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):
- Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh for old money and destructive families.
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt for murder, mayhem, secrets, lies and bored, privileged youth. Plus twins.
- The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin for the creepy paranormal aspects and for asking many of the same questions.
*THANK YOU, Penguin! This Advance, Uncorrected Proof was provided in exchange for an honest review.