Genre: Teen Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Crescent Moon Press
Release date: February 2013
Source: e-ARC from publisher
In a word: laugh-out-loud funny, romantic, character-driven and exciting.
I had such fun reading The Devil’s Triangle, an entertaining story about second chances and the lengths one might go to for love. I was a bit worried when I started reading, since the story begins after our main character, Cooper Wanderman, has died and is facing St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. I really wasn’t looking forward to reading a book crowded with morality lessons, and I hoped it wasn’t going to get too heavy-handed and preachy. But my fears were laid to rest, happily. Although De Palma clearly has a message to impart, I was too thoroughly caught up in the story and the engaging relationships and characters to worry about the author’s agenda.
The story begins in Purgatory, as newly deceased Cooper faces a beautiful girl named Lucy (who just happens to be Lucifer’s sister) who is about to decide the future of his afterlife. Lucy seems to have a heart, however, and she agrees to give Cooper one more chance at a shot in Heaven. All he has to do is go back to Earth for one month and help a girl named Grace. Easier said than done, however, because when Cooper wakes up in his new life, he doesn’t recognize anyone, even though everyone knows him. Cooper does his best to fit in to his new role as a high school football star and get to know his new family, including an older brother named Ryan and a mother and father who make him feel loved and welcome, a far cry from his old life as a foster kid. Cooper soon finds Grace, the girl he’s meant to help, but he doesn’t have any idea what kind of help she needs.
When Cooper realizes that a bully named Blake is dating Grace against her will, he thinks he may have found his mission: to help Grace get out of an abusive relationship. But why does Grace seem so familiar to Cooper? And why do memories of an unfamiliar life keep intruding into his memories from his other life? It may seem confusing, but De Palma takes all these story elements and weaves them together, and the outcome may surprise you.
Although Cooper’s adventures on Earth and the meddling Lucy and Lucifer up above mingle throughout the story, it was the action on the ground that really kept me reading. I found it much more interesting to observe as Cooper slowly figures out what his purpose is and how he is able to change his destiny, as well as the destinies of his friends and family. But when he occasionally speaks out loud to Lucy, who is presumably watching him from “above,” I was jarred out of the story. Even though Lucy appears to be part of the “triangle” of the book title, and her purpose in the story is to play “puppeteer” with Cooper’s destiny, I thought she was one of the weaker characters and could have been developed more. All of the earthly characters are well drawn and I loved spending time with them, but the sections that take place in Purgatory made me uncomfortable, and just like Cooper, I wanted to get out of there as soon as I could.
De Palma’s dialog is pretty funny, and I thought Cooper and his friends sounded like typical high school students, and there were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. A few metaphors did make me cringe, however, and I wasn’t sure if it was the author’s voice coming through, or Cooper’s sense of humor. Lines like “My tongue sat in my mouth as still as a lizard sunning itself” and “My dreams flew at me like a gaggle of geese desperately flying out-of-the-way of a plane’s propeller” made me laugh, but to me they felt out-of-place. When a line is so bizarre that it takes you out of the story while you try to visualize the metaphor, in my opinion it’s a line that needs to be cut.
And yes, there is some romance in the story, because Cooper’s driving force to help Grace is based on love. The author does a great job adding romance in just the right amount so that she doesn’t scare off male readers, while also showing the seedier side of high school relationships, like the one between Blake and Grace, which is about power and control rather than love. De Palma will keep you reading until the satisfying resolution at the end, and this short story may seem all too brief when you’re finished.
Many thanks to the author and publisher for supplying a review copy.