Thursday, July 25, 2013

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea 
by April Genevieve Tucholke 
Read: July 19 - 21, 2013
Published: August 15, 2013 by Dial (Penguin)
Source: Arc from publisher*
Category: Paranormal Romance, Gothic Horror, Suspense, YA
Series: Between 1

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 guesthouse 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.
(From Goodreads)

I had a lot of trouble deciding what to tell you about Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Not because I don't have anything to say about it. But because one of the best elements about this story is its dreamy, timeless quality (perhaps I should also say nightmarish), and I don't want to break the enchantment by analyzing it too closely. 

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is a creeping dread. 

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea begins with a deceptively sleepy sort of rhythm. Violet is enjoying a slow summer reading in the sun on the porch of the huge rambling mansion where she lives with her twin brother Luke. To make some money, because her family's wealth is running dry, she's decided to rent out the guest house on the property. This is the moment that River West arrives in town looking for somewhere to live. Everything begins with him.  

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea sucks you in with its pretty words. 

In my mind, this book clearly breaks itself down into three parts: 1) Lies 2) Secrets 3) Horror. Underlying these plot directions is gorgeous, atmospheric prose and the decaying decadence of old money that binds it all together into an irresistible and often terrifying package.  

The setting and descriptive prose had me falling hard for this story from the beginning, especially the charming town by the wild sea and the house called Citizen Kane where Violet and Luke live. But the creepiness, old money and hidden secrets. The suspense and psychological questions this book asks - What the HECK is going on? Who can I trust? Why do I still like people I know I shouldn't? - sucked me in completely. Spine tingling, gory horror is not my favorite, but if you're a fan, this book gets into it. 

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is a moral conundrum.  

I'm always fascinated when an author can make me sympathize and even like characters who do bad things. And then sometimes characters do bad things and I don't sympathize with them. What makes the difference? Should there even be one? I really enjoyed thinking about this and other questions this book asks.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to kiss the devil?

I know I should have been more bothered by the romance in this book than I was. Not only does it start quickly, but I shouldn't have wanted this girl to even contemplate someone she couldn't trust, and felt less certain about as the story continued. But just as much as I feared him, I wanted more of him too. The startlingly quick beginning to the romance is another element that adds to the building uneasiness within this story, and for that I think it worked well. However there comes a point where the mist clears and as a reader I wanted a little bit more reality. I'm still not sure if I got it, though I think that might be the point.  

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is not all that it appears. 

I ended up loving so many of the characters in this book, even with their flaws, or maybe because of them. I could understand why Violet cared for her brother despite his mistreatment of her, hung out with Sunshine and kissed River. Although the characters were described in vivid detail, they all seemed a bit enigmatic and inaccessible at first. I actually loved this aspect of the book, but what is also wonderful is that slowly they unravel and we are able to see glimpses of greater depth behind them. 

I'm excited to see what happens next now that I know what lies Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. The sequel is titled Between the Spark and the Burn and if you've read this one, you know what that means!! I'm eager to delve deeper into this world and characters and find out more answers. Of course I also can't wait for lots of creepiness, secrets and to-die-for prose. 

Love Triangle Factor: None, though I wouldn't be shocked if one was introduced.
Cliffhanger Scale: Mild. Ends solidly, but with some set up for book 2. 

I know book comparisons are dangerous, because they can be very misleading. But for some reason, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea brought to mind a several other books I've read and enjoyed in the past. Interestingly enough, only one of these is a paranormal and none is horror, since I don't really read that genre. Sometimes it was just a small moment, theme or feeling I had that made me think of the books below (aka, no over analyzing):
  • Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel by Daphne DuMarier for gothic, romantic suspense, old houses and not knowing who to trust.    
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt for murder, mayhem, secrets, lies and bored, privileged youth. Plus twins. 

*THANK YOU, Penguin! This Advance, Uncorrected Proof was provided in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I love a good horror story - and Rebecca is one of my all-time favorites - but I think I'll hold off on this one until the sequel comes out. I doubt I could stand the suspense and inevitable ambiguity of some of the unfinished plot lines. I'm really excited to see that this it well-written, though, and contains strong characters as well as contemplative themes - all favorite aspects in my books. I wasn't sure about this one before, but I know I'll be reading it for sure now. Great review, Lauren! :)

  2. I'm glad you liked the writing and the mystery and suspense. I'm definitely up for reading when these things are involved, HOWEVER, there's a big BIG however. I'm not into horror at all. The only horror series I want to read is Mara Dyer and it's more of that mystery-thriller at the same time. Oh, and I want to try Ten. Since I own a copy. But nothing more :D I'm a big big coward :D I'm still glad that basically everything except the romance worked for you in this story and that the characters were enjoyable. They're the most valuable aspect in a story, in my opinion. I hope the second installment works just as good for you :)

  3. OOHHH!! I can't wait to read this one. Of course, I fell for the cover but I'm thrilled that it's all gothic-y and atmospheric. I don't mind a dreamy pace, as long as there's a strong story behind it. And I'm curious about the "love interest", though it sounds like she shouldn't be kissing him.

