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Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

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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.

360 pages, Hardcover

First published August 15, 2013

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About the author

April Genevieve Tucholke

15 books1,610 followers
April Genevieve Tucholke is the author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Between the Spark and the Burn, Wink Poppy Midnight, The Boneless Mercies, and Seven Endless Forests. She also curated the horror anthology Slasher Girls & Monster Boys. Her books have been published in sixteen countries, and have received ten starred reviews. They have been selected for the Junior Library Guild, Kids' Indie Next picks, and YALSA Teens Top Ten. When she's not writing, April likes walking in the woods, exploring abandoned houses, and studying poison. She currently resides in Oregon wine country.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,482 reviews
Profile Image for Mitch.
355 reviews605 followers
April 9, 2015

As a huge fan of Gothic horror, it pains me to say this, but that rant? All true.

The Writing

You know how April Genevieve Tucholke's writing has been called haunting and atmospheric? Well, it only is because either she borrows gothic horror tropes that have nothing to do with the actual story, like the whole deal with a crossroads demon or the entire discussion of music and art, or she comes up with these fake outs, like the stuff with the creepy kids waving stakes around, that end up being nothing, and the whole effect is like the book equivalent of eating cotton candy, filler to make you feel like you're getting something substantive but in reality is nothing at all. I just made the comparison to Raven Boys because there the writing built up the setting and advanced the story, this was just fluff for the sake of fluff. What a waste of words.

The Characters

The idea behind a mysterious boarder could've been interesting, but then this Violet chick had to go all Bella Swan on him. Not only does the romance take up ninety percent of the ten percent of the book that's actual story and not just fluff, but there's nothing sinister at all to any of what happens, it's just sad and deluded. By the time it's revealed this River dude is a danger to her and she's still thinking about how much she loves him - I think I threw up a little in my mouth.

The Plot

Ha ha you're kidding right? Sorry to break it to you, but there is no plot. The thrilling dread? False advertising. It's just random pointless shit happening because River is a mysterious loner dude and potential menace to society. That leads to the dumbest plot twist ever because in order to make the romance work he can't be a completely irredeemable psycho - even though murder is still murder. RUN VIOLET WHILE YOU STILL CAN!!!!!

Final Thoughts

I'm trying to think of redeeming qualities to this, and I'm really struggling. Between the pointless atmosphere, the tedious non-plot, the terrible romance, the laughable characters, I can't even begin to express my disappointment.
August 21, 2013
“His name is River West,” Sunshine slipped in. “And Violet’s decided she’s going to be mad as a hatter in love with him.”
...Sunshine was dead right, and we both knew it.
River West. Sunshine Black. Rose Redding. True White. Violet White. Blue Hoffman.

Did you pick up a copy of US Weekly by mistake? Oh, these silly celebrities and their strange baby names! Oh, wait, no. These are some of the names of the characters within this book. I should have known something was wrong when our big man, River West, sauntered up to the "aging ballerina" house in his pressed linen pants and his wallet full of benjamins and his fifties car. What do they always say? Listen to your instincts? I never listen...and I am always drawn to a beautiful cover. In my defense, that is a gorgeous cover, people.

All these high ratings, I can't help but feel like I'm missing something. I didn't understand this book, I really don't. I think it was a waste of the time spent reading it. The writing is lovely, although it leans towards the side of purple prose at times. This book tries to sell itself off as "Gothic" and it does have a gothic feel to it by way of the ancient rotting house and the small-town setting; the writing reinforces this, and it really is beautiful.

This book has a timeless feel to it, which is how a good gothic-styled book should be. It's supposedly set in the present day, but I feel like this book could easily be set in the 1950s or 60s by the old-fashioned atmosphere of the book. The town itself feels out of place in modern time; the town is still focused on social standing and family history, there are the odd eccentrics; I actually think this book has more of a lazy, summery cicada-chirping, mint-julep-sipping, American Southern atmosphere to it. Our main character Violet also has her head phased solidly in the past, wearing her dead grandmother Freddie's old clothes, reading her letters and reminiscing through her nostalgic tales of the Grand Old Days when the White family still had money to go along with their status.

I always feel bad giving a poor rating for quality writing, but to me, the writing was all that this book had going for it.

What is severely lacking is the plot. Read the summary, because I honestly have no idea what I just read. I didn't know what the big mystery was, I didn't feel like there was a sense of anything urgent that I was supposed to expect...it was dull. It feels more like a summer contemporary YA with some "scary" paranormal children-of-the-corn elements sprinkled into it for shits and giggles. Things just happen out of nowhere, for no reason; the plot did not follow any reasonable expectations, the story just diverged into whatever direction it felt like. As with a lot of paranormal-type YA this year, this book completely fails in delivering an intriguing plot and believable, complex characters. The summary promised me " faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror," but this book only delivered on the former, not the latter.

I didn't hate Violet, but I didn't like her character either. She has a personality, that of the annoying kid in your class who constantly quotes obscure authors and factoids at you and unwittingly make you feel bad that you didn't get the reference. Violet is a reader, she loves books, and makes rather pretentious references to them throughout the story. Her twin brother Luke, describes her best.
"We all know you’re a smug bookworm, sister. Stop showing off."
There were seriously so many references to art, poetry, music, literature throughout the book. It would be a fun scavenger hunt for a reader, but for me, it just made me dislike Violet more and think of her as a smug hipster prone to bragging about all the obscure shit she knows that others don't.

Jack Kerouac. Aldous Huxley. Faust. W. H. Auden. Wuthering Heights. James Faulkner. Cab Calloway. Zane Grey. An American in Paris. Jackson Pollock. Impressionism. Casablance. Fucking enough already, you're smart, we know that, Violet.

