Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

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I received this book for free from Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue SeaBetween the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Series: Between #1
Published by Dial on August 15th 2013
Genres: Gothic, Paranormal, YA
Source: Penguin Canada
Buy on Amazon

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.

“Their faces were white. And grim. They glared at me, streaks of pale moonlight sweeping across their cheeks. They looked somber and gruesome and not like kids at all.”

Highly atmospheric, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is a haunting tale of evil and family secrets for every Gothic horror fan!

Although most Gothics are set in the past, this one is not, but it takes place in an old and tired estate which gives this book the perfect ancient feel. It’s not long before strange things start happening in Violet’s extremely small, quaint town, setting about hair-raising goosebumps that last throughout. First we get frightening legends about a kidnapper in a retired tunnel, then creepy kids walking around the cemetery claiming to have seen the devil, but it doesn’t end there; from start to finish, this book emits a great and eerie vibe that is all mostly due to the excellent way the setting comes alive. I could easily picture myself walking these trails, visualizing the cemetery, the collapsed, seemingly haunted tunnel, and the old house by the sea–Citizen Kane. Big enough to have its own name, this manor just vibrates with secrets and old family histories. I love how it gives you chills, yet it’s sort of a beautiful kind of dramatic mansion. I could hear the house creak and feel the drafts. It was fantastically brought to life. Great effort was equally spent conjuring the town it’s located in; Echo glows from its mystique. It is one of those tiny towns where everybody knows everyone else’s secrets, and if one family has done something gossip worthy, the whole town comes together and shuns them–which is what is happening to our protagonist, Violet.

Violet was brought up by artists who have since abandoned their kids for a life of paintings and museums in Paris. Consequently, living alone with her brother, Violet has becomes a little of a recluse, and I liked how eccentric this made her. She can often be seen wearing one of her grandmother’s old-fashioned dresses with no care of how odd she looks. But mostly, I respected her for doing everything she could to keep food on the table, putting the guest house up for rent for instance. She never expected to have anyone respond, let alone the young man who arrives. It’s not a secret that something is off with River from the start, especially when after his arrival things start getting… bizarre. His character left me in constant anxiety and intrigue, I knew not to trust him, yet, he has a way of charming you regardless. By their side stands Violet’s brother, Luke, and their neighbor, Sunshine, who add an amusing tone to the book. I enjoyed the brother/sister banter as much as I adored Luke’s protectiveness of Violet. It’s a great cast all-around with sometimes clashing, sometimes matching personalities that I thought perfect for the story. There are also a few new faces that come into the mix for some surprises down the road.

While it never became something I viewed as a negative aspect of the novel, the romance is one thing I was not completely crazy about. I simply didn’t emotionally connected to it as much as we were meant to. I do place some blame on the simple fact that I never truly trusted River–we were not expected to either. The mystery surrounding his character kept my heart at arm’s length, even – or particularly – when Violet was happy in her oblivion. Once his secret is out, I became leery for other reasons, not knowing exactly how much it affected Violet. It’s not an easy romance. It is, however, definitely unique. When you learn of the secret River bears, you’re made to be even more fascinated by him as we’re still left unsure of both his true nature and his agenda. How evil is he, exactly? Because there is clear evil out and about. From devil sightings to torture, some pretty disturbing images are generated from this book. Though I have read worse, it is not for the faint of heart.

Mysterious, ominous, and also incredibly gorgeous, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea–aka Book of Long Title–is a story for all Gothic horror lovers who crave a rich atmosphere and originality. The cover portrays it perfectly.

“I liked to cut her, just a little, and watch her cry. It passed the time.”


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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39 Responses to “Review: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea”

  1. Faye @ The Social Potato

    Man, I’m getting a lot of mixed reviews of this one. They all say the same thing, though: the book’s atmosphere and writing is well done, BUT the romance was horrible (or not as compelling). I’m still highly interested in reading this one, though, so I’m glad to know not all is lost in this novel 🙂 Thanks for the review!

