cover image The Wicked Bargain

The Wicked Bargain

Gabe Cole Novoa. Random House, $18.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-59337-801-4

Debut author Novoa explores the often-underrepresented history of various marginalized populations in the early-19th-century Caribbean, using cinematic action scenes to conjure a swashbuckling tale brimming with sorcery. In 1820, nonbinary 16-year-old Mar León de la Rosa sails the sea aboard La Catalina, one of the Caribbean’s last pirate ships, captained by their father, the legendary pirate Embrujado. When El Diablo arrives to claim Embrujado’s soul in exchange for a deal he made long ago, El Diablo turns his sights to the crew and Mar, planning to steal their spirits as well. After narrowly escaping, Mar is rescued by the son of another pirate captain. Mar’s ensuing quest to save their father is further complicated by their desperate attempts to hone their magia, abilities they’ve been ignoring their whole life. Learning that giving up their soul to El Diablo would set Embrujado free, Mar looks for a way out of El Diablo’s deal, which threatens the entire Caribbean. Novoa imbues this moving exploration of historical transmasculinity and riveting examination of Spanish colonization with riotously good fun, making this an ideal read for audiences seeking a mix of knowledge and thrilling adventure. Characters are of Latinx descent. Ages 12–up. Agent: Louise Fury, Bent Agency. (Feb.)