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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Title: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: August 15, 2013
Publishing House: Dial
ISBN: 9780803738898
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


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.
(Image, summary and information courtesy of Goodreads)


I found it very hard not to be intrigued by this book when it came popping up on GoodReads. For one, the title alone was enough to convince me that I absolutely needed this. Then out of the blue (Was that a pun? Why yes, I believe it was!) I remembered this The Killers song that had a line that had these words on it. I know that the title is obviously a saying, but there's nothing like humming Spaceman every time I see the title. Second, just look at that totally gorgeous Gothic-looking cover, and the teeny tiny humans on the cliff. They look like they're dancing, despite the grim and dangerous theme of their surroundings. The girl obviously looks like she's having fun flirting with danger, and I love the whimsical detail it poses. Third, the summary. Goodness knows how obsessed I am when it comes to horror and very unconventional romances. I have been disappointed time and time again by awesome-sounding books, but thankfully, that was not the case with this one.

Just like the evil River West, Between the Devil and The Deep Blue Sea is a total charmer.

With their bohemian-living parents away, Violet rents out one of the rooms in her grandmother's sprawling yet fading estate to be able to feed herself and her brother Luke. And who else rents it but the mysterious River West who seems to make Violet's heart race and whose grin almost makes her forget about the strange happenings around town. But when the gruesome and macabre goings-on start to hit closer to home, Violet starts to realize that her grandmother's warnings about the devil may not have been utter poppycock at all.

Violet would be the perfect embodiment of those shabby-chic girls you spot in magazines. She goes around wearing her grandmother's clothes with a devil-may-care attitude (I swear I am not making these puns on purpose. They just come rather naturally.) in her opulent yet faded grandmother's property, and she doesn't seem to give a rat's butt about what people think or say about her. Personality-wise, she reminded me a lot of Petunia from the webcomic Todd Allison and the Petunia Flower. While she's mostly smart with her dealings with River West, you just can't really fault her when she goes weak in the knees because, dear reader, you will too! I couldn't muster any love for Warner of Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me, nor any for Darkling of Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone, but I could understand why Violet fell under the spell of River West, despite him possibly being more psycho than Darkling. People, this guy is a real nut job, but a nut job I will confess to being enraptured with. Seriously. You want a really bad boy? Meet River West. I seriously didn't think I had it in me to be fascinated by a bad boy, but he's just so darn charming! River will remind you of a very mischievous cat playing with a mouse; it's not really intentional if the mouse ends up dead.

What I love about Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is that it does away with your whole black-and-white version rendition of good and evil. Instead, readers are subjected to a murky gray that will undoubtedly be good material for some self-reflection.

Also, Tucholke's writing will not clue you in that this novel is her first. She is good at pacing, and is adept in creating curious - and sometimes horrific - events that effectively counter the idyllic scenarios readers witness. 

Was the novel a bit insta-love-y, however? A little, but if you've given proper thought, it doesn't appear to be that way. Well, not on purpose anyway, and that is good enough for me.

If you like creepy books and are curious about a devil who doesn't know which side he's on, I cannot recommend this book enough. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea balances perfectly well the romance as well as the Gothic horror, making it equally appealing to horror-lovers and romance aficionados alike!

Now, being a new Tucholke fan, I'll just have to languish a little bit every day like the others as I wait for the second book, Between the Spark and the Burn, which comes out in August 2014...



  1. Reading your review makes me want to buy this book right now. I don't know why, but I'm a huge fan of gothic romance and psycho guys. Anyway, great review, Michelle! And thanks for the heads-up about the insta-love. :)

    1. I seem to be under the impression that a lot of readers balk at insta-love, so I had to point that out. It's very understandable though, which is more than I can say for others!

  2. YAY! A positive review for this book :D
    I have been seeing so many people complaining about this novel around the blogosphere, and it made me sad. Because I think this book looks AMAZING, and I cannot wait to read it.
    Gothic horror? Romance? What is there not to like about this novel?