F.T. Lukens on their new YA fantasy, Otherworldly and the Deal With The Devil’ Trope

"There are tales from all over the world, from a variety of different cultures that share many of the same elements of the typical Faust narrative."

This post was written by F.T. Lukens, author of Otherworldly.

Hello readers! This is F.T. Lukens and I’m excited to be here to talk about my new release Otherworldly. Otherworldlyis a paranormal romance that blends classical mythology with Faustian bargains while taking place in a contemporary fantasy setting.

As I was thinking about what I wanted to write about for this article, I leaned toward discussing the Faustian narrative archetype. Two characters in the novel enter deals with otherworldly beings for power and knowledge. And while that being is not a demon nor a devil, there still is the transactional nature of the relationship and the consequences of the bargains struck are dire for both characters. Arabelle, a witch, bargains her soul with the Shades for the knowledge to create an elixir of life, while Ellery signs a pact to gain information about the ongoing supernatural winter. Both of these ‘deals with a devil’ are instrumental to the plot of the novel.

Stories about dealings with otherworldly beings are not just a western cultural concept. There are tales from all over the world, from a variety of different cultures that share many of the same elements of the typical Faust narrative. And I know that by the time I took a class in college where we read and discussed Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, I must have encountered several of these stories as I already knew the concept of making bargains with the devil. I had to have learned it from a piece of media I’d encountered as a child or teen. I reflected on where I may have first seen or heard about someone making a deal with a demon or a devil for a gift of some kind. And that led me to think about where readers of my novels may have encountered the trope before as well. Thus, I started researching.

Thankfully, TV Tropes.org has a specific “Deals with the Devil” tag which was immensely helpful in compiling the below list. I knew I would definitely find some interesting things, but I didn’t realize the ubiquitousness of the trope in the media I would’ve consumed in the 80’s and 90’s. And how prevalent it remains in the media my potential young adult audience may consume. And yes, as with most tropes, there is a Looney Tunes episode.


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So here is a random list of where you may have encountered a deal with the devil/demon/magical being before. I tried to make the list varied with examples from cartoons, literature, live-action movies, video games, and even music.

Devil’s Feud Cake is an animated short episode of Merrie Melodies (Looney Tunes) where Yosemite Sam winds up in hell after a botched attempt at larceny. He makes a deal with the head devil to be allowed back to capture and send Bugs Bunny to hell in his place. He eventually gives up when capturing Bugs is too difficult and opts to stay in cartoon hell.

Cuphead – Cuphead is a video game where an anthropomorphic character of a cup loses a game in the Devil’s casino. He then makes a deal to harvest other debtor’s souls for the Devil as a way for his soul to be spared.

The Wicked Bargain by Gabe Cole Novoa – In this novel, the protagonist’s father made a previous deal with el Diablo and now on Mar’s sixteenth birthday, el Diablo has come to collect their father’s soul and the souls of all the pirate crew.

Disney really leans into this trope. They’ve used it in Gravity Falls, The Little Mermaid, Hercules, and The Princess and the Frog. In Gravity Falls, the character of Bill Cipher is the representation of the devil, and he makes a deal with the main character Dipper in the episode Sock Opera. In the Little Mermaid, Ursula coaxes Ariel into a bargain obtaining Ariel’s voice in exchange for Ariel to have legs. In Hercules, both Megara and Hercules make bargains with Hades. And in The Princess and the Frog, there are two deals made – one between Prince Naveen and Dr. Facilier and the other between Dr. Facilier and his friends from the other side. I’d like to point out that this movie is an example of Disney borrowing heavily from other cultures and religions specifically Haitian Vodou and suggest reading reviews and criticisms from the represented community.

In the 90’s movie Tombstone, the group of actors that come to town put on a short play entitled Faust where the character makes a deal with the devil.

In both versions of the movie Bedazzled, the main character (in the 00’s version played by Brendan Fraser), makes a deal with the devil in exchange for seven wishes.

The Devil Went Down to Georgia is a song by The Charlie Daniels Band that depicts a fiddle playing contest between the devil and a boy named Johnny. The bet between them is if Johnny wins he gets a fiddle of gold while if the devil wins he gets Johnny’s soul.

This is only a small list of media that utilizes the concept of a deal with the devil. And each puts their own spin on the concept just as I did in Otherworldly. For more information, check out the ‘Deal with the Devil’ tag on the TV tropes website. Or take a Shakespeare class and hope that the professor was as in love with Christopher Marlowe as mine was and assigns a paper on Faustian bargains in media.

Get your copy of Otherworldly by F.T. Lukens here.

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