Updated: Oct 5, 2022
From the opening word of THE DEVIL TAKES YOU HOME author Gabino Iglesias kicks readers in the gut and then keeps on kicking. Setting an unrelentingly somber and brutal tone that permeates this tale of a man clinging to the end of his rope, who goes about making all the wrong decisions but with the best of intentions.
Mario’s young daughter is dying of cancer, his marriage is falling apart, and the looming medical bills cast an ever-reaching shadow of debt that he cannot outrun. Desperate, and with no other options available, Mario does what he must for his family. Reluctantly turning to a life of crime in order to make enough cash to keep them afloat. When the opportunity for the score of a lifetime falls into his lap, Mario must decide how far he is willing to go for the chance at some semblance of reconciliation for what is left of his family that has already been shattered well beyond the breaking point.
A genre defying mashup of crime, noir, and supernatural horror, dubbed barrio noir by the author. For me it felt like Breaking Bad (my favorite TV show of all time) and From Dusk Till Dawn got together and birthed a mutant offspring. There are cartels, hitmen, drug smugglers, gun runners, and a few nightmarish creatures to be found along the gritty landscape of the U.S. - Mexico border. The real fabric holding the story together though are the interwoven themes of racism, poverty, religion, and violence. How they push and pull and tear at the characters, informing the decisions they make while also being responsible for the situations they find themselves in to begin with. Speaking of the violence, while not overly gory and grotesque, it is visceral, cruel, and savage. There is one scene in particular that is bound to make readers cringe (you’ll never look at bolt cutters the same way again).
Iglesias writes with such a natural authenticity you can feel that he is drawing upon his own personal experiences at times. From eating up the ashplant driving along empty stretches of highway to the lonely roadside diner serving greasy food with water spotted silverware to the longing for and fond memories of home, the sights, tastes, and smells of our childhood. These are small but I think powerful moments where the characters become more than just words on the page, they become relatable in ways that we the readers can make a tangible connection, see ourselves slipping, if ever briefly, into their shoes.
A bleak and haunting depiction of the “American Dream”. THE DEVIL TAKES YOU HOME by Gabino Iglesias is a modern-day odyssey, not of Greek heroes and faraway lands, but of desperate men seeking redemption, attempting to make amends and right wrongs the only way they know how, by spilling blood. An assault of loss, grief, strife, and near hopelessness Iglesias masterfully plucks away at the reader's raw heartstrings of emotion while delivering a passionately harrowing tale of revenge. This was my first read from Gabino but it will definitely not be my last. I have COYOTE SONGS burning a hole in my Kindle just waiting to be read.
I received an eARC of this book from the publisher through Netgalley for review consideration.
Title: The Devil Takes You Home
Author: Gabino Iglesias
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Publication Date: August 2, 2022
Format Reviewed: eBook