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Book Review: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

April Genevieve Tucholke’s debut book, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, was dark but not horrifying and romantic without the love. It’s a book I’m giving the side squinty eye…

Book Review: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

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between the devil and the deep blue sea April Genevieve Tucholke

Title & Author: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Genre: YA Fantasy – Horror, Supernatural

Release Date: August 15, 2013

Series: Between #1

Publisher: Dial

How I Got the Book: Bought

Description:

“You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town… until River West comes along. River rents the guest house behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard.

Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more?

Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery… who makes you want to kiss back.

Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.”

Speak of the Devil…

I honestly was afraid to start reading Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. I DO NOT like horror stories or movies, but there was something about this book and reader’s reviews that drew me in. So there I was with the book in hand (err, on my Kindle), and I was shocked…

…because the book isn’t all that scary. It’s spooky and creepy, for sure, But I never had an “Oh yeah, I’m definitely having nightmares tonight” moment. I don’t think it not being scary is a bad thing per se, I was just expecting it. (Books like The Unbecoming & Evolution of Mara Dyer gave me chills and had the disturbing factor).

What Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea does really well is keeping readers in limbo. Almost immediately after being introduced to River West, the new guy in town who is renting out Violet’s family’s guesthouse, you understand that he’s bad news. The question is, how bad?

Is he evil or just mischievous? Is he hurting people or are they just accidents? The suspense is wonderful and kept me turning pages like mad.

Another thing I really enjoyed about the book was the little quirks of Violet’s family and the town. Violet’s grandma’s home is nicknamed Citizen Kane (Citizen for short), and Violet creeps out her brother Luke by wearing their dead grandma’s clothes. Plus, they live in a quaint small town, complete with a town drunk.

Although I thought these elements were put together well, it still didn’t stop me from having a few issues with bigger parts of the story….

…And He Shall Appear

River was one of the most intriguing characters of the book. I wanted to know more about him – which readers do get a better glimpse as the book goes on – and his web of lies. That was the problem, though. I saw the lives of Violet, Luke and her friend Sunshine, and I felt nothing.

Luke is obnoxious and just plain cruel, and Sunshine is a sex-pot with no emotional depth. They felt real but there weren’t likable. And that was the trouble, no one was likable. I guess Violet was the most relatable, but she’s aloof and alone. Normally that would make me sympathize with her, but the added layer of accidental snobbery and indifference makes her feel distant and removed.

Don’t get me wrong – the story is well done. River’s cloudy past is not the only skeleton in the closet. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea offers several mysteries to solve, including one in Violet’s own family.

One trope I’m getting very tired of in YA is the “he’s so bad and does terrible things but I can’t deny my feelings” mentality. Take it for what it is, but I’m starting to find it annoying, childish and upsetting.

OVERALL:

The characters were unlikable and unrelatable and the gothic horror element feel flat for me (and I’m just a wimp, too!). I do think the series has potential, though, and will be tuning in for the second book at the very least. The saving grace for Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea was the quirky town and continuing mystery of River West.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.