Monday, July 29, 2013

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Title: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Series: Between, book #1
Publisher: Dial
Publication Date: August 15, 2013
Source: ARC from publisher for review
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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.

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.

Rating:   photo 5-1.png

About the author:

April Genevieve Tucholke is a full-time writer who digs classic movies, redheaded villains, big kitchens, and discussing murder at the dinner table. She and her husband—a librarian, former rare-book dealer, and journalist—live in Oregon. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is her first novel.

Find April:

WebsiteGoodreads | Twitter


  1. OH MY GOD I cannot wait for this book! I've seen quite a few mixed reviews on this one but I just don't care - it sounds so deliciously creepy and just like my type of book.

    I love that you mentioned the moral dilemma of liking the characters. Books that can make you think and question yourself are the best kinds of book.

    Great review :)

    Pretty Deadly Reviews

  2. This is always the best feeling: when you are highly anticipating a book and it delivers. This sounds SO good and I just love the cover :D


  3. I only skimmed your review because I just preordered the book and will read it anyway and I'm super-wary of spoilers, but I'm so glad you gave it 5 stars and that despite (or because of?) everything, you liked River! My expectations for this book are really high and I just hope they will be met the way yours were :)

  4. Ooh, yay! It has your approval! :) I think my reaction to getting this one would be the very same, I am so excited to read this one. It's also great that it makes the reader question things and is thought-provoking. Rive kind of reminds me how I feel about the Darkling!

    Alise @ Readers in Wonderland

  5. Yay, Jen! You enjoyed it! Truthfully I found that I couldn't completely jump on board ship with River/Violet because of what happened and River himself. You make a good point about his power, and how he uses it, and how that fits with age; I hadn't really thought of that--only mostly that he's not the typical romantic interest and that I would've loved to see him play villain too. I wasn't a huge fan of the intro of that one guy, but otherwise yesyesyesyes to the writing and the characters and Violet and the setting and YES the sequel title, because even if that guy makes me feel squicky about later, that title and the ending and the plot twists and writing will keep me coming back for more. (Oooh newly minted audio person me is totally imagined how creepy and fantastic this book must sound on audio then O.o).

  6. I'm so glad this book's getting positive reviews. I pre-ordered it 2 weeks ago and I can't wait to read it.

  7. I've been so excited for this one too. The sequel sounds intriguing. I wasn't sure if this was going to be a series. River sounds like an enticing and complicated character which are always the best ones. Part evil and part good does make you wonder if you should like them or not but I think it makes it all the more fun.

  8. Oh, I have to read this now. I love complex moral questions, and I hope to see that complexity in Rivers' character!

    Great review!

  9. The book seems a bit creepy and weird . . . so of course I would love it. I tend to really like those ones.

  10. I absolutely loved this book. It was JUST what I needed when I read it. Cannot wait to read more from this author!


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