Have I mentioned I hate insta-love? Let me re-emphasize. I hate insta-love, and it really is insta-love with River the moment he quite literally swaggers into her life like a swanky 40s Clark Gable. Violet, who has never been in love until now, who has never expressed interest in anyone in all of her 17 years, who is a stark contrast to her "slutty" alpha-male twin brother Luke, takes one look at River and madly falls for him. Their attraction is inexplicable, instant, and incredibly painful for a rational reader to see.
I breathed in the warm, boy smell of him, the smell of leaves and autumn air and midnight and tomatoes and olive oil. His face nestled into my hair, and the last thought I had before I fell asleep was that I’d known River all of one day and yet it felt like years and years.
There's also a sad attempt at a love triangle, too. Nope, nope, nope. Run, don't walk.

River is not even an attractive character. He's good looking, certainly, because god forbid Violet should fall in love with an ugly guy. He's good looking, he even sleeps beautifully, like "a woodland creature or someone under a fairy spell. Sweet and pretty and quiet, with glossy eyelids and mouth in a soft pout." His personality is not at all attractive; in short, he is a fucking psychopath, and yet Violet maintains her delusion for him anyway. It's foolish, and makes me think the less of Violet for yet another failure in her astoundingly dull character.

There was no point for the existence of her twin brother Luke, or his pseudo-gf-fuck-buddy Sunshine in the book. The only purpose I can think of is that they serve to be the carnal, sexual foil to the sparkling pureness of the innocent and all-that-is-holy Violet.

Sunshine's character bothered me too, the portrayal of her character borders on insidious slut-shaming. Sunshine is an unabashedly sexual creature, she flirts shamelessly with Luke, she shows off her body, particularly her breasts. Even if it's not outrightly stated BY Violet, as the reader, I get the sense that our narrator disapproves of Sunshine's more carnal nature. There's a very holier-than-thou Mary Magdalene feeling of disapproval towards Sunshine.

In summation: there was no discernible plot; there is action, but it largely made no sense, and I did not enjoy the book for anything besides the writing.
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,573 reviews33.9k followers
May 28, 2013
4.5 stars If the idea of Tennessee Williams writing a supernatural gothic novel interests you, you will not want to miss this.

Shrieking, wild-eyed, descent-into-madness horror. I LOVED IT.

Review to come.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,365 followers
July 31, 2013
"Their faces were white. And grim. They glared at me, streaks of pale moonlight sweeping across their cheeks. They looked somber and gruesome and not like kids at all."

Highly atmospheric, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is a haunting tale of evil and family secrets for every Gothic horror fan!

Although most Gothics are set in the past, this one is not, but it takes place in an old and tired estate which gives this book the perfect ancient feel. It's not long before strange things start happening in Violet's extremely small, quaint town, setting about hair-raising goosebumps that last throughout. First we get frightening legends about a kidnapper in a retired tunnel, then creepy kids walking around the cemetery claiming to have seen the devil, but it doesn't end there; from start to finish, this book emits a great and eerie vibe that is all mostly due to the excellent way the setting comes alive. I could easily picture myself walking these trails, visualizing the cemetery, the collapsed, seemingly haunted tunnel, and the old house by the sea--Citizen Kane. Big enough to have its own name, this manor just vibrates with secrets and old family histories. I love how it gives you chills, yet it's sort of a beautiful kind of dramatic mansion. I could hear the house creak and feel the drafts. It was fantastically brought to life. Great effort was equally spent conjuring the town it's located in; Echo glows from its mystique. It is one of those tiny towns where everybody knows everyone else's secrets, and if one family has done something gossip worthy, the whole town comes together and shuns them--which is what is happening to our protagonist, Violet.

Violet was brought up by artists who have since abandoned their kids for a life of paintings and museums in Paris. Consequently, living alone with her brother, Violet has becomes a little of a recluse, and I liked how eccentric this made her. She can often be seen wearing one of her grandmother's old-fashioned dresses with no care of how odd she looks. But mostly, I respected her for doing everything she could to keep food on the table, putting the guest house up for rent for instance. She never expected to have anyone respond, let alone the young man who arrives. It's not a secret that something is off with River from the start, especially when after his arrival things start getting... bizarre. His character left me in constant anxiety and intrigue, I knew not to trust him, yet, he has a way of charming you regardless. By their side stands Violet's brother, Luke, and their neighbor, Sunshine, who add an amusing tone to the book. I enjoyed the brother/sister banter as much as I adored Luke's protectiveness of Violet. It's a great cast all-around with sometimes clashing, sometimes matching personalities that I thought perfect for the story. There are also a few new faces that come into the mix for some surprises down the road.

While it never became something I viewed as a negative aspect of the novel, the romance is one thing I was not completely crazy about. I simply didn't emotionally connected to it as much as we were meant to. I do place some blame on the simple fact that I never truly trusted River--we were not expected to either. The mystery surrounding his character kept my heart at arm's length, even - or particularly - when Violet was happy in her oblivion. Once his secret is out, I became leery for other reasons, not knowing exactly how much it affected Violet. It's not an easy romance. It is, however, definitely unique. When you learn of the secret River bears, you're made to be even more fascinated by him as we're still left unsure of both his true nature and his agenda. How evil is he, exactly? Because there is clear evil out and about. From devil sightings to torture, some pretty disturbing images are generated from this book. Though I have read worse, it is not for the faint of heart.

Mysterious, ominous, and also incredibly gorgeous, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea--aka Book of Long Title--is a story for all Gothic horror lovers who crave a rich atmosphere and originality. The cover portrays it perfectly.

"I liked to cut her, just a little, and watch her cry. It passed the time."

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,230 reviews1,650 followers
July 7, 2013
Sometimes I'm that guy. You know, the one who reads a book that trusted friends, ones I usually agree with, were super impressed by and ends up unenthused. The blurb for Devil (since I can't be bothered to type all of that out over and over) did give me pause, what with the focus on River coming to town. The whole thing suggests instalove, but early reviews were promising and an ARC arrived, so damn the blurb and full speed ahead! Well, turns out I should have listened to my first instincts, because both the romance and a plot twist bothered me. Be warned that this review contains spoilers, since that was the only way I could explain why I feel the way I do.

