Feb 29, 2016

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

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.

Upon learning about the Penguin Teen Author tour coming to my city later in March, I decided to check out some of the authors’ books and April Genevieve Tucholke was one I really wanted to read after enjoying her short story in Slasher Girls and Monster Boys! So naturally, I started at the beginning with Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. A book I stayed away from before because of a few not so happy reviews, but when I saw it at Half Price Books, I decided, why not? And I found I quite enjoyed it!

Violet and her twin brother, Luke have been living in their parents’ old mansion completely on their own for the past few months. Their parents are artists, and besides somehow lack the parental gene, were traveling in Europe for their art. And in the meantime, Violet and Luke had run out of money to keep themselves alive, so Violet decided to rent out the guest cottage on their property and shortly after, a guy around her age comes to rent the place out, in cash, up front. So naturally, accepting the strange boy called River into their home (sort of) was a no brainer.

River was a very interesting and mysterious character. I’ve had my share of mysterious characters, especially guys in books. But he would definitely make the top ten for the moment! Everything about this boy was strange, the way he dressed, the way he spoke, some of his odd little habits that just made you raise an eyebrow. And all the while I found myself contemplating who or what he could be. I definitely wasn’t expecting the answer, which I will naturally not divulge in here!

Violet was another odd sort of character, but in the normal odd sort of way, if that makes sense! She was the quiet girl, intelligent in her own right. She had a fondness for old things, especially things left behind by her deceased grandmother. Her brother Luke was a tool. I mean, I know siblings don’t generally get along, but he was downright nasty and cruel to her for the most part. Though as the story moves along, and the eerie secretiveness grew stronger, you start to see rare moments of niceness from Luke. It almost had me getting suspicious until eventually I could see he was genuine in this sudden change.

Since the parents are totally absent in this book, it’s not surprising to see these teens acting out or in Violet’s case, taking on levels of maturity that she shouldn’t have to so early in life. But I must admit I really enjoyed watching their characters grow!

Now for the mysterious bits! There’s a lot of weird things happening in this sleepy little town! Children going missing, odd things happening that don’t appear to make any sense, and even murders! Yes, the bodies are dropping left and right in this one! Okay, it wasn’t that many, but it was far more than you would expect! Which to mean, more than one is a lot! That means some serious work is going down and that’s definitely the case here.

Naturally, Violet starts to suspect River of these things. Because it makes perfect sense. New boy to town, who’s kind of weird and mysterious. Then the creepy and scary stuff happens, why wouldn’t she think they were connected? And naturally, things run far deeper than she could ever imagine!

I really liked this one! Far more than I thought I would, when the description mentions “contemporary”. While there is definitely a contemporary setting, things are far more weird and creepy and mysterious—yes I am overusing this word, but it’s warranted because I never quite pinned down any of these strange happenings—for this to be just any old contemporary read!

Between the Devil and Deep Blue Sea is the epitome of mysterious! It’s strange and eerie and nothing is ever as it seems. I highly recommend this one if you like a read filled with mystery and secrets. It’s not your cold-cut mystery read of whodunit, but a variation! It was quite fascinating and had me riveted throughout!

At times, the pacing might be a touch slow where you’re not sure where things are going. Our heroine does a lot of doubting and questioning herself and those around her, but it all seems to fit well with the story when you look at it from afar! The ending was pretty jaw-dropping with an added twist that takes things to a new level! And now I am left eager for that sequel!! So I’m off to go buy that! Wished HPB had had that too, because you know I would’ve bought and binged these both! Now I must wait for it to arrive after I order it and that will leave me reading something new in between! The pain of waiting never ends for the reader! (LOL!)

Overall Rating 4.5/5 stars


  1. Yay!! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! I totally agree with everything you've said. It was a really mysterious and pretty strange book. The pacing was also a little slow at times, but it seemed right somehow. It was a slow and meandering story and I totally loved it AND River! Great review :D

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

  2. I really really liked this book! I thought the writing was so crisp and lovely, I could smell that ocean air! And it was super mysterious and creepy. Too creepy at times. But I enjoyed the mystery and the story, I'm glad you liked it too. It was definitely a strange book! I didn't love the sequel as much but it's worth reading.


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