Book 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.

My Rating: 3.5 cupcakes

In a small town where everyone knows everyone lies an old, secluded mansion by the sea named Citizen Kane. This crumbling house contains many secrets and is the perfect setting for the strange and downright creepy events that are to come.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is not exactly what I expected it to be, but it was every bit the Gothic horror story that hoped it would be. Between violent murders, witch burnings, disappearing children, and strange fires, there was no lack of mystery or creepy occurrences. Just when I thought the plot was heading in one direction, new revelations would make me question everything I thought I knew about the characters.

As far as characters go, only a few stood out. Violet was not my favourite protagonist, and I found myself continually growing annoyed by her passivity and naivete. While many of her actions were excusable given the fact that she has lived a relatively sheltered life in a town where strangers were not commonplace, I couldn’t help but wonder how she could be quite as trusting as she was.

I love morally ambiguous characters, and River more than fits the bill. From his first appearance, it’s clear that there is much more to River than meets the eye, making him a character that I definitely wanted to learn more about. Of course, his first appearance also brought along an unhealthy dose of instalove which thankfully was explained in a way that was satisfying enough to keep me from frowning too much every time his crooked smile was mentioned. While I never quite trusted River, I found myself hopelessly intrigued by his personality and his background, and I cannot wait to see what revelations the next book brings.

Of the secondary characters, I found Luke to be insufferable and didn’t learn much about Sunshine aside from the fact that she was labelled as a slut. I really wish that more time had been spent establishing them as developed, complex characters, as opposed to characters who just seemed to be there to help further the plot.

Overall, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea was an ominous, intriguing read. The many unexpected twists in the plot more than made up for any issues I had with characterization, making it a thrilling, unputdownable read. I can’t wait to see us how the sequel plays out!

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