In no way do I think Devil is a bad book, and there was even a brief time where I thought a 3.5 rating was coming for it. Tucholke excels especially at the horror aspects. Pretty much everything that happens ranges from eerie to mindfuck to terrifying. The concept and execution of River's deal was done incredibly well. Tucholke also manages to pull off so many surprises, which upped the intensity. If you're really into horror, then I think Devil will probably be worth your time.

The other aspect that I really enjoyed was the atmosphere. As with most gothic novels, there's a sort of place out of time feel to it. Though set in the modern world, Violet's little town and her house seem caught in the past. The most popular town activity is watching old movies. Violet listens to her grandmother's music and wears her grandmother's clothing, as a way of connecting. Violet's been so alone since her grandmother Freddie died, unable to connect with her brother, who she loves but who also irritates her with the way he treats girls. Tucholke sets the scene well, with the spooky giant house, the sleepy town disconnected in some way from modernity, and the slower pace of life. Tucholke's writing fits the narrative well, though it isn't a style that especially speaks to me.

The characters all felt pretty flat to me too, though that could be due to Vi's impaired mental state. The only one I really connected to was Neely, who was for me the most likable in a flawed and strange bunch. The portrayal of Sunshine upset me especially, as she never actually DOES anything, except hook up with Luke, Violet's brother, even though she knows he's seeing another girl too. Sunshine gets called a 'whore,' beat up, terrified and all sorts of things, but the reader never gets a sense that there's anything more than that to her. She's shown as entirely vacuous and vain, living solely to hook up with any willing guy. All of the characters seem pretty similarly one note, but Sunshine was the most distressing.

One of the aspects I didn't care for, as it so often is, is the romance between River and Violet. Now, as the blurb suggests, Violet's instalove for him does have a reason behind it, so, though painful, that's legit. He can mess with her mind somehow and create these feelings in her, which speaks strongly to abusive relationships and could send a powerful message. Unfortunately, I didn't get a real sense of the change he wrought in her, since the book opens pretty much with his arrival, so I never really got a sense of Violet as a person, because I knew her so briefly before her every thought became suspect. I can see where Tucholke put in clues to the brainwashing effect, like how Vi's initial analysis of River's appearance differed greatly once her mind started clouding, but it wasn't quite enough to help me differentiate regular Vi from River's Vi.


As I said, early review of Devil have been really positive and there were things I liked, but, as a whole, I really do not see the appeal. Whatever made this magic for others was not there for me.
Profile Image for Mara YA Mood Reader.
336 reviews266 followers
September 14, 2020
9/11/2020: Reread!! Everyone’s been sleeping on this!!

Oh my gosh I just fell so hard for this. There’s just something about it....the way Tucholke writes...I can’t even explain it but it just feeds my soul.

It’s kind of the way I feel about Stiefvater’s writing. And I know that’s saying a lot! Because to me Stiefvater is on a bleeding pedestal above all others. But like Stiefvater, Tucholke has a way of numbing me with words and this gothic feeling....like with The Raven Boys—-and seriously I don’t know why I’m comparing the two here so much—how there’s not exactly that much going on and even some would call it dull but it’s this vibe, this depth, these pretty words, it’s the voice of it all.

It’s the vibe. That’s what it is. The tone.

A creepy, unsettling, deep, tone. Not just the plot but I mean the writing. Being inside the main character’s head. Her inner voice...

“I walked into her arms and we hugged like hugging was breathing and we'd been holding our breath for a long, long time.

That’s the kind of thing I just Eat. Right. Up.

“River had never lost his cool, not since I'd know him. That was the thing about River. He was calm. Calm as a summer's day. Calm as a gentle nap in the sun. Even when girls were fainting and men were slitting their throats in front of you.”

I love it when an author can take me to that ”place”, and boy do I hope you know what I mean because you haven’t lived until a book has taken you to that damn nameless “place”!

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea was beautiful to me. I mean sure it’s not perfect, and it’s definitely got that pre-2015 vibe. But we forgive. It is now so very dear to me. Like my little secret because it isn’t well loved so it feels mine, mine, mine ;)
Profile Image for Monica.
Author 4 books267 followers
March 26, 2017
Este libro me atrapó tanto con su portada como con la descripción oscura que se atribuía, me plantearon un universo enigmático, una especie de romance tormentoso e inevitable hacia el mundo de las tinieblas, donde la protagonista sin saberlo caída rendida a los pies del demonio. Pero el encanto solo duró unos segundos y en cambio dejó ver una historia arenosa, salpicada de olas, soledad y un pueblo olvidado por todos donde no importa lo que seas y lo que hagas ni las intenciones que tengas. Incluso eso fue interesante pero al avanzar más en la trama se fue convirtiendo en una especie de cuento de romance con una que otra cuota de "terror" para luego pasar a líos innecesarios y personajes que estaban de más y que de la nada se volvieron los nuevos protagonistas, utilizando recursos que he visto en series y explotándolas con el mismo final... ya no hay más misterio que resolver,salvo el romance que no me convenció desde el principio, fue demasiado predecible e ilógico.
Profile Image for Katy.
611 reviews333 followers
August 21, 2013
This book promised to be a gorgeously terrifying gothic horror, but for me, it ended up being a cheesy bad ghost - or devil, I should say - story. To call it a nightmare would imply that I was emotionally moved - intrigued, nervous, scared - and the only feeling I had for it was disappointment that it was so silly. I really tried to like the book, but I just felt Tucholke missed so many opportunities with this one because it had potential to be so great.


First of all, the writing felt elementary and was very simple, which would have been fine, but I was hoping Tucholke was going to throw me into a creepy, dark setting - I pictured Sleepy Hollow for the town of Echo and Jane Eyre's Thornfield Hall for Citizen Kane. But the world building was weak, at best, with bare minimum description of setting or anything else. With such a premise, I was waiting to see that beautiful writing with descriptive imagery. Unfortunately, it never came to be.

And as for symbolism and analogies? I was hoping Tucholke was going somewhere with them because she name-dropped several books and stories including William Faulkner and Agatha Christie. I suppose I get the idea of where Violet was coming from, but she treated them so frivolously that there is no impact of their possible symbolism to the story.

Also, there was potential for the paintings to be used as such, but they weren't either. There was one instance where Luke was painting a girl holding her shadow, and there was a lot of potential here to possibly compare the girl to Violet or maybe even River. But his metaphor seems almost backwards. If the shadow is the one that needs her support, why is it her that feels like she doesn't exist? Unless I'm not understanding correctly or I'm lacking an imagination, I would think it should be the other way around, right? Who knows.


Now I'm just going to put this out there. I do not like the characters in this book. Any of them. At all.

Violet is eccentrically odd - and not in the spunky kind of way - more of the quiet girl with strange, disturbing thoughts that you have to watch out for. And I guess that would have been fine if she had been the villain in the book, but she wasn't. She was different, yeah I get that. But she was also pretty much without friends, and Tucholke never really set up the scene for us that way, except with Luke's occasional derogatory remarks. Totally different from her twin.

Speaking of the twin, I couldn't stand Luke. Yes, I understand that Tucholke set him up to be a total and utter douchebag. But I never understood why he was the way he was. I know siblings fight, but their relationship was unnecessarily degrading. It was never explained why Luke was so nasty to Violet - if he was jealous of her growing up, if he had a bad childhood with Freddie or the parents, why it made him feel more manly to bully her. It was just annoying, especially in the scene where he "had taken off his pinstriped jacket" and "began to flex his pectoral muscles in the way that [Violet] hated." No, they weren't outside on a hot day, where he felt the need to cool off and use that opportunity to show off. It was just a random scene. Um, okay. I guess I Tucholke's purpose was to make him such a bad seed where he had room to change at the end. Still, I think the character building was so flawed with his case, that it was hard to care about him.

And Sunshine? Can someone slap her please! Again, I suppose the point was to make her as a self-centered bitch so her personality can improve after everything they've been through. Like Luke, i felt she was too conveniently flawed so Tucholke would have the perfect set up for later. “Stop fighting. Both of you. It interrupts my flirting.”But wow, just get her to shut up and go away.

River West. I'm sorry, but he creeped me out from the beginning. I know he's supposed to be the mysterious stranger that shows up out of nowhere, so you're not sure if you can trust him. But I thought his lines were very cheesy and anything but smooth. In fact, if a guy tried to say some of those things to me, I would roll my eyes and try to stay far, far away. So, okay, Violet is lonely, and attention from a hot boy is exactly something that would make her melt, and there may be the addition of being under the influence or something like that. Still, at least make him a Rico Suave instead of some creepy stalker guy.

I won't mention any other characters because I don't want to ruin the story. But I do want to say that how convenient it is that the parents are gone and that other parental figures are just about absent from this book. do not like what Tucholke did to Freddie's character. And by the end of the book, connections were made, but Tucholke didn't really hone in on their significance. I get the Will thing, but who cares about John.


First, it took forever to get there, and even when it did, it wasn't clearly formed into a coherent thought. I kind of wish she stuck to one thing instead of trying to throw in twists and turns (none of with was unpredictable, by the way) to keep the readers interested.

I won't say much about the plot except that it's silly. I mean no disrespect to Tucholke, but really?!? THAT was the story behind everything? I was really hoping for something huge. And I was so disappointed to find out the truth.

But back to the story development. I called it. I called it at the mention of Texas, and I called it in the attic and the aftermath. And it really messed up everything that Tucholke was building toward. That's all I'm doing to say about it.

All in all, I think there was a lot of potential for this to be a truly amazing, beautifully written, gothically descriptive, twistedly haunting horror story. Tucholke had so much there that was already in place to be such. But the fact that it lacked world-building, had unlikable characters, slow developing plot and a scattered storyline, I just felt that it failed to live up to its potential. I really tried hard to like it. I just couldn't.
Profile Image for A.G. Howard.
Author 19 books8,705 followers
April 30, 2013
Can't wait to read this! Love the sound of the premise. Almost has a Heathers feel to it, for those of us who remember the 80's flick. YUM. I do love me a bad boy. :)



This book is amazing. Gothic atmosphere, check. Creepy bloody horror scenes, check. Hot guys, check, check. Unpredictable outcome, check again.

I'm officially a fan of Ms. Tucholke.

When is the next one coming out???
Profile Image for Riley.
427 reviews21.1k followers
August 17, 2015
So I reread this book a while ago because when I read it initially I couldn't put my finger on why I didn't like it. After rereading it I realized what I didn't like. I felt like it was somewhat sexist. And I couldn't get behind the romance because of the way that River uses his power/ability to "force" Violet to do things, sometimes physical. It was just not okay with me. It seemed like the author was aiming for a sort of angsty romance but it was more disturbing then anything else.

I would give this a 3.5
I really enjoyed this book. It was definitely different then most books that I read. More of a creepy book.
I had a few problems with the characters, at times they were a bit annoying and the plot seemed far fetched at times but I read this book in a matter of hours so it obviously kept my attention. It was very intriguing and I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. While this is not the best book I've ever read I did enjoy it and I am definitely going to read the sequel when it is released. Also the cover is gorgeous.
Profile Image for Krysten.
33 reviews17 followers
October 1, 2013

I need this book in my life RIGHT. NOW.
I seriously cannot wait for it to come out.

Profile Image for Giselle.
1,057 reviews907 followers
April 21, 2016
An Advanced Reader Copy was provided by the publisher for review. Quotes pulled from the ARC may be incorrect and may be subject to change.

Violet White and her brother Luke have lived in Echo all their life. Their parents travel around the works leaving the twins to themselves in the small town. When a mysterious and gorgeous boy named River rents the little room in their mansion, Violet realizes he's not just any normal boy..

