Title: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Duology: Between, Book 1

Author: April Genevieve Tucholke

Published: August 15, 2013

Publisher: Dial/Penguin

Pages: 368

Source: borrowed

Goodreads Summary: 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.

Average Goodreads Rating (as of 07/27/2013): 4.16

  • I was fortunate enough to have my friends Michelle and Stacee –both of which were able to give this novel higher [TOP SHELF] praise than I was– tag-team this review with me.

**Special Note:** Michelle (@bookchellef), from the lovely Dark Faerie Tales blog, provided the ARC of this title for our reviewing purposes. All quotes and opinions will be of this version and not from the published edition.

♥  Initial First Reactions & Rating:

  • Stacee: 5/5 stars for me. I also added it to my “will forever re-read” and “this boy is mine, I have proof” shelves. My first thought after finishing was “when is book 2 out and what horrible things do I need to do in order to get a copy?” Devil was a recommendation from my friend, Colleen, who had gone to an author’s dinner with April. I looked it up and as soon as I read the blurb that said it was a must read for fans of Mara Dyer, I was sold.  I think everyone knows how I feel about those books.
  • Michelle: 4.5 for me. Tucholke’s sense of story-telling is genius. It’s a slow, but beautiful relationship that you build with this book. The characters are solid, built on a strong foundation that makes you want to know them for real. The theme of the story is one filled with lore and culture. There is so much said behind each word that I wanted to pay attention to each and every one. The world built around a contemporary setting is like living in a bubble where you can only focus on one thing.
  • Christina: Actual rating of 3.5, but I’m rounding up because I really did like Tucholke’s writing style. My first thought after having finished the book is simply that I wish I would’ve fell in love with the contents as much (and as quickly) as I fell in love with its cover. I also felt a little mislead by the summary. I guess I was expecting more of a YA contemp with a paranormal edge, but I got this gothic, borderline-horror book instead.

Characters:

–River:

“Violet, Violet. You curl up next to me, nap, and leave. What is this, some sort of one-nap stand?” He smiled. “Screw the movie. Get back over here.”

  • Stacee: Sweet baby Jesus, did I love River.  That line just killed me.  He is a sweet, cocky, jerk know-it-all and it is delightful.  I didn’t believe 90% of what he said most of the time, but he still made me swoon all of the swoons and want to curl up for a nap with him.
  • Michelle: Before River even said that line, I already fell in love. His slow and sly smile is what won me over. He’s all the things your mom would tell you to stay away from, but is also all the things that you would fall in love. He’s brutally complex, to the point that honesty (or lack thereof) is a flaw. River is someone who you thought you had figured out, and slowly Tucholke broke down those reactions and replaced it with something new.
  • Christina: I think the line above sealed my love for him in stone. I love a boy that loves to nap and snuggle. But in all honesty, I really enjoyed his character. I liked that despite his evil ways (And he is evil, trust!), he was still relatively good and had a few swoony moments.

– Violet:

  • Stacee: The main draw that I had to Violet was her quiet curiosity and strength.  She’s loyal, almost to a fault, but stands up for herself and refuses to be pushed around. I adored her fierce love for Freddie and wanting so badly to preserve all of her Freddie-filled-memories that she continues to talk to her as though her ghost is a shadow. She’s a strong heroine, but in an atypical way [this is a good thing].
  • Michelle: Violet is River’s antithesis. She is the positive balance to River’s negative. She appears to be sweet and simple, but has depth and this perplexed mind. I loved what she brought to the story. She was this complication, never allowing River to just do what he wants. It was a beautiful struggle to fall in love with her.
  • Christina: I had the opposite reaction to her character than I what I experienced with River. I found her aggravating at the best of times, but generally, I had a hard time connecting with her throughout a majority of the book. While I appreciated her quiet strength in the creepiest of times and when up against strangers, it was the way that she let her brother and BFF blatantly dictate her actions that had me erasing that former respect for her in the next instance.

