Title: Between the Devil and Deep Blue Sea
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Series: Between the Devil and Deep Blue Sea, #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 1.5 / 5
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.
-- As seen on Goodreads
I’m going to be in the minority here, but I didn’t enjoy Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. While I adore the cover, the synopsis set up a completely different set of expectations than what I got. I was expecting a fabulously scary gothic novel with a strong mystery undertone, and I don’t feel this was met on any level.
From glancing at a few reviews before I bought the book, I noticed a continual theme about the writing style and how beautiful it was. Maybe my expectations were far too high, but I ended up feeling very underwhelmed by it. I was expecting gorgeous writing and perfectly descriptive prose, but in honesty I thought it all felt very standard, and I didn’t notice anything exceptional or unique. The dialogue didn’t vary from character to character, and each one failed to establish their own distinct ‘voice’. Also, the descriptions of the setting and the horror scenes felt basic and atmosphere-flat. While the words themselves painted a nicely horrific picture, there was no feeling or atmosphere to make it seem tangible and real. The idea behind a lot of these scenes is fantastic; I just found the execution and delivery to not be very terrifying in the end.
Most of the characters in the book drove me to distraction, and Violet, the main character and narrator, is really the single biggest reason why I disliked this book. If she was a real person, she and I would NOT get along. She continually passes remarks about other characters weight, size and appearance, and it ignited such a rage within me I was taken by surprised. Her fascination and fixation with her dead grandmother, Freddie, was far more disturbing than eccentric, and she also slut-shames every other female character in the book! All of this combined made it next to impossible for me to care about her. As for her twin brother Luke-the-sexist-asshole? I wanted the Devil to come along and eat him. Painfully eliminating that misogynistic twat would have been a real highlight of the book.
And speaking of the Devil. I read this line that’s printed on the back of the book: “You stop fearing the Devil when you’re holding his hand…” Well, based on this, I assumed the Devil would be making an appearance. Erm, I was kinda looking forward to this. I haven’t a clue what this says about me, but colour me disappointed when it didn’t happen. Yes, we get lots of psychotic manipulative liars, but no Devil-devil. River is the main love interest and in honesty, he was far to plain and one-dimensional to really care about. He’s supposed to be the bad, mysterious boy that you like despite all his faults, but unfortunately, he just came across as borderline psychotic.
Looking back now, I wonder why I stuck with the book until the end when I wasn’t really enjoying reading it. I think I was captivated by the ‘holding the devils hand’ thing, and I was eagerly anticipating the moment when the Devil would appear. Before I knew it, the story was over, and I was left feeling disappointed. The mystery thread didn’t really amount to much, and I’m a bit unsure why there’s a need for a sequel. The ending felt rather abrupt, and I feel the entire story could have been wrapped up in the one book if it was a handful of pages longer. While I love the concept behind Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, sadly, it didn’t live up to my expectations, and I’m not invested enough to continue on with the duology.