If I had to choose one book to represent who I am, it would be Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Old crumbling mansions by the seaside, an Ouija board scene, classic movie references--and I felt so close to the main character. She was seriously just a blonde version of myself. She spends all her free time reading, wears vintage clothing, and spends time in their old home's attic, exploring and finding hidden treasures. (My house doesn't have an attic but I wish it did. But maybe you gathered that from my blog's title.) But not only do our main character and I enjoy doing similar activities, but our personalities were the same and everything else, with the exception that she likes coffee and I only drink tea.
I've seen mixed feelings toward this novel, but I thought it was very well written. The imagery was absolutely wonderful. As I progressed through it's pages, I could almost feel the chill from the ocean seeping into me as the story grew darker and darker. I really wanted to live in the ambiance that the narrative created. And I think the characters were just as well developed. I've already stated how much I love the main character, but her brother, her friend Sunshine, and River especially, all had layers to them. And moving onto River--where do I start. I was feeling everything that Violet was feeling when she was feeling it. I assumed that River was the "Devil" that was being referenced in the title, but when he showed up with his vintage suitcases, I didn't care. And neither did Violet.
When it came to the plot, I didn't really know what to expect. I gave up trying to guess because I knew I wouldn't be able to get it right. But what I loved so much about the story was how everything came together. Half way through the novel, there were so many side stories and comments being thrown around that not only did I forget some of them, the rest I thought were just background information. Until they came into play later on. And the ending. I should have been able to predict some of it, but like I said, I thought some of it wasn't important. The ending was super creepy and very well written. Let's just say that someone shows up who might just be the Devil himself, he was so evil. And the explanation for why, I thought was plausible, which doesn't always happen when it comes to villains. They all have reasons for their actions and flaws just like everyone else.
Overall, I really enjoyed Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. I don't think it's for everyone (my mom was kind of creeped out that I enjoyed it as much as I did), but I am a sucker for gothic ambiance and creeptastic villains. I am really looking forward to book two and I really hope it retains the same feeling that Between did.
BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA is a dark and beautiful story set in a small town by the sea. Violet White and her twin brother Luke are left alone in their family mansion while their painter parents visit Europe. To make some money, Violet rents out the guesthouse and River West moves in. Violet is awkward in a cute, quirky way, but she oozes confidence she doesn’t realise she has. I liked her a lot. I struggled to decide how I felt about the mysterious River right up until the end, which was nice and how I think the author intends him to be read, so I won’t say any more on him. This book had me under its spell from page one—the moody atmosphere, the small town setting, the gothic scenery, the constant sense of unease. And the artistic references were right up my street! The whole book really did seem like a work of art in itself. This was something close to perfect for me. The twist blew me away. I thought it was faultless. It’s the kind of book that makes you keep reading “just one more chapter” before bed, then reluctantly stopping several chapters later because you can’t keep your eyes open. The kind of book that stays in your mind when you’re not reading and long after you’ve finished entirely. Stunning debut.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
ARC received from Penguin Teen
Release Date: 8-15-2013
Reviewed by Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say: Enchanting, Grotesque, and Utterly Beautiful
Have you ever been completely swept away by the magic of a book? I mean, the kind of swept away that leaves you breathless and aching and dying for more? Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea was that book for me. Reading it was like hearing a noise in the dead of the night and getting up to check it out. It’s the fear that lingers after looking into the deepest recesses of the dark and finding nothing, but just knowing, something is there. Lurking. Biding its time. April Genevieve Tucholke’s world is both monstrous and beautiful, with whispers in the dark and monsters in the shadows and stolen kisses in the night. I’ve never read anything like it. Her world has unequivocally and irrevocably placed a shadow on mine, and I can only dream about finding myself, once more, caught between her Devil and the raging sea.
