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.
-Summary from Amazon.com
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is an entertaining tale of the supernatural. I’ve heard it billed as a “gothic thriller” and I totally agree with rumors that fans of Beautiful Creatures will enjoy it. It has similar characterizations and an underlying storyline that screams “forbidden love.”
I honestly didn’t have many complaints about this book. I appreciated Violet’s ambiguous feelings towards River, even after she suspects he’s pretty a pretty shifty dude, not to mention potentially supernaturally evil. She has a very strong attraction to him, and has a hard time separating those feelings from the side of her that knows that River has done some pretty despicable things. Her emotions flip flop at least a dozen times throughout the book, and I’ve got to say I like that dynamic a lot better than teenage book characters who say, “I know you’re evil, but I believe you have a good heart and I’ll always love you for that.” NO. Let’s be honest here. I’m sure we’ve all crushed on at least one person we knew was trouble, but that probably didn’t stop us from wanting and hating that person all at the same time. Violet’s feelings towards River capture that back-and-forth fluctuation perfectly. As for the rest of the characters, I liked them all very much and found their attitudes and reactions to be very real. And I will say this for Tucholke… the girl created one incredibly hateable villain.
My only true gripe with the story is learning that Violet’s artist parents abandoned her and her twin brother alone in their gigantic, ramshackle mansion for the summer while they’re off painting in Europe. Really?! I guess that will go under the category of “Absent Parents in YA Lit.” It makes it easier for the teens to run the town, but it’s not terribly believable or relatable. I don’t know very many teenagers who’s parents literally disappear and don’t keep in touch with their kids for three months. Don’t take this as bashing, because I don’t mean it to be. It’s just one those things that stuck out at me and made me go, “hmm…”
The book was well paced with a perfect blend of suspense and intensity. I found it incredibly compelling and was eager to keep reading to see what would happen next (and for someone who doesn’t dig supernatural fiction, that’s saying something!) The writing isn’t terribly complex, but I don’t know that it would be suitable to reluctant or struggling readers simply due to Tucholke’s writing style. But if you’re in the mood for something that will keep you guessing, this is a great story with some awesome twists and turns. The last few chapters are fast paced nail biters for sure.
Even though Between the Devil has a satisfying conclusion, there is room for a second book to follow the characters and their continuing story. Goodreads confirmed it for me earlier today, as the site has this book listed as #1 in the Between series. Whatever that means. I guess we’ll have to wait and find out! As content as I was with this book as a whole, I’d definitely be eager to read more about Violet, River, Luke, Sunshine, and the all other characters from the town of Echo.
OFFICIAL RATING: 8/10
I received my copy of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke as a digital eGalley from NetGalley. I was not given any form of payment or endorsement for my review, including alcohol or cupcakes, nor was I kidnapped and held at gunpoint.