dress. Blue promises her soul for a chance to find her missing sister.
This sets Blue on a journey across America, alone, where she discovers the darkness awaiting young people living on their own, homeless and without means. She learns about human traffickers, shelters for abused women and children, families who reject transgender children, and those twisted individuals who simply enjoy harming others. Through all the ghosts and demons, Blue’s guitar and her musical instincts give her insights into when and who to trust.
The strengths of Devil and the Bluebird include a countdown aspect that drives the narrative hard, and the edgy twang of Mason-Black’s narrative voice. Some of her characters are unforgettably evil, while others are sympathetic as they struggle to decide what to risk and whether to be generous. Although this book is marketed as YA, it defies and transcends that categorization.