From page 1, I felt completely and utterly immersed in April’s world, and for the hours it took me to read it, I wanted to be nowhere else. Even after I was done, I wanted to plunge head first back into the tumultuous world of secrets and devils. I could smell the sea salt lingering in the humid air, feel the cool breeze wafting in from the cliffs, and feel the thumping in my heart that accompanies unbridled fear. I loved the picturesque town that April built—it was enchanting and dangerous—like the imaginations of Bram Stoker and Emily Bronte and William Faulkner merged together to create a quietly deceptive town with its own brand of madness. I could picture every part of it, from the decaying mansion on the edge of the sea, down to the crunch of the rocks on the paths into town. Wild and treacherous and full of darkness, the town of Echo is truly a masterpiece of all things that go bump in the night.
I absolutely adored Violet, our main character. She was off-kilter and perceptive, and I loved how she could sit outside in the sun and read Hawthorne and quote poems and see right into someone’s soul. I felt her turmoil and her desires, and I loved watching her struggle with her own sense of right and wrong. I loved watching her come to her own conclusions about River, and more than that, I loved how she pushed aside truths for her gut instincts. I felt each emotion as it poured out of her. I loved her strange sense of fashion (wearing her dead grandmother’s younger clothes), and how she didn’t care about what anyone else thought. She was strong and confident, but allowed herself to be scared when she really needed to be scared. I loved everything about her—she is definitely a heroine that I will long remember.
And then there’s River West. His name just rolls of the tongue with spice, but you know he’s one of those spices that will leave your mouth burning for hours. He’s hot and cold, up and down, and the secret that he holds is definitely a doozy. But with a name like River and a smile that could light up the night sky, who cares about deadly and terrifying secrets? I loved River because he is one of those perfect gothic men that walk a fine line between good and evil, but when it comes straight down to it, you just don’t know which side he favors. He reminded me of Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights because he could be the cruelest of cruel with a smile on his face, the Devil in sheep’s clothing. Yet, there is something about him that makes you want to wrap your arms around him and never let him go. He’s the bad guy that you can’t help but fall in love with, he’s the troubled guy that can’t be fixed, he’s the guy your mother warned you about. He’s the Devil that holds your hands and kisses your cheeks and makes you want everything and nothing and then everything again. He’s Trouble, and don’t you just love it?
I also loved April’s minor characters—Jack, Sunshine, and Neely. They each had a personality all their own, and they brought life to the story. They all fit perfectly into this gothic tale of love and horror, and none of them will escape unscathed. Watching their horrors and triumphs and losses was heart-breaking and amazing.
It’s been a while since a book was able to worm its way into my heart of hearts and put up for a permanent residence, but this book has done it. It’s the perfect mix of horror and romance, and I just couldn’t get enough of River and Violet. April’s writing was gorgeous in every aspect, and she brought the small town of Echo to both life and death. T.S. Eliot wrote, “Between the idea and the reality Between the motion and the act Falls the shadow.” I can’t help but think this describes April’s world perfectly—a place that exists between now and then, between love and hate, between life and death. A place that exists in the shadows, in the dark and with the Devil.
“There’s truths and then there’s truths, Violet. And some damn truths shouldn’t be spoken out loud, or the Devil will her, and then he’ll come for you. Amen.” PG 4
"People said time was relative, and I guess that explained why my life before River felt line a handful of seconds--brief flashes of small events that added up to very little. But my life after River was a three-volume saga. Epic. With quests and villains and murderers and unsatisfactory resolutions and people being torn apart." Pg 364
"River leaned over me, wrapped his fingers around my neck, and pulled my ear to his lips. "I'll make you dinner when I get back, and afterward, I'll be answering questions,' he whispered." Pg 132
I read this book in a day. While i didnt study for my math quarterly or do my homework. It was worth it. I really liked Violet. She was eccentric used the word damn and was overall a fantastic character. Violet lives with her brother in the falling apart mansion without her parents for they are out painting somewhere spending what is left of their money. To get money for food, Violet puts out an add to rent the guest house at the mansion. River West applies and with him he brings a whirl of passion, danger, and blood shed. It had me guessing until the ending that I did not see coming who was actually committing all of those murders and it will have you guessing too. Sunshine was also a loveable character/friend for Violet. The romance was okay... to be honest I would rather Violet be with Neely because River is annoying with all of his lies and instability.
