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 guest house 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.
I was drawn to this book because of the cover. I saw it on someone’s “Showcase Sunday” right before it released. I remember reading an interview with the author about how she asked her editor for a title driven cover, and I hadn’t thought about an authors input like that before. You hear about authors not having much say in the cover design, but I think when it comes to the font/title, it puts a little bit of a creative spin on it. Most book titles are just on the cover, but some are fancy and fun or straight-laced and basic, and Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is definitely the former.
Our main character, Violet White, grew on me. At first, I didn’t have a good impression of her as the narrative consisted of her reminiscing her dead grandmother, Freddie, and how she wanted to be just like her. The estate she and her brother, Luke, live in, the Citizen, belonged to Freddie their and it remains very much in her style and tastes, which Violet constantly refers to. There was even this repetitive use of the word “damn,” to describe a lot of things, just because Freddie used it a lot. Thankfully it didn’t continue the rest of the novel or that would have been a definite deal breaker.
The story focuses on the life of Violet and Luke, living alone in the Citizen in a small town and just starting to feel the burden of being poor, having come from a wealthy old money family. Violet puts an ad in the local paper/ads to rent out their guesthouse behind the estate, and within a short time, she had a taker. In comes River West, our main character’s love interest. While the insta-love felt rushed, like they always do, I enjoyed it because it felt comfortable. They were both comfortable around each other from the beginning, and it took Violet a while to realize that her comfort wasn’t her own doing. More on this later…
Living on the top of the hill on the cliff over the ocean, Violet and Luke are isolated from town, just as you would expect them to feel isolated as the children of absent parents from a previously wealthy family. The absence of parents in this story upset me because it felt like it was just so the plot could continue without the hindrance of having anyone else around. They were brought up every once in a while, but it was only to compare the two siblings and their shared love of art and painting. On the other hand, I can see how the absent parents portray how it may feel to children whose parents are around but are just as absent when they aren’t involved in their children’s lives. I’m not sure what Tucholke wanted us to believe about her parents, especially from their return at the end of the novel having almost no significance in my impression.
River West is believed to be the title character, the devil. Violet only has what she remembers Freddie telling her about the devil to compare to anything that scares her, and while she is drawn to River, it also scares her. As you would expect in a novel, once he shows up, weird things start happening and it becomes Violet’s mission to find the truth. For the sake of not ruining the plot twist, I did enjoy the twists and the different characters that showed up more towards the second half of the book, but I felt it took Tucholke too long to get there. I would have liked more involvement with later characters than earlier ones, and I’m hoping that’s what she’ll give us in book 2.
The romance in this story always threw me a little. It was quite mature at times, and while a lot of those feelings are explained in the end, it felt like it was a little too neatly tied up. I wanted more from River, and I think Tucholke intended to keep him just out of our reach because he could go anywhere from that ending, and I’m excited to see which direction she sends him.
THE ENDING. Gah. I will not ruin the ending, but it was surprising, dramatic, astounding, confusing, terrifying, maddening, and unjustified. The fact that there isn’t a set pub date for the sequel in 2014 is driving me crazy and considering the first novel was released just months ago in August means it might be an end of the summer release. I cannot deny that I was feeling the feels when I finished this book and I doubt they’ll go away until I get my hands on the next installment.
I recommend this novel for 16+, as it has a few mature scenes, some mild violence scenes, and ONE HECK OF AN ENDING.
My Over All Rating: