The Wicked Bargain by Gabe Cole Novoa: All about Family

El Diablo is in the details in this Latinx pirate fantasy starring a transmasculine nonbinary teen with a mission of revenge, redemption, and revolution.

On Mar León de la Rosa’s sixteenth birthday, el Diablo comes calling. Mar is a transmasculine nonbinary teen pirate hiding a magical ability to manipulate fire and ice. But their magic isn’t enough to reverse a wicked bargain made by their father, and now el Diablo has come to collect his payment: the soul of Mar’s father and the entire crew of their ship. 

When Mar is miraculously rescued by the sole remaining pirate crew in the Caribbean, el Diablo returns to give them a choice: give up their soul to save their father by the harvest moon, or never see him again. The task is impossible–Mar refuses to make a bargain, and there’s no way their magic is a match for el Diablo. Then Mar finds the most unlikely allies: Bas, an infuriatingly arrogant and handsome pirate–and the captain’s son; and Dami, a gender-fluid demonio whose motives are never quite clear. For the first time in their life, Mar may have the courage to use their magic. It could be their only redemption–or it could mean certain death.

In “The Wicked Bargain” by Gabe Cole Novoa, it is all about family, especially found family. It is rich with characters that are three dimensional and authentic. I loved how it sets up the character, gives us background on Mar, and sets up the dilemma. Mar is also presented authentically, presenting the body dysmorphia realistically and giving readers a nonbinary character to connect and empathize with. 

As I read the book, I found myself empathizing with Mar, loving Mar’s origins and the flashbacks that details Mar’s life with their father and family. But I also like how the author builds Mar’s new relationships after losing their father. The relationships are rich and complex as Mar tries to find a solution to their dilemma, how to save their father without falling into El Diablo’s trap. 

If you love diverse and authentic stories, especially with young adults characters, I highly recommend The Wicked Bargain. With the nonbinary characters, the theme of found family, and the rich worldbuilding, this novel is not to be missed. It offers a beautiful story with well thought out magic and the ending is beautiful. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 tattoos. 

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