Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Series: Between, book #1
Publication Date: August 15, 2013
Source: ARC from publisher for review
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea was one of my mostly highly anticipated titles this year. I screamed like the fangirl that I am when an ARC arrived on my doorstep. I know that practically all of the reviewers I trust have devoured this book, and yet I made myself wait till now to read it. I wanted to forget everything I'd read about the novel so that I could go into it with a clear head. And it absolutely lived up to my expectations.
Far and above everything else, I think my favorite aspect of this novel was the moral questions it asked of the reader. River is deliciously devilish, and it would serve Violet well not to believe a word he utters, but his actions are not always those of malice. Give a boy a god-like power and expect him to become addicted to what he can do and trust that he will take it too far. Except, is it morally and ethically wrong if his actions are those of retribution on souls who've committed great misdeeds? If it wasn't his place to judge the wrong-doers, why was he given this power?
Violet knows better than to give her heart to this boy. Even before she knew what River was capable of, she was wary of him. And yet...there's something about him that draws her in. Vi resists her feelings for River, especially once she seriously has to consider how evil he might be, but her will is no match for River's magnetism. That is, until the truth of that magnetism is revealed, and then we're all left wondering whether any of it was real.
Throughout this novel, I continued to question why I was okay with River as the love interest. He is not inherently evil, but his actions do speak loud and clear. Knowing what he has done, what he will probably continue to do, how is it that I still ship this romance between him and Violet? I think it speaks to the beautiful prose that I can almost accept River and his sense of justice, no matter how misbegotten it is.
The setting of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea gives this novel a very gothic feel, with the White's extravagant house -- named the Citizen Kane by their deceased grandmother -- on a cliff, the crashing sea below it, and a graveyard full of children fending off the devil. Very macabre indeed. The White children are isolated from the rest of the town, left on their own at the Citizen over the summer while their parents travel abroad. Yet, Violet is even further ostracized, partly by choice. She doesn't fit in, and her brother makes every attempt to ensure she knows it.
Despite initially despising Luke for how he treated Violet, he did grow on me. And it was nice to see River give him his comeuppance a time or two. All of the characters in this novel seemed a bit morally ambiguous in the beginning, but each endeared themselves to me in one way or another...eventually. (Well, except that one guy.) Even Frankie, dead as she was, was an ever-present facet in Violet's life, and I found myself wishing for more than just her old letters and clothing to get to know her by.
I wanted to love this book so badly, and I'm relieved and ecstatic that the story was everything I'd hoped it would be. The eccentric dialogue and the easy banter pulled me into this little circle of strangeness from the very first page, and I'm excited to see where the author takes the story in the next installment, especially after seeing the title: Between the Spark and the Burn. I'm officially creeped out by what this title implies, but I'm also very, very intrigued. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is a stellar debut, one sure to conjure up its fair share of nightmares.