I finally got around to reading this. After missing packages and faulty winnings, I ended up buying this book after I heard the sequel was being released soon.
And some things are definitely worth the weight.
It wasn't creepy like I expected it to be, it was more of a mind-warp; a confusing yet alluring book.
I hated Luke, and I don't think I will like him ever. Sunshine didn't really bring much to the plot, but she wasn't irritating to have around.
Violet was sometimes clueless and very naive.
It was those Redding brothers that made me stick around. (yes, even that creepy little one). Their life and back story was hella interesting. Once everything started to fall in place, I knew this wouldn't be a story I was soon to forget.
Perfect Creepiness with a less-than-perfect Ending
Opening Line: You stop fearing the Devil when you’re holding his hand.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea has many things I love: A distinct Gothic feel, a book chock-full of siblings(I love exploring sibling relationships), and enough creepiness to be nightmare-inducing. However, it also has plenty of tropes I hate: a insta-love relationship(which I was almost on board with because of the paranormal aspect until about 3/4 of the way through the book), and a trope I can’t really talk about for fear of spoilers but I HATE. The combination of these things–some of my greatest loves in literature, and some of my deepest hatreds–left me with quite a mixed feeling.
I will say that I loved the prose in Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Tucholke really captured the creepiness of the book with the way she turned words. It made my reading quite a visual experience, for which I wasn’t always glad. Even now I can still picture a cemetery full of children, all hunting for the devil, intent on a mission. The location and description is enough to sufficiently creep me out. I also thought that the timelessness that is so often present in this genre was captured well. It’s set in modern day, from what I can tell, but it could have easily been set twenty or thirty years ago. The huge, spooky house, the town flavor–I was a HUGE fan of the writing, even if not always the plot. Even though, I will say that Tucholke has a certain affinity for one of my least favorite often used phrases: “the crooked smile”. I counted it used at least four times in this book, and that’s the unofficial tally. It’s a small thing, but I’m still not a fan of that phrase.
The characters in this book aren’t likable, but they held my interest so much. Violet is insufferable at times, and pretentious, but her concern for her family and her relationship with her grandmother kept her grounded in at least “interesting narrator” territory. Not a character I’d like to emulate(I mean, she thought A Rose for Emily by Faulkner was a romantic story), but her characterization didn’t bother me too much. River is every bit the enigma presented in the summary–What’s he really doing? Is he who he says he is? Why are all these awful things happening? And while I did think these two central characters were 3-dimension, I can’t say I feel the same way about all the secondary characters. Violet’s brother, Luke, and neighbor, Sunshine, never quite seemed to have any depth to me. Towards the end, Luke was beginning to gain on this a little, but it was a bit too little, too late.
However, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s plot was it’s saving grace. The plot was amazing, and kept me turning pages and pages to figure out all the mysteries presented in the novel. The paranormal aspects, the Gothic atmosphere, all these things rolled up into one plot that was a heck of a page turner. I was waiting with baited breath until the big reveal.
Which is perhaps why the end was so disappointing to me. I can’t say without spoiling it, but the ending really did use one of my least favorite “plot reveals”. It’s the thing I’ve always thought of as a cliche, and I’ve really only enjoyed one book that used it. After that plot twist was revealed, the suspense was gone, because that cliche can only ever end one way. I really did enjoy Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, but the ending left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth.
Final Impression: I’m pretty split overall on Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. I really loved the writing style and most of the plot, but the characters weren’t the best and it did use some of my least favorite tropes. While some things didn’t bother me as much, I really disliked the ending for using what I consider an over-used cliche, especially in the genre. I enjoyed my reading of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, but it’s not a book I would recommend to someone who wants to start reading in the Gothic horror genre.
