Reviewed by Jasmine Sov, age 17

Damned If You Do by Alex Brown

Ever since Cordelia Scott’s abusive father left when she was ten, life has been pretty normal. Now in her senior year of high school, Cordelia has other concerns: stage managing the school play, crushing on her best friend, and keeping her grades up in AP Lit. Unfortunately for her, those concerns are about to get a lot more…hellish. When she finds out that Fred, the new guidance counselor, is actually a demon from Hell, she doesn’t believe him—until he summons hellfire at his desk. What’s more, her father didn’t actually leave: Fred killed him and sent him to Hell. And ten-year-old Cordelia made a deal with him to do so by giving him a part of her soul. Now, Fred’s back to cash in on his end of the deal. If Cordelia doesn’t help him subdue a rival demon, part of her soul will be lost forever—and that rival will set an even more demonic plan into motion. Can Cordelia save her town, her soul, and most of all, herself?

“Damned If You Do” bills itself as “queer Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Filipino folklore.” However, it didn’t include as much romance and folklore as I had hoped. There’s one creature from Filipino myth present—an aswang, which was both cool and scary whenever it showed up. Other than that, the novel mostly draws from the Bible. The queer romance between Cordelia and Veronica is definitely there, but I wish more had happened between them besides pining after each other for most of the book. The writing is mostly brisk and witty, but there’s some gore midway through the book that shifts the tone to a more serious one. Soon after, the tone becomes comical again, which was a bit jarring.

3.5 stars

Find this book in our catalog: Damned If You Do

Catalog Number: YA FIC BROWN, A

345 pages