The love story was a big confusing, and I wasn't a big fan of the romance. It's hard to incorporate romance in a horror novel but this one seemed a little forced or strained. The characters themselves are all so deeply wrecked that you don't notice it until strange things start to happen around town. And when I say strange, I also mean deeply disturbing. The mystery surrounding River was the main focus for me and I have to say that's what made the novel such a page turner. Also that cover has to be one of my ultimate favourite covers.. It shows the theme and tone of the story beautifully. I also want to know who did the typography on this cover. The design nerd in me wants to praise them. *bows down*

Scary and creeptastic, if you enjoy Gothic horror novels with weird twists and turns, then Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is strictly for you.


Women are always making it so hard for us me to get the one thing nature intended for us to have.”—Luke (118)

It's easier to forgive someone for scaring you than for making you cry.”—River (157)

Profile Image for Erin Bowman.
Author 18 books1,920 followers
January 1, 2012
I love this book. Love, love, love. I've been fortunate enough to read it several times over and I somehow manage to fall a bit further in love with each read.

Violet is such a captivating protagonist, and the cast of characters that populate this novel are just as charming. I fell in love with each of them and saying goodbye to them at the close of the story hurt. Violet is a bookworm, and spunky, and says it like it is. Her brother is bit of a jerk, but I love him anyway. And River, the mysterious stranger that Violet lets board at her family's crumbling estate? He is deliciously mysterious and dark and up to no good. I love him even when I know I shouldn't.

Characters aside, though, this novel is haunting. The setting is rich and the writing is gorgeous. The happenings in Violet's town are disturbing, and in many cases, downright creepy. Look-over-your-shoulder creepy. Read-with-the-lights-on creepy. Jump-at-odd-noises creepy.

This book is so unique. I'd say more, but it's far too early and I don't want to spoil things. I highly recommend picking up a copy come 2013. (And keeping the light on while you read.)

Note: I read an early version of this manuscript, hence the review long before publication.
Profile Image for Kassidy.
339 reviews11k followers
July 13, 2016
I thoroughly enjoyed this one!

The best part about it is the setting. The atmosphere is sooo creepy. It's set in this little quaint town, but you soon realize there are a lot of secrets. At first everything seems so normal, but there's always this feeling that something is wrong.

I really loved the main character Violet, she's such an old soul and very unique.
The plot is a little slow at first, but you can tell it's building up to something. Be prepared because it gets really weird and twisted..
I loved the twists throughout the story they kept me guessing and always wanting to continue reading.
There is a slight romance, but it's full of distrust.. So it was a little hard to really get into, but I found that aspect of it to be very endearing. I liked the love interest and I'm curious to see where it goes.

At the end of the book, I was like "what did I just read..?" I love that feeling because this story took me on a crazy journey and I was very engrossed the whole time. This book was exactly what I expected and wanted. It's mysterious, scary, and creepy and the perfect Halloween read!
Profile Image for Suzanne.
635 reviews29 followers
August 11, 2013
Oopsies. I seem to be in the minority here. Oh, well! I DID finish it, mostly out of morbid curiosity to see where in the world it could be going, but I found its whole nature to be difficult to digest and its world unpleasant to visit. Some of my qualms might stem from my age being so beyond the teen target; however, many of the references and atmosphere of this book seem oddly pitched to a much more mature reader than those with a one for the first digit of their age: old movies, men wearing linen pants and hats, art, gourmet foods, and classic books. Mysterious behavior from the "devil" of the title, paranormal heartthrob River, made me keep looking for comprehensible back story for his strange "glow," an ability to make people see and do what he wants, quite a godlike quality that makes him eccentric and callous to most and seems to make him act like more of an ancient being than the guy run away from boarding school with a power he can't adequately control.

Perhaps the other readers who rated this so highly enjoys dipping into the romance and dilemma of Violet White and her twin Luke, unrealistically left to fend for themselves in an old mansion by the sea built by industrialist ancestors whose factories went kaput. When she puts signs up to rent their guest house to fund some groceries, up drives River, exotic and compelling but disturbing with his aura of command and worldliness. I could actually buy that he was a god or demon playing at being a teenager better than I bought the author's version of events and foundations.

I didn't bother to do the math, but I wasn't even comfortable that the validity of the ages and generations here: grandmother who had died somewhat recently and had lived with seventeen year old twins born in let's say, 1996, is somehow supposed to have been about eighteen herself in 1928, therefore born in about 1910. Their artist parents, away in Europe for an undetermined period, couldn't have been born much later than 1945 or 1950, making Violet's age not quite match the family history very well.

Perhaps that's one of my complaints here: too many realistic details just don't make much logical sense, and the evil or magic doesn't overcome it enough for me to look away. I wanted to like our female protagonist, but she often came off weak and too tractable, enraptured by the spell of what comes to seem like a darker and darker boy-man. I felt itchy while inhabiting the pages here, but not in a good way of new skin growing--More like an allergy. I was glad to be done with it.
Profile Image for Paige  Bookdragon.
938 reviews610 followers
September 10, 2015
Meh. First few chapters and my idiocy-radar is tingling. I smell bullshit, drama and crappy romance.Life's too short for me to read crappy books.
Profile Image for Nafiza.
Author 6 books1,206 followers
August 9, 2013
Two days have passed since I read this book. Two days between me finishing the book and me attempting to write a somewhat coherent review. I will confess to you, though; I am utterly uncertain about how I feel for this book. Did I love it or did I hate it? I really don’t know. One thing I am certain of, however, and that is the fact that I am not indifferent to it.

The prose is gorgeous. It is beautiful in just the right amount in just the right places. There is no purple prose spoiling the narrative and no awkward metaphors that defy logic. The setting is created supremely well. The Citizen, as the great house is called, is so vividly drawn that it seems like a character in its own right. A character dripping with mystery, secret passages and hidden letters that reveal melodramatic secrets. I could see the place come to life in my mind and that is evidence of good writing.

