REVIEW: Devil on Her Shoulder #1: The Bruja Is Missing!

A girl with a long puffy lavender ponytail wears a backpack and holds a small round creature in her arms. They are surrounded by wisps of magical essence and the pointed enclosing fingers of a large, devilish creature

The bruja is missing and her 17-year-old niece must find her before something very, very bad happens. But her only help in this matter is the Devil, who is literally on her shoulder — and is very, very annoying.

Devil on Her Shoulder #1: The Bruja Is Missing!

Sandra Cardona (artist), Cédric Mayen (writer)
Europe Comics
August 24, 2021

A girl with a long puffy lavender ponytail wears a backpack and holds a small round creature in her arms. They are surrounded by wisps of magical essence and the pointed enclosing fingers of a large, devilish creature

From the opening pages, you know you are in for something fun and special as the bruja riffles through her belongs, with minions flying this way and that. Her home is a gorgeously rendered work of delicate chaos. Though the bruja momentarily comes off as ominous and cruel, we quickly discover that she is as soft and gentle as she is powerful. But even her powers are not enough to protect her from the perils of the outside world.

Norah doesn’t have much by way of magic, which doesn’t make her the ideal person to handle the mission thrust upon her when she discovers her aunt is missing two weeks later. And she certainly can’t manage the spell to reverse the summoning of the Prince of Hell himself, now trapped in a pentagram after Norah interrupted the spell being performed by her aunt’s devoted, but somewhat dimwitted minion. The Devil is none too happy about the situation, but he has no choice but to rely on Norah, which means packing him and his pentagram into a backpack and trudging off to discover what has happened to the bruja. Along the way, we learn that there is a lot more going on behind and beneath the scenes, such that the Devil may find himself in greater need of Norah than he thought.

Devil on Her Shoulder #1: The Bruja Is Missing! is a middle-grade book that adults will love too, filled with humor and heart and mystery. Despite her magical incompetence, Norah is a strong young woman whose confidence and compassion powers the story, and she manages just enough patience to tolerate a devilish companion who doesn’t seem to take anything too seriously and certainly cannot be trusted. Most often settling into the form of a fox demon, the Devil exudes all the charm and snark fitting of the furry form.

The artwork in this book is absolutely astounding and also, adorable, which is probably not a description this Devil would appreciate. But given the indignity of his current predicament, he is simply not in a position to complain about it. The colors are bright and fun and the imagery flows with swirls and movement. When we step into darker moments in the story, the colors deepen accordingly, drenching the panels with blood and fire without, though not overwhelmingly so, even with trips to the depths of Hell. Sandra Cardona’s pencils contain loads of intricate detail. Foreground and background get equal attention throughout, with unique character designs and patterned imagery. This story is fun on its own, but Cardon’s artwork makes this book deserving of several rereads, if only for the sake of examining the panels more closely to see what else might be hidden in each page.

Wendy Browne

Wendy Browne

Publisher, mother, geek, executive assistant sith, gamer, writer, lazy succubus, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order.

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