    Faye @ The Social Potato

  2. Faye @ The Social Potato

    Man, I’m getting a lot of mixed reviews of this one. They all say the same thing, though: the book’s atmosphere and writing is well done, BUT the romance was horrible (or not as compelling). I’m still highly interested in reading this one, though, so I’m glad to know not all is lost in this novel 🙂 Thanks for the review!

  3. Megan (Ink Skies)

    I can’t look at that cover and NOT shiver. It’s just so beautiful, so I’m super happy that you gave this four stars! I love the sound of Violet – she sounds so different from other female protagonists in YA books. And the setting! Yeah, I kind of expected it to be set like a century ago, but I guess it works as well set in the present. Too bad about the romance, though. I think I might be able to overlook it, based on the other great things you described. And that quote. GASP.

    Amazing review as always, hon!

  4. Kayla

    The cover is so beautiful and haunting while the blurb just makes me want to reach into my computer and grab the book. I love the quote you included since it ABSOLUTELY makes me ITCH to read this book. Too bad about the romance, though.

  5. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    This looks really good, Giselle! I love the sound of the eerie atmosphere and I like that it’s set in the present day. It makes it quite unique. It’s a shame about the romance though. I’m glad it didn’t bother you too much though.
    Lovely review! 🙂

  6. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I”ve wanted to read this one since I saw the gorgeous cover. Love that it lived up to expectations. Violet sounds like a great character — I love that she’s eccentric and does her own thing. I think I’d be wary of River, too. Never good when “things” start to happen as soon as a character arrives.

  7. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    This sounds awesome!! I love that the relationship between brother and sister seems very real with their banter, but yet the protectiveness too. River sounds interesting. I just got this one as a trade so I am really looking forward to reading it!! Fabulous review babe!!

  8. Lee

    I’ve been dying to read this one. I love gothic stories and this sounds perfect. And the cover is beautiful.

  9. ShootingStarsMag

    Ooh wow, that last quote jus makes me curious! I wonder what it’s referring too…!!!

    This sounds pretty great though. I’m glad to read that you enjoyed it, and while the romance didn’t really WORK, it wasn’t a huge negative for the book overall.

    Love that the house is called Citizen Kane too. 😉


  10. Siiri

    For some reason this gave me this kinda.. um. historical vibe. I have only read one gothic story and that was Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink. I haven’t read the second one yet, but the first one was really good, in my opinion, so I think I’d like to read something gothic again. However, I’m not big on horror stories lol. I’m a BIG BIG coward 😀 I’m glad you enjoyed this though, even if the romance part wasn’t exactly your cup of tea. Btw, I’m probably the only person who isn’t a fan of that cover -.-

  11. Christianna

    I need this book in my hands so that I can read it and love it and read it more! Seriously, it sounds like my perfect book. Here’s hoping that when I get it I love it just as much as you did!

  12. Jenni

    OMG your quote! So creepy. Yeah that is all that I have read of this review because I will be reading this one very soon. I absolutely love this cover and it sounds like one that I am going to like very much! VERY MUCH! SO EXCITED!

  13. Molli





    GISELLE. I can’t even begin to express to you how much I LOVE this review. The Gothic-loving geek in me was SHIVERING at how creepy this one sounds. I’ve pined for it for so long but haven’t really read any reviews yet. So yours is…perfect. You went into what you liked, you SOLD me on DEVIL. Gah. Great review, love.

  14. Kris

    This book sounds as chilling and intriguing as the cover. I love the sound of the eerie setting, and I also love how close Luke and Violet as siblings. This sounds like a book I’d be interested in. Thanks for the review!

    Kris @Imaginary Reads

  15. Jackie

    I want to read this book so much!!!! Great review(: I do hope I like the romance….The setting sounds to creepy and just..ahh! I want this!

