Saturday, August 3, 2013

Review: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Review: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Release date: August 15th, 2013
Publisher: Dial
Series: #1 in the Between series (duology? Maybe?)
Source: Borrowed from Lili
Rating: The most beautiful prose I've read in ages, a fabulous setting, and creeeeepiness galore.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between, #1)

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.

The cover: LOOK AT THE PRETTTYYYY that font makes my soul happy (though shouldn't the cover be... I don't know, blue? Just me? Okay). It's creepy and romantic and lyric, and it makes you wary, just like the novel.

The story: I pay very close attention to the reviews of my blogger friends, and they weigh very heavily on my reading choices. I don't like going into a book without knowing something about what I'm getting into and without knowing other people's opinions. Two of my favorite blogger friends read BtDatDBS before I did. Ashleigh over-the-moon, all-the-stars, best-book-evah loved it; Christina barely finished. So the question was, would I be an Ashleigh? Or a Christina?

Well, thank the Lord and smack the Devil (I am pretty sure this is not a real expression anywhere on Earth), I'm an Ashleigh. I LOVED this book. I loved the haunting, misty qualities of the prose. I loved the creepy-ass mind-WTFery. I loved the old-fashioned seaside town and the crumbling old mansion and the fact that parts of it scared the pants off me. The story centers on Violet, a seventeen-year-old girl who lives with her twin brother in a dilapidated manor house called Citizen Kane in the town of Echo. There's an unreal aspect to everything that happens, like it's a very stylized movie, or like this story could be set anytime in the last forty years or so. Violet and Luke's artist parents have been in Paris for months and months. Money is running out and the Citizen is falling down around them, so Violet rents out her guesthouse to the first handsome stranger who comes calling: the handsome and exceptionally untrustworthy River.

My God, can Tucholke turn a phrase. The whole book has this sleepy, hypnotic, timeless quality to it, like you're sitting in the sun and your brain is going all melty. I couldn't read this straight through because of it. I had to keep taking breaks and blinking and shaking my head to get back to reality. Much like River, this book draws you in with it gorgeous imagery and languished luxury. You know you're being tricked, much like Violet does, and you're not sure how, but you like it.

This book is very much an atypical paranormal romance. There's not much I can say, because this is the kind of book you DO NOT want to be spoiled for you, for good or for bad. I can see some people despising the grand reveal at the end, and I get why, but it scared the bujeezus out of me. (Especially what happened to Sunshine. Good God, was that creepy as all get out.) But the relationship between River and Violet is a tricky one, since he's clearly messing with her mind and the minds of all the people in Echo. He's a vindictive little shit, to be honest, but he's still appealing, especially when Violet realizes just how shitty he is. And then more things happen and AHHH. I can't say.

At first I thought I would despise one hundred percent of the characters, but I didn't, even though they all had flaws. Violet is stodgy and old-fashioned and strange, but she desperately wants to reconnect with her brother, and she makes all kinds of obscure literary references, and that I can fully support. Her brother, Luke, is a misogynist jerkface, but I grew to care about him quite a bit. Neely just may be my favorite character of the bunch. And River... well, I can't actually talk about River, because the enigma of River is the central mystery of the story. But I can see opinions of him going either way (see: Christina's review which is MASSIVELY SPOILER-IFFIC SO BE WARNED). All I can say is I loved his character, and I loved the direction Tucholke decided to go in for him. He is nothing like a typical YA good boy or bad boy. Whether he's really the Devil or not... YOU WILL SEE.

Then there are the creepy bits. Confession: I am a MARSHMALLOW. I hate scary movies more than anything on this earth. They are actual torture for me. But I love scary books, though I'm not sure why. Between isn't scary in a slasher way, but in a disturbing, sneaks-up-on-you, what-is-this-fuckery kind of way. There is a body count, but mostly there are haunting images made ten times as haunting by the setting of Echo. Cemeteries, witch-burnings, men-turned-monsters who live in caves... you name it. Shudder. So good.

While I can see this book not working for some people, it TOTALLY worked for me. I was intoxicated right along with Violet. I totally let the Devil hold my hand, and you know what? It was worth it. BRING ON BOOK TWO!


  1. Why is no one bothered by the things that bothered me? I'm happy you're all able to love, it but I know that every single one of you would normally hate what happened in the last fifty pages and I am so confused. Oh well, I guess it was just my turn to be the hater so everyone could enjoy. *pouts*

  2. I'm so glad to read a great review of this book. I'm so excited to read it, but I've read both good and bad reviews. Definitely going to try it now!

  3. Yay! This is the book I am most excited for this month, so I'm happy to see you loved it. Hope I do too!

  4. This book needs a home in my hands! This seriously sounds like the type of book that I would rave about after finishing! Just like you have!

  5. I have a feeling I will be wheeling, dealing, and not-above-stealing (but not really) to get this book in my hands. I AM IN NEED OF IT.

    I'm glad you liked it, Gillian! I love how you described the feel/vibe to it. And River sounds QUITE polarizing. I MUST MEET HIM.

  6. I'm SO glad you enjoyed it! I was really looking forward to this one, but wound up backing out of a blog tour because of all the negative reviews I had heard. ..haha, kinda wish I had gone with my gut feeling now! :)


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