The most eerie part for me is the image of little children holding stakes and combing the graveyard for the devil. I imagined smudged cheeks, narrowed and determined eyes, thinned lips and a vulnerability at odds with their desire to find the Devil and bring him to justice. Tucholke presents a very different view of childhood than many of us are accustomed to. Rather than children as beings to protect and coddle, children in this novel are almost feral, surprisingly strong and a little bit eerie. I loved that just like l loved Jack, whose quiet strength won me over. The pacing seems a bit too slow in the beginning but picks up speed later. I liked Sunshine and I mostly liked Violet. I think she needs to be developed a bit more because though I liked what I saw, I felt that the edges of her character are still being formed, that she is not as defined as the rest of the characters.

I did not like Logan, Violet’s brother. No, don’t get me wrong. I thought he was interesting but what I did have trouble with was how he got away with saying disgusting, chauvinistic things without being told directly that it was wrong. I have no problem with admitting that I am sensitive to hints of misogyny and I don’t think Logan is truthfully misogynistic but I would still have liked it if he had been taken to task for his words.

I suppose I should talk a bit about “River West,” the “devil.” I won’t say much except that he presents an interesting dilemma. What is evil? Are you evil if you punish another for being evil? What is the meaning of justice and who determines what shape it comes in? Can you still love someone if he or she acts in ways that go completely against your beliefs and morals? These are some of the questions the book asks and I am still mulling over them. I would have liked the mythology (for lack of a better word) to have been better explored/explained than it was. I won’t say more because it’ll be giving things away but I hope the next book goes into greater detail about the nature of the magic.

Also, there are way too many contenders for Violet’s attention. I hope that the love triangle that is being hinted at doesn’t come to pass because if it does, I am going to be very disappointed. I want complications in the love story, sure I do, and I will love it if there is a justified shift in feelings but this whole business of loving two people at the same time will probably not win me over – not unless it is done superbly well, of course. I like to keep my options open.

What I found very interesting, and this is the grad student speaking, is the reiteration of what theorist Peter Blos calls “the second phase of separation-individuation” which occurs during adolescence. This is the phase during which teenagers seek to separate themselves from their family and parents in order to assert and construct their own individual identities. The book, like many other YA novels, has the parents conveniently absent. However, this book constructs the parents in such a way as to make them seem neglectful and not very loving. Considering this then, I am surprised that Violet and Logan aren’t more resentful of their parents when they do return. Their wordless acceptance of their parents’ return seemed a bit too unrealistic for me to swallow.

All things considering, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is a promising debut. The writing is gorgeous, as I said, and though there is some shakiness where plot construction and story execution is concerned, I am hopeful that Tucholke will grow stronger in her craft as the series progresses. Do I recommend it to you? Yes, I do. It is definitely worth a read. Go discover the lushness of Citizen Kane and tell me you don’t want to live there too.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,163 followers
January 5, 2014
Rating: 2.5 Stars

...that's it? Are we all sure I received the right book in the mail, because I'm just a little bit confused. Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea became a blogging sensation when it first released a few months back and, ever since, I've been curious to try it out for myself. When my copy first arrived, I got through about half the book before turning to other pressing ARCs. Now, having finally found the time to settle back into this story, I've wound up disappointing. For some reason, I expected a lot more to...happen. *scratches head, still confused*

Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea excels as the gothic mystery it is marketed as. Not only is the writing beautiful, painting an atmosphere of chilling nights and howling winds, but the imagery Tucholke forces us to conjure, of little children holding sticks and hunting the devil, are spine-tingling. With the exception of this lyrical prose, however, this novel has little to offer. Its protagonist, Violet, is much like any typical heroine who plans to resist the "bad boy" but fails spectacularly. Moreover, I didn't appreciate the manner in which our feelings for Violet are intentionally manipulated. Violet's twin brother, Luke, is a rude misogynist and his girlfriend, Sunshine, essentially exists as a foil to Violet. Both Luke and Sunshine do little to develop the story, but their existence makes Violet seem like a much better alternative character. Frankly speaking, though this method is used by many authors, I'm not a fan of it merely because it doesn't offer many reasons to like the protagonist for who she is, which seems like cheating to me. If you only like the protagonist in comparison to those around her, do you really even like her at all?

River West, the mysterious boy who rents the guest house behind Violet's huge house, is essentially a creep. And an insta-love machine. Although he has never fallen for a girl before, of course he falls for Violet. Why? I still have no clue. And Violet too, who is a sensible teenager (supposedly), takes one look at River and instantly falls for him as well. *gag* While I really liked the moral questions that River's presence brings up - after all, can you really love someone if their actions go against your moral code? - ultimately that wasn't enough to save this novel for me. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is very similar to most paranormal reads, but its writing style sets it apart, giving it a gothic feel that I really enjoyed. When you strip that away, however, this is nothing but a slow-moving novel with characters that are just a little too familiar.

You can read this review and more on my blog, Ivy Book Bindings.
Profile Image for Katherine.
770 reviews349 followers
March 11, 2014
"And I reached, I reached,
Through the rain to the Devil's feet."- The Devil's Feet

Setting:Echo, Maine; 2013

Coverly Love?:Yes!! This cover is insanely gorgeous. Unfortunately, it's the only good thing going for this book.

Plot:Violet White and her twin brother Luke are living all alone in their family mansion nicknamed "Citizen Kane". With their rich, bohemian artist parents always gone and their grandmother Freddie recently deceased, they are running short on cash to live off of. So Violet posts an add for renting out the guesthouse in the back. And what do you know, someone takes the offer. River West is gorgeous, charismatic, seductive, and oh so mysterious. Freddie always warned her that the you never know who the Devil is until he is holding your hand... is River the Devil? Will Violet be trapped in his web of lies? And what is terrorizing this small town?

Sweet Jesus, this book had so much promise. First of all, the cover is absolutely gorgeous. I mean, look at it! And the plot line sounded so interesting, with all this hype about a mystery and thrills that was guaranteed to send chills up your spine.


This was about as mysterious as a Scooby-Doo mystery. If anything, this was a rip-off of Twilight. There is 0% mystery, 0% genuine love, and 100% insta-loveness. I was expecting American Horror Story type child, and all I got was a romance book.