  16. Jen

    Girl look at you with the new WordPress design! 😉
    Anyways, this book sounds really fantastic! I’m so pleased to hear that the Gothic setting was done very well; it seems like the author was able to portray it very vividly and atmospherically! I think I would like all of the characters in this book; there’s a good balance between complementing and opposing characters! I’d love to check this book out soon, wonderful review, Giselle! 🙂

  17. Bella's Shelf

    The cover is gorgeous, but this type of book is hit or miss with me. I adore the hell out of gothic style writing, but its not all good or gothic for that matter.
    I picked up a book that was labeled “southern gothic” and was so let down!
    I will def look into this one though..

  18. Sassy @ My Never Ending Pile

    Gah this book sounds so good! I’m a big fan of gothic horror, though I’m too much of a chicken to read it at night when I’m home alone. Another thing I, along with most readers, am a fan of is a rich atmosphere and great world-building. Put these things together and you’ve got a story I’m just dying to get my hands on. Loved the review! 🙂

  19. Shannelle (The Tracery of Ink)

    That last quote, at the end? It was killer.

    Now I’m kinda wishing I got approved for it Netgalley. But I did get one of the friendliest rejection letters ever for this. :3 never knew a letter like that was possible. But the Gothic part just makes me want to squirm around and wish I did get approved. Here’s a genre I haven’t read before and I’m interested, and sadly, I didn’t get approved.

    P.S. Your Read More button didn’t work, and I clicked on the title so I could read this.
    P.P.S. Man, you have design skills. I love your bloglovin’ button.

    • Giselle

      Oh thanks I will fix the read more button. It was working 2 days ago but it’s not anymore! Weird! Lol.

      And they were rude? Gah. I got this one from Penguin in Canada but I’ve heard they’re hard to get approved with their netgalley books. I think I’ve only ever got approved once on there for their book. But it’ll be out soon anyways 🙂

  20. Annie

    “not an easy romance” – now you have me intrigued!

    I’ve been looking forward to this title.

    I hope the romance bits work better for me, I’m not sure if I’ll mind a (possibly) bad hero or not, but I intend to find out!

  21. Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books

    I cannot wait to read this novel myself! It’s true that most Gothic novels do take place in older time periods (I love ones that take place in 17th/18th century Britain), but I also love more “modern” ones, like Daphne duMarillier’s Rebecca. The main potential problem I see myself having with this book is that everything that is needed to create the right setting (isolated children, wearing old clothes, small town setting) has the risk of feeling a little too contrived and convenient for me. If I feel as though Tuckolke has written the story convincingly, however, this shouldn’t be a problem. Wonderful review, Giselle! This sounds like a deliciously creepy read!

  22. Aman

    Oh man! I really didn’t think this was something for me, but I loved the way you described the setting. I can picture it too and it creeps me out. I might have to check it out now. Wonderful review, Giselle. And what a freaking quote!

  23. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows

    Man,I LOVE how the atmosphere sounds in this one! It’s definitely the major selling point for me because I think the love-story might annoy me a little but I guess it all depends on my mood >.< I'm kinda wondering now if the gory stuff might be a little much for me…but I think I'll just strap on a pair and see for myself bahaha Great review!

  24. Alexa Y.

    I really like the sound of this book! While Gothic isn’t a genre that I’m particularly fond of, I do enjoy a Gothic novel when it’s well done. This one definitely sounds like something I’d want to read, and not just because I like long titles 😉

  25. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    For a moment, I was totally on board with this book (minus the characterization which just wasn’t there for me), but the creepery was so awesome. The Gothic stuff was great, and then it was all ROMANCE and I was like blergh. Then it was like JK MIND CONTROL and I was like ooooh. Then it was like JK JK ROMANCE and I was like nooooooo whyyyyyyy. I just wasn’t able to get past that and the stupid twist. Still, if I hear that the romance stuff isn’t a thing in the next one, I might continue. :/