  4. The setting really is amazing in this one. I did have slight issues with the romance but overall the book was really good. The horror and secrets were so awesome!

  5. I love the sound of this one and, although I was denied on Netgalley by Penguing (as always), I think I'm interested enough to read it. It sounds incredibly atmospheric, and I love a book that really sucks me in. Wonderful review, Lauren! :)

  6. "But because one of the best elements about this story is its dreamy, timeless quality (perhaps I should also say nightmarish), and I don't want to break the enchantment by analyzing it too closely."

    I'm reading this one right now Lauren, and I couldn't agree more! I almost feel like saying too much about it will break some of the magic, so my review is going to be super vague. I skimmed the rest of your review because I'm only halfway, but I can't wait to come back and read your review in full when I finish the book later today:)

  7. I honestly didn't know if I would like this, but slow, haunting, full of lies, and morally ambiguous are my things. I love how thoughtfully you present things. It really gives me a chance to decide what my reaction might be.

  8. I got this book on the same day you got it but I haven't started it yet. You make me want to read it NOW though. When you talk of the romance and kissing the devil, you remind me of how much you love the Darkling. :)

    This sounds a little bit like the Cat Hellison book When The Sea Is Rising Red, although it is probably not at all like it. I'm thinking I may push this one up since it sounds so intriguing and you've only given me enough just to kind of make me want more. I love that. Great review, Lauren. You've peaked my interest times 1000. (as always)

  9. I'm really intrigued by this one and your review really makes me want to read it! And I loved both Mara Dyer and The Secret History, so I'll definitely be adding this to my TBR list. Great review! ~Pam

  10. The romance you described kind of reminds me of Alina and the Darkling in the Shadow and Bone, you fear him yet you root for him at the same time. This is one of my most anticipated titles so I am glad to hear that you enjoyed it. The writing sounds gorgeous as well. Great review, Lauren!

    Alise @ Readers in Wonderland

  11. I am pretty sure that this book is on it's way to me--so I'm going to hold off on reading this but I will most assuredly be back and will probably be texting/DM-ing/emailing you as I read:) But I did glance down at the books that BTDATDBS (wow, that's looong) reminded you of. I LOVED Rebecca and really liked The Secret History too, so YAY! That makes me REALLY excited:) So glad that this one seems to have been a hit with you.

    back soon!

    1. Oh, Lauren--I totally agree with you now that I have read the book. Especially this:

      Why do I still like people I know I shouldn't?

      YES! The entire time I was reading this book I kept feeling the exact same way. We know that the person is question has done some terrible things, TERRIBLE things, but yet I still like so much about him at the same time. Glad you felt the same.

      I absolutely loved the writing, the creepy setting, the sense of foreboding, and the horror aspects. It was a scary book at times and shocking. Not scary like Friday the 13th/ knife wielding maniac (although....) but psychological scary/creepy like a Shirley Jackson book. It truly is a Gothic Horror, imo. Nouveau Gothic Horror, maybe? Regardless of definition, I LOVED it, just as you said I would:) Can't wait for the sequel!

      Oh--do you think this was set in New England? Maine, maybe? I saw mention of Portland and also I think the author said the house was on the Atlantic? But I can't quite remember and the author is from Oregon--so could be Portland, OR? I'll have to go back and look in the book again.

  12. Huh, I really enjoyed Rebecca but I haven't heard a lot of good about this one BUT NOW I am going to give it a shot, I guess. I mean, it just sounds good and I like moral conundrums, also conundrum is my favorite word, so that kind of convinces me.

    Also? I am a fan of pretty words.

  13. YES. I've been avoiding reading any reviews until I finished the book because I didn't want my opinion swayed. I felt almost exactly like you did on this one. I probably won't review, because I don't think I have the words to express my feelings on it without getting into spoiler country. It was awesome and I'm totally buying a finished copy.

    Brilliantly said!

  14. I don't really read horror either, but I appreciate novels with a bit of suspense and a gothic sort of feel. This sounds delightful, even more so in your decision to not reveal too many details. I am definitely eager to read this one for myself!

  15. I LOVED this one! So atmospheric and creepy. And I loved that the author could make me sympathize with River, even though it was obvious he was NOT A GOOD GUY. But I love that she made me question it anyway, whether his crimes were simple retribution or something more moral. Lovely review!

  16. I didn't really have any intention of reading this one, but you've convinced me. I'll definitely be giving it a second look. Thanks for the great review :]


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...