A break from vampires and werewolves, but a bit disappointing
Violet's ex-rich family isn't much help to her and her brother; after all, their parents ditched them for Europe. When a hot, mysterious stranger inquires about renting out the guesthouse..... Violet has no idea what is to come. Supposed sightings of the 'Devil', deranged children and a hallucinating friend is just the beginning, and all of it started when River moved into town.....
I was sort of disappointed when I read this book; I was expecting something a little darker, with more of the horror element to it. I wasn't afraid for the characters like I have been in some other books.
I also did not like Violet enough to care about her situation and found that she made choices which were not always fully explained and thus left me confused. I did not connect to her and I actually found myself feeling empathetic towards the "villain" of the story, instead.
However, this book was not entirely disappointing. While I love angels, vampires, werewolves, etc.., I appreciated that the author chose to deviate from the stereotypical YA novel's cut-out paranormal type characters and try something a little more original.
I recommend this book to those who are looking to expand away from the angels/vampires/werewolves in many of the other current YA books.
this review can also be found at http://fortheloveofbooksreviews.blogspot.ca/2015/03/between-devil-and-deep-blue-sea-by.html
A nice break from the vampire/werewolf trend in YA.
I have to confess that I’ve never read much of Gothic horror, but I thought I would give this book a try. Maybe the title seemed attractive or the blurb – I was quite eager to read it. By the end of it, I was thinking – what in heaven’s name did I just read? This book was high on the creep scale – and that is saying a lot from me, because I don’t mind dark books at all. The story is set in this idyllic coast-side town called Echo where Violet and her twin brother Luke live alone in their family’s mansion by the coast. They come from old money, and their parents are traveling all over fulfilling their artist fantasies, not caring that money is running out for the kids they own. So Violet, naive girl that she is, thinks of putting the guesthouse for rent and who comes a-knocking but River West, a mysterious (more like creepy) boy who just spouts lies out of his mouth. That doesn’t matter to Violet or Luke or their neighbor Sunshine (?) because they all become good friends with him within the first few hours itself. Violet is falling hard and fast for him, and you are left wondering – what the heck just happened. In fact, you would find yourself chanting that line through half the book because a lot of twists come – I don’t even know whether to find them ridiculous, because of River’s secret power. Yes, it has a touch of paranormal in that River can make people see things – kind of like compulsion. He calls it the glow and apparently it’s a family thing. (Someone needs to stop his dad ASAP). Thanks to this ‘glow’ he can waltz into their lives, manipulate them and generally cause all kinds of ‘wickedness’ around town, including making a man kill himself.
As for the characters, I don’t get any of them. I felt the writing left much to be desired, both with the story and the characters. Maybe it adds to the charm of the Gothic by letting nearly all the characters get sudden bursts of seriousness, but such moments get quite creepy. Violet, the main protagonist, is quite frustrating. She is naive and smart, but morbid and romanticizes nearly everything. River is quite smooth – strike that, all the guys in this book are smooth, grabbing hands and what not – and she can’t really stop herself from drowning in his lurve. Even after knowing the truth, she still can’t let go of her feelings – which may or may not be manufactured. I wouldn’t say I like her but I liked the way her character developed with it’s flaws. Sunshine – god, was she a cliche – the seductive best friend who gets nearly killed. But Brodie takes the cake on the most frustrating characters ever met – he is supposed to be this evil antagonist but in reality is just a psychopathic preteen drunk on power. About River, well, he was two murders short of joining Brodie on the insane side but mostly I didn’t like his character for the fact that nothing out of his mouth can be trusted. Also, he likes to manipulate people and is remorseless about it, no matter his resolution at the end. I also didn’t get what the deal was with the Devil sprinkled throughout the prose – since the evil is quite human in origin. I thought it was sinister in the way supernatural horror would be, but in some scenes it just feels like a slasher flick. The Gothic feel was certainly there but the characters are quite frustrating. The story was okay, but the writing was inclined more towards setting up the atmosphere rather than story progression. Overall, an okay book but I wasn’t just satisfied with it.