Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
by April Genevieve Tucholke
Series: Between #1
Published: 15 August 2013
Dial, Hardcover, 360 pages
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.
If I were to sum up Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea in a word, it would be odd. The atmosphere – odd. The characters – odd. The plot – you guessed it, odd. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, I would say a little of both. However, something I definitely adored in this book was the writing style. Mysterious, atmospheric and enchanting, it was perfect for a gothic novel.
Unfortunately, the characters did not appeal to me as much as the writing did. Lets start with River. I understand that many would probably like his mysteriousness and bad boy aura but personally, I have a very low tolerance for bad boys. When I do tolerate them, they’ve got to be really, really well developed and sadly, River wasn’t a very well written bad boy. I found him suave and smooth to the point of being slimy and honestly, the pace of Violet and his relationship was just ridiculously fast.
In most situations like these, I would start hurling insults in my head at the protagonist but in this case, I did not. Why? I had no idea if Violet seemed to lack a backbone because she doesn’t have one in the first place or if River was messing with her head. River had this creepy ability to sometimes manipulate others’ perceptions, making them hallucinate to his will. Other than that, Violet was a pretty eccentric character. Although intriguing, she was at times hard to relate to and some of her choices made her look annoyingly gullible.
On the other hand, a character I liked a lot was Neely. I won’t mention the part he played in the story in order to avoid spoilers but out of all the characters in the book, he was the most realistic. Despite his tendencies to get into fights easily, he was such a grounded and responsible person, always looking out for his loved ones too.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea was quite an unpredictable read, plot-wise. It’s the sort of paranormal novel that can’t really be neatly categorized as compared to books about werewolves, vampires and other creatures of myth. The supernatural aspect basically revolved around River’s gift and how it affected the lives of the people around him.
I felt the plot could’ve been improved as it sometimes got a little boring. The pace should have been faster so the suspense created by all the creepy occurrences would not die out between each major event. However, April Genevieve Tucholke did amazing at hinting who the true villain of the story was. It was as if she planted little seeds throughout the story that readers would notice seeming out of place but think them too subtle to really matter.
All in all, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea was a pretty average book. The creep factor was slightly lacking as compared to other gothic novels I’ve read but it does have potential to bloom into a fascinating story. I’m still deciding on whether or not to continue with this series but if you like a little spookiness and bad boys, I would recommend you to read this.