– Other secondary characters:

  • Stacee: I know Citizen wasn’t really a character, but to me, it seemed like the house was a force throughout the entire book.  The lush descriptions of the setting [indoor and outdoor] really made me feel like the walls were going to start talking. Luke & Sunshine [Violet’s brother and best friend] were an interesting pair, but I won’t elaborate further.
  • Michelle: I loved how the secondary characters demanded as much attention as the main characters. Each one had a purpose, from the young girl that you’ll find out about to the mansion, Citizen Kane. They each add layers of awesome to the story, one more intriguing than the next.
  • Christina: I LOVED Neely. My opinions of Violet’s twin brother, Luke, and best friend, Sunshine, fell somewhere between strongly disliked and hated. As for the actual antagonist (purposely left this vague), he was super creepy and the thought of him alone causes me to shudder.

Writing:

  • Stacee: April has some mad skills, yo. I wanted to highlight and quote almost all of the book because the imagery she creates is damn near perfection. Some of my favorites:

“I had to tell someone that a panther-hipped boy had come to live in my backyard.”

“And his hand was all up in mine now, his long fingers weaving between my own and making my insides go from black-and-white to Technicolor.”

  • Michelle: I felt Tucholke’s passion with this book. From the first page, I fell in love with her writing style. Her words take on this lyrical persona, telling the story in a smooth and flowing way. She knows how to progress the story, whether it be a fast and intense scene or it be a slow and seductive one. Tucholke brings the imagination to the forefront, all with the magic of her words. I want to say that she’s like River, conjuring up images with a single thought. And if that’s the case, I’ll gladly follow Tucholke to the ends of the Earth.
  • Christina: To me, this was the area in which the author’s talents excelled  the most. Tucholke effortlessly weaves her story with a magically lyrical prose that pulls you in quickly and leaves you captivated with every word.  Infusing the novel with a sleepy, romantic atmosphere and an underlying haunted ambiance, her vivid descriptions painted the perfect portrait of a haunted mansion and a small seaside town in a state of unrest.

Plot:

  • Stacee: The plot was a bit of a slow burn, but it was so captivating, I didn’t dare put the book down.  I was certain that the big reveal would happen at any moment, on any page.  However, instead of the build up and resolution that resembles a rollercoaster, it’s more of a lazy stroll down a dark alley: you know there’s something scary in the alley, but you’re not sure what it is exactly. The tension I felt from page one was absolutely delicious and left me yearning for more.  I am almost rabid for book two (Between the Spark and the Burn) and this one hasn’t even been published yet.
  • Michelle: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea was a slow start for me, but I think it was meant to be. WIth the history of the house, Violet and Luke, I needed to slowly accept what I was reading. Tucholke knew how to bring each stage of the story in small doses. She just knew how much a reader could take in. I appreciated how Tucholke was adding layers upon layers, until I felt like I couldn’t possibly expect more, and BAM, another surprise. I want more, and I think that is the best thing that an author could do.
  • Christina: I was pretty much confused the entire time, but this was possibly intentional on some level by the author and the way she wove this tale. However, I wanted a more in-depth view/ more concentrated focus on certain aspects of the book– to feel less scatterbrained and like my mind was being pulled in a billion and one directions. I never felt like it came together as a cohesive whole, and even now, I’m still struggling to see where some parts fit into the story. The ending was vague– most likely on purpose seeing as there’s a companion novel– and I was left with that “wanting more” feeling.

Rec it?

  • Stacee: Yes. Yes. Yes.  This will be a book that I’ll be pimping out to anyone who stands still long enough for me to force it into their hands.  
  • Michelle: I would definitely recommend this. The beguiling draw of the Devil has worked it’s magic on me. I began reading a tale of a girl looking for something more, but ended with a story of loyalty, the truth, and temptation.
  • Christina: So, here’s the section where I’ll admit that I read this book immediately after having finished Crown of Midnight, and despite my best efforts to remain objective, it’s likely that it affected my overall reading experience of this novel. I always struggle with the worst cases of a book hangover. So, it’s in my honestest of opinions, you should give this book a try (especially after my two other trusted advisers loved it so much) even though I was kind of hard on it in this review. I saw where it had amazing potential, but maybe I wasn’t in the best frame of mind to read it.

Full of giggles, flails, snark and Southern endearments. Avid Reader. Lover of swoony boys, kickass heroines, yummy kissing scenes, and pretty prose.

I like to draw hearts in the sky (eternal optimist) and wish on stars (forever dreamer). Documentaries, sweet tea, sleep, and brightly colored knee-socks are a few of my favorite things. ♥

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