First of all, the mystery part, aka what was considered the mystery part, was not only convoluted and confusing, BUT IT WAS SOLVED NOT EVEN HALFWAY THROUGH THE BOOK!!! You aren't supposed to do that; wait till the freakin' end!! Second, don't tout this as a mystery book when it is clearly NOT a mystery novel. And finally, STOP WITH THE INSTALOVE!! Violet knew him for only half a day before she decided to eat his face off.

"He's so dumb he doesn't even know he's alive."-Tom Buchanan, The Great Gatsby

Tom Buchanan from The Great Gatsby is not supposed to be a smart man. However, I think he had a premonition about this book and foretold the future. Replace the he with she and you have yourself Violet West. She is SO. FREAKING. DUMB. Red flag after red flag was given to her regarding River West, and she ignores them completely. Take this for example:

RIVER:Care to join me for an afternoon nap? Cuddle maybe?
VIOLET: (After knowing him for only about 2 hours and he's already lied to her repeatedly) OK!!


NO!!! One does not simply cuddle with someone they just met. Unless you happen to be Benedict Cumberbatch or Theo James.
description description
Then we shall make the appropriate arrangements ;)

But seriously, didn't anyone tell her not to trust strangers? I don't care how hot you are, he could have cut your head off and strangled you to death. Not that she would have cared or anything...

River West is the mysterious, sociopathic stranger in question. First of all, I want to apologize to the late great River Phoenix. His image kept popping up in my head whenever I read about this dude. Sorry, Phoenix. You deserved better, buddy. River was definitely a sociopathic man, and he came off as more creepy than truly frightening.

Luke West is Violet's twin brother. Quite possible the most annoying brother on the planet, all he seems to care about is his receding hairline, groping the ladies and torturing his sister (even though she kind of deserved it). Sunshine is the girl next door to them with an unrequited crush on Luke. Why, I have no idea. And then we have your cast of characters such as Blue, True, and other people with the strangest names in history. I get what the author was trying to do, but it fell flat.

Pros:The cover. That's it. Anything else, you ask?

Cons:Far too many to name. The author did a horrible job with the mystery aspect of the novel, and got way too carried away with the romance aspect.

Love triangle?:Surprisingly, no!


I don't need to say anything else; this says it all.

A Little Lot of Romance?:Yes, yes YES. As soon as River West comes to town, Violet is immediately overtaken by lust. And she's all..
And then it all goes down the insta-love drain from there...

Conclusion:So much potential, an epic letdown. There were so many problems with this book that it was torture to read. I shudder to think where the second book will go, but I can only hope that River gets crushed by a huge boulder and somebody knocks some sense into Violet. Otherwise, it'll be one more big mess!!!

Read This!! (if you dare):Between the Spark and the Burn is the second book in this series coming out in August 2014.
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
703 reviews3,277 followers
August 22, 2021
There’s so much to love here—the precision of Tucholke’s writing, the Gothic atmosphere, the nuanced horror, and all the little references to classic literature—but it’s all marred by the moment a character makes a joke about getting girls drunk and taking advantage of them, and the protagonist says the joke is so wrong, all she can do is laugh. Nope, nope, nope. A brooding, twisty, and flawed debut.
Profile Image for Sofii♡ (A Book. A Thought.).
401 reviews429 followers
October 13, 2016

I was expecting something more, I think the characters are very flat and some things are meaningless to me. Maybe I'm just not in the mood for this right now ... maybe I'll give it a chance at another time.
Profile Image for Amanda .
432 reviews154 followers
April 3, 2018
My review can also be found here: https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress....

I picked this book and it's sequel up at a used book sale in my city for a dollar each. I've been on a YA fantasy kick lately, and this series looked like it fit the bill. But I didn't have extremely high hopes for this book for some reason. Maybe it's the cover, which in my opinion is kind of mediocre. Regardless, I didn't expect it to be half as good as it was. The writing is incredibly descriptive, but manages to be insightful rather than boring. It is written in a voice that is full of personality and feels refreshingly genuine.

Parts of this book are descriptively gory and graphic. It carries a gothic, Tim Burton kind of air. If that's not your thing, pass on this book, but if you can appreciate that kind of stuff, then you might just fall in love with this book. The character development is done so well that I found myself able to relate to a character that acted in demented and psychopathic ways. I even found myself agreeing with justifications for some really twisted actions.

I treasured reading this book. Luckily for me I also have the sequel. But I think I'm going to put off reading it for a while because I don't want this story to end. This is one of those novels that I will never forget. I would love to see Tim Burton turn this into a movie, as I believe he could capture the atmosphere.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea exceeded my expectations by a mile. I found myself in love with the writing and the characters especially. They each had so much personality and were a bit eccentric. Every one of them felt like real people. I'm going to be on the look out of anything else by April Genevieve Tulcholke because she truly is an artist.
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,398 reviews1,104 followers
July 6, 2017
Not what I was expecting the first time. And sadly, not as good as I was hoping. For some reason, I thought I wanted to give the next book a shot, so I would need to reread this as I had forgotten parts. Apparently I had forgotten just about anything. Including how much I didn't really like this overall.

Three stars is even stretching it but the writing helped save this book from some of the most frustrating characters.

Let's start with Violet. Our "heroine" and narrator for the story. She has an obsession with her dead grandmother through the entire book. Wears her clothes, sleeps in her room and is continuously going through her grandmother's belongings looking for the elusive "something" for the past 5 years! Enough is enough and you need to move on with your life. Her best and only friend is a flirt with her brother and shows no depth as a character nor do I get their friendship. I saw nothing there. It was hollow.

The other main character is River. A mysterious teen who shows up to rent the guest house. No questions asked. He is a pathological liar and a major manipulator of everything around him. By the title and summary I expected this for other reasons but those reasons just kept dragging along without answer.

The other characters in the book also make little sense and are very one dimensional. No one seems to have depth or more than one personality aspect!

