The Diablo's Curse cover
Books, Reviews

The Diablo’s Curse Review: A Fun, Magical Island Adventure

Any queer individual will know the experience of feeling uncomfortable in their own skin and wanting nothing more than to find a world where they fit in. This is exactly the basis of Dami’s story throughout The Diablo’s Curse by Gabe Cole Novoa.

This book dives into the various queer experiences of the three main players. Whether it’s Dami’s genderfluid desires, Silas’ queer identity, or Marisol’s Latina transwoman experience, this tale allows the reader to be captivated by what makes each of their narratives relatable.

It is Novoa’s hope that people walk away from this book having an appreciation for the various kinds of love and that readers will realize they, too, can be the heroes of their own story. After reading, I can attest that this message is very clear around every corner of Dami’s quest.

You Aren’t a Monster

Something that Dami grows up hearing often is that they are a monster, all because of their demonio identity. However, once they dive deeper into the quest to end Silas’ curse, they realize that being a demonio doesn’t automatically make someone bad or evil.

It’s a journey that Dami has needed to go on since we first met them during The Wicked Bargain. It’s a quest that allows fans of the character to get to know them on a deeper, more personal level.

That’s not to say people who haven’t read the prior book can’t love and appreciate this book. In fact, all audiences can gain something fun and revolutionary from Dami’s journey.

With a good chunk of the narrative from Dami’s perspective, Novoa ensures that the reader understands their struggles not only with their demonio identity but also their gender presentation. As a demonio, Dami is able to change their appearance at will.

This allows them to live more comfortably in their genderfluid identity. However, they also want to shed their demonio identity because it prevents them from really living and enjoying the world as a human does — good food, love, feeling various textures, etc.

As Dami helps Silas on the island, they come to realize that their own desires can’t trump helping this young man break free of a curse that plagues his family. In order to do so, Dami realizes they have to give up on wanting to be human.

What Dami doesn’t realize at first, but the reader hears loud and clear, is that their sacrifice proves once and for all that being a demonio doesn’t mean they’re a monster. By giving Dami the proof that he can be something perceived as negative and prove the world wrong, Novoa is telling readers that they, too, are beautiful just as they are.

Centering the Latine Narrative

Fans of The Wicked Bargain can go into this book knowing that Dami’s Latine heritage will take center stage. It becomes especially prevalent when Dami and Silas meet Marisol, a Latina transwoman.

One of the most beautiful parts of this exploration of Dami’s sense of self is when they meet someone else who speaks their language. They immediately feel more comfortable in their own skin, not just because Marisol understands their genderfluid identity but because she also intimately knows their Latine culture.

If you decide to listen to the audiobook version of this beautiful story, another element of Latine heritage comes from the multi-talented voice of Vico Ortiz. Ortiz’s own non-binary identity and Puerto Rican heritage add another dimension to these trans characters.

The elements that stand out with Ortiz’s performance is the vulnerability they add to both Dami and Marisol in their times of uncertainty. Whether that uncertainty centers on their identities or their desire to get off the island, Ortiz manages to give these characters warmth and relatability through their unique voice.

There is something to be said about the celebration of the Spanish language that comes forth in the casual way in which Dami and Marisol flip back and forth between it and English. In a way, Silas becomes all of us English-speaking, white readers when he is left wondering what he’s missing in the conversation.

Novoa gives attention to the culture in such a way that we are made aware of it by celebrating that which we don’t know. It subtly encourages us to take the time and look up these simple words and phrases to better understand the characters we are getting to know.

It’s All Just a Bunch of Fun

At the end of the day, beyond the obvious trans joy, queer love, and celebration of diversity, The Diablo’s Curse is a fun adventure. From start to finish, we are on the edge of our seats, wondering just how Dami will fare on their quest to become fully human.

We instantly become invested in their journey because they are either a character we already know, or they captivate us by pointing out their ability to change their form. Who doesn’t want to follow a shape-shifting character on a journey to become free?

Along the way, we become more intrigued by their somewhat contentious bond with Silas, who is the one person standing in their way of getting what they want. Never once do we put the book down because we’ve felt their journey has become tedious or boring.

Novoa has a way of keeping us invested in whether or not Dami will become human and whether or not that is what they really want. Is there a way for both Silas and Dami to have a positive outcome?

What about Marisol? Will she ever be reunited with her accepting brother in Connecticut? All of these questions follow us as they search for a way out of Silas’ curse.

Oddly enough, this dangerous and tedious journey is made that much more exciting by the fact that Silas will inevitably die and then come back to life. We keep reading because we want to see what manners of death Silas will have to endure before their quest is successful.

By the end, we are clutching the book to our chests in happiness because we couldn’t think of a more positive ending for all the characters involved. Dami, Silas, and Marisol all become a part of our family by the end because we feel as though we helped them get there.

 

 

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Mads is a part-time entertainment journalist and full-time marketing content creator. They love reading the latest in Queer novels -- especially romance ones and watching the latest dramas, sci-fi/fantasy, Star Wars, and romcom films/TV shows. You can join the conversation by following them on Twitter: @dorothynyc89.

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