Review by Brennan LaFaro
Billed as barrio noir, Gabino Iglesias’ work contains a unique mix of crime, horror, and grit that feels at home down by the Mexican/American border. Iglesias cemented his voice on the excellent Zero Saints and Coyote Songs, but somehow those masterful pieces of work feel like a prelude to The Devil Takes You Home.
Iglesias wastes no time endearing the reader to Mario, our main character; a necessary undertaking for the trials and tribulations to come. If we couldn’t get in this guy’s corner from the beginning, this novel wouldn’t have worked. In the opening chapters, Gabino rips out the reader’s heart and steps on it in a preview of things to come. With many horror books, I might suggest the author enjoys twisting the reader’s guts, but Iglesias writes loss in such a meaningful and personal way, there’s no way he enjoyed doing so. It lends the story an immediate air of authenticity.
The Devil Takes You Home explores the lengths a man at the end of his rope would go to salvage any semblance of happiness for those around him. Mario’s journey of self-discovery is brutal, bloody, and full of surprises. Iglesias doesn’t shy away from showing the reader the worst of humanity, writing scenes he must know will draw a grimace, but also add to the plot. You may hear some readers lament the unorthodox use of bolt cutters. Let me add my voice to the mix.
While Mario feels fully realized and carries the story on his shoulders with ease, the supporting cast adds a layer of complexity that elevates the story from intriguing character study to contender for crime/horror book of the year contender. Juanca, in particular, adds a depth and makes for some of the more alluring wrinkles. Juanca and Mario’s interactions allow Gabino to explore instances of racism and what happens when the perpetrators push their privilege too far and get fed their own teeth.
The Devil Takes You Home is crime, it’s noir, and although I won’t go into detail, horror readers who love Iglesias’ work will find lots to like here as well. The book brims with righteous anger; a portrait of a man dealt one shitty hand after another and how things play out when he chooses not to simply lay down and die. With Devil, Iglesias makes his major publishing debut, but expect to see lots more from this immensely talented author.