Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
April Genevieve Tucholke
April 3rd 2014 (UK)
Faber and Faber (UK)
Faded Gatsby glamour and thrilling gothic horror meet in this gorgeously told, terrifying and dreamy YA romance.
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? Violet's grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who likes coffee and who kisses you in a cemetery... Violet's already so knee-deep in love, she can't see straight. And that's just how River likes it.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea was kind of a weird book for me. I'm still not really sure how I feel about it. It wasn't what I wanted it to be, but I feel it's not fair to criticize a book for not being the exact book I thought it would be when I started reading it, even though I would've liked the book I wanted it to be more. I did really love the atmosphere of this book, though, and it was super gripping.
I really liked the first half of the book. I wasn't really sure what was happening, but it was creepy and gothic and weird and I was loving it. The atmosphere of the book (I will henceforth be referring to it as 'the book' for this whole review because that title is hella long) was so perfect. Just sort of creepy and hazy and just the sort of book you want to be reading in the midst of all the terrible weather in the UK at the minute. I was fully swept up in it and I found it difficult to put the book down because I wanted to know what was happening and what River was, and because I was waiting for it to get creepier and creepier because I love creepy books and I need more of them in my life.
But. And yes, there is a but. From the second half onwards, I guess after the whole 'reveal' of the truth about River, I didn't enjoy it as much. I still found it gripping to read, but it stopped seeming as interesting or new and fresh to me. I mean, it's basically a paranormal romance, which is fine in itself, but I had built it up in my expectations to be some awesome creepy devil book and it wasn't (but if anyone reading this has read any awesome creepy books - devil or otherwise - please give some recs I do not read enough horror and I need more of it in my life). I don't know, it was still good for what it was, and there were a lot of individual elements to the book that I enjoyed, but I wasn't all that comfortable with how everything worked out. And I think(?) there's going to be a sequel, so maybe it's meant to be that way, but I don't know.
I think a lot of my problems came from the fact that I didn't really like any of the characters. And I'm not the kind of reader that things that characters need to be likeable in order to be good or interesting characters. I like all different kinds of characters. But I couldn't find anyone to root for in this book. And again, I'm not sure if this was on purpose or not, but regardless it meant that I, personally, wasn't emotionally connected to the book at all. I didn't care about any of them, I think is more accurate. Violet and her twin Luke were both snobby and Luke especially was just kind of a dick. River was creepy and manipulative and not a nice or good guy at all - which is not necessarily a bad thing for a character, but I feel like there should be some redeeming features to a love interest, do you not? I don't know. Again, this could just be me because I really like to have someone or something to root for in a book, but there was just no connection there. They were all interesting, though, and if a second book were to come out I would still read it to see how this whole thing worked out.
This review sounds really negative, but Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea wasn't a bad book or anything. My opinion of it has just been heavily distorted by my expectations, so don't let my negativity put you off if it's the sort of book you think you would like. It is creepy in parts and very atmospheric and the setting is lush and I did find it hard to put down regardless of its flaws.