Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black

Reviewed by D. McLaughlin, February, 2017

Have you ever wondered if The Little Mermaid would translate well into a folksy book about hitchhiking and deals with the devil a la Robert Johnson and with a more modern feminist interpretation? Wonder no more. This book is about Blue Riley, a 17 year old girl who, in the first chapter makes a deal with the devil to find her sister (kind of like Arial making a deal with Ursula but instead of finding love, she's finding and saving her sister). This book does very well at telling this story while acknowledging the folk/blues legends (namely Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seger) as well as the drifters and anyone who doesn't live within traditional boundaries. The author does a really very well at taking us into the mind of Blue (I often forgot the story was told in the 3rd person), however the characters don't feel real to me. It doesn't seem like the author considered what the characters would do, but rather what someone like the characters would do (very cliched). Also, some parts of this book had me totally gripped, but others were treading water like Michael Phelps. The ending and the poem/song were a surprising treat though. Overall, I think I like the idea of this book more than I actually liked reading it.