Review: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between #1) – April Genevieve Tucholke

Release Date: August 15th 2013
Published By: Dial
Pages: 360
Goodreads: Add it to your reading list

Rating: 3 out of 5

Synopsis: 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.

Review: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is a haunting tale of mystery, family secrets… and the devil. This story has an eery and gothic feel to it, as you follow the story of Violet White who lives in a quaint small sea-side village, where Violet has never shown any interest in boys - but all of that changes when River West arrives.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is one of those books that kept on haunting me. The stunning cover sucked me in, I had read reviews or quotes that used words such as decadence, dreamy, gothic and amazing, so I was very excited to read it. But ultimately I was left with so many conflicting feelings about this book that I still don’t know how to rate it. I have never been so torn over a book, I actually had to leave it for quite some time before actually considering writing a review. And in all honesty, I am still not sure how I feel about it, as there were aspects to this book that I loved, and other aspects that I was disappointed in.

The vivid descriptions in this book are astounding - especially when it comes to Violet’s family estate ‘The Citizen’. The descriptions of this once stunning estate were exceptional to the point that you could easily envisage the neglected, but yet still beautiful, run-down buildings and grounds. You could nearly smell the salt coming off the sea and hear the waves crashing against the cliff. You could feel the mystery surrounding it, and hear its secrets being whispered. The vividness is also extended to places like the town centre, the coffee shop, the grocery store and even food, as well as in items such as the art incorporated throughout this book. I utterly adored this element of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.

Another aspect that I enjoyed was the timelessness to this storyline. It is set in present day, but due to the environment this story is set in, it really could be set in any decade. This accompanies the fact that Violet herself could comfortably fit into another timeline - she is clearly attracted to things from the mid 1900’s (evident by her likes in looks in boys and cars), she prefers classics to modern day literature and art, she constantly refers to her family’s expired wealth and former glory in the town and she even wears her grandmothers clothes.

As beautifully written as this book is, there are things that I do not like in my romances: insta-love, manipulation and co-dependency - and unfortunately all of these things were incorporated into the plot.And one characteristic I do not like in a main protagonist is stupidity. And sadly, Violet had this in spades! When a character thinks that someone is bad news, they should turn the other way, and when they know beyond a doubt that they are, then they should run for the hills. And when a character finds out that there is something psychotic about their love interest - they should get the hell out of there! But no, Violet just kept on going back for more.

Of course, I am referring the “devil” that Violet holds hands with; otherwise known as River West. This character, while very disturbed and manipulative, does also bring an interesting element to the storyline. Although he may be doing things that you believe are wrong, he does pose the question: is it wrong to punish other evils? But, whether or not his actions are “justified”, I still have an issue with the whole situation as he does not seem to have any moral difficulties in these circumstances; in fact, he actually enjoys the devil in him and seems to find gratification in his terrible actions.

Sadly, I could not connect to these characters. Violet, while interesting, was way too co-dependant for my liking. She started off strong, but once she met River, it all went downhill. After meeting the swaggering River, the only aspect of herself that seemed to remain strong was her connection with her dead grandmother - and when I say connection, I mean bordering on obsession. I understand she was close to her grandmother, and her grandmother certainly has a big part to play in this storyline, but Violet was living in the past so much that she actually wearing her grandmothers clothes (and I don’t mean occasionally) and would constantly refer (or talk) to her.

The other characters also fell flat for me. I just could not connect to her jerk-jockish-sexist-brother Luke or her I-wouldn’t-want-a-friend-like-that Sunshine. And don’t get me started on the get-the-hell-away-from-me-psycho River - while he was described as good-looking, and was pretty much everything that Violet would want in a boy, he certainly had no appeal to me - in fact, he had all the character traits that I find unappealing (and by unappealing, I mean horrifying and inexcusable) in a character. There was only really one character that I liked, and he came into it quite late in the storyline. His character seemed to have more depth and personal conviction than the rest of them put together.

I think the thing that disappoints me the most about this book is Violet’s reaction to finding out about the all the manipulation, dishonesty and maliciousness. It seems that she is so delusional that she will do anything to hold onto her own fantasy - and I have to wonder if she is in love with being in love rather than being in love with River.

But please don’t get me wrong about the parts that I did not like about this book, I still have hope for the next one! The writing style is gorgeous, and there is so much promise in this storyline, that the next book could make me look back at Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and think “wow, that was an amazing ride, it all came together so well, and the conclusion of the complexity of the characters and twisting of otherwise cliché plot-lines was genius”, but then again, I could also be very disappointed by lack of development or the continuation of blinded and frustrating characters. There really is so much potential for this series, and it is possible that all of the things that I did not like is actually a part of the bigger storyline, and have been included for a reason - so therefore I reserve the right to change my rating on this book after reading the sequel :)

Book Trailer:

What do you think?

  • I’ve only heard good things about this book and your review makes me want to read it more! Just a shame the characters kind of fell flat for you. Great review!

    • Kristy says:

      Hi Jeann. There are a lot of great things being said about this book - and in part, I do agree with them. The characters (and their traits) did fall flat for me, but, there is a possibility that this could all be for a reason, so I am looking forward to the sequel.
      I hope you enjoy it!
      Kristy recently posted…W..W..W.. WednesdaysMy Profile

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