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.Between 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
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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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