Then there is the insta-love. I have never been a big fan of this and this is worse than normal. Not only is Violet instantly cuddling and napping with this guy (even on the same day he takes her friend into a cave for a supposed make-out session) but even after she learns the truth she just keeps letting the guy use her while falsely saying no...Gah! I wanted to smack them both. This actually had me mad!

Now for the positive. Like I said at the beginning, I enjoyed the style in which this was written. An odd mix of southern and gothic (with a twinge of old west with the mine) feel to the story, depending what the focus was on. I was able to visualize the house, town, paintings, very clearly. It gives just enough to give is the scene, yet leaves plenty of room for our imagination to fill in the backround. For this reason I would be interested in possibly looking into something else by this author. Although if is is romance-centric I will be more skeptical.

This is heavy of the romance with a bit of a paranormal and horror addition that I wish had been brought more to the forefront. I felt a bit mislead by the summary.

Overall, an okay read. Possibly worth the read but not worth a lot of money. I can think of better books for my bucks. So a casual library recommendation when your to-read list gets low.
Profile Image for Suzan.
575 reviews
June 20, 2019
Sağlam bir kurgu beklerken ne olduğu belli olmayan değişik bir ergenimsi bir kitap çıkarak beni çook büyük bir hayal kırıklığına uğrattı 😢 toparlar mi dedim ama yok kıza deli gibi sinir oldum river yalancı pislik şeytan ama kızın derdi öpüşmek yiyismek salak 🙄
Profile Image for Lainey.
261 reviews1,571 followers
January 24, 2015
I'll definitely be picking up the second book in the duology. I was torn on the romance, whether I felt it was too insta-lovey or not, but I know 80% of that was influence, which I'm unsure how I felt about how River manipulated Violet so much. Which was why I knocked it down a star.

What I LOVED about this was the tone and the setting. It was creepy, and aspect I was definitely expecting based on what I've heard people say about this book. But you know what it reminded me of? It reminded me of True Blood (the TV show since I never read the books.) Obviously, there are no vampires in this, but just the characters and the setting, and I really liked this familiar feeling. Violet reminded me of Sookie a lot, especially how she thought and acted and even the way she dressed. I just liked all the characters, the situation, the town, the way it was written.

Me likey.
Profile Image for Hilly.
701 reviews1,262 followers
January 16, 2017
DNF 35%

I tried. I really tried.
The synopsis is so much better than the actual book. Everything is unrealistic, the writing style and the pacing are horrible, the characters are the dumbest I've ever read about. Not to mention that the story told was indescribably stupid + so boring!
This is maybe the worst book of all time.
Profile Image for Mauoijenn.
1,127 reviews111 followers
September 24, 2015
Well smack me silly.
I finally found a good YA book out of the whole stack I checked out the other day. This one had me reading it till I finished, which is always a good thing in my book. Loved the writing and the characters literally jump out at you from off the page. Kudos!
Profile Image for Jess.
446 reviews596 followers
August 6, 2014
Let’s play a game—a game of shots. Raise you’re glasses, ladies and gents, every time you see a name drop.

Audrey Hepburn, Faust, Fitzgerald, Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Heathcliff, Zane Grey, Sergio Leone.

Spare us uneducated plebeians.

We’d be drunk off our rockers by the end of this book.

I’m at a loss here. The writing is beautifully crafted, perhaps not up to exact perfection as there are awkward lines here and there, but it’s up there. Way above certain titles. So why did I give this two stars?

Because the cons outweigh this one pro.

I am very much aware that I preach fluid writing. It’s my thing. If it’s fluid, concise, has beautiful prose then I’ll give it love and a chance. I gave this it’s chance. I can’t, however, say I’ll give it my love.

Here’s the thing with lyrical prose: it works better in 3rd person. In order to achieve lyrical prose in first person, you’ve either got to chuck a We Were Liars, or have an unreliable narrator, be Luna Lovegood, or be willing to take that one step further into purple prose.

This book wanted lyrical prose. In first person. Unfortunately, it backfired.

Violet White, the protagonist, is just made to seem extremely out of touch with the world (there—I’m writing that very sensitively). She possesses an extremely hypocritical definition of friendship, is nonchalant towards the stupidest things, and wears clothes that border the line between vintage and the need for concern.

If we were basing this review off the first chapter then I would have given it 5 stars. It was a hell of a good introduction. Lots of ambiguity, and a great use of metaphors and story telling. It however all fell apart when we get a first hand idea of how Violet’s brain works.

Citizen Kane needed a new roof because the ocean wind beat the hell out of it, and Luke and I needed food. So I had the brilliant idea too rent out the guesthouse.

I’m sorry, Vi. Here’s life ringing to give you a well-needed lesson: rent the guesthouse out and you won’t even need the food when you’re dead. What possesses two seventeen year olds to think that renting out their guesthouse would be safe, let alone brilliant.

Sunshine, Violet’s “friend” (more on the quotation marks later on), is pretty much good for nothing, but she says one line that we’re all thinking:

“Violet, you’re so naive”

Damn right she is. C’mon, the girl doesn’t even lock the doors to her house. With her common sense, its truly a miracle she’s even survived in life for so long, what with her parents traipsing around Europe (which, may I add, is a bloody piece of convenience). TSTL protagonists’ just kill me.

Speaking of Sunshine, what was the need for her again? She’s “apparently” not Violet’s friend.

We were the same age, and while we weren’t really friends, we were each other’s only neighbours.

Let me as you this: what constitutes being a friend? Is there now some modern definition that I’m too regressive to know about? How do you treat your friends? If my neighbour was hanging out with my brother, and myself, every fucking second of the day, joking and sharing in the same experiences, would it not be plausible to conclude that they were being my friend?

I got really confused throughout this (surprise, surprise). Violet establishes that Sunshine is neither friend nor foe. But then she juxtaposes herself at every conner.

River was taking my side against Luke. Sunshine never did that.

Yeah, well no shit Vi. You literally just said that you guys weren’t friends. Why would you expect anything?

The thing is, they treat one another like friends. Which left me questioning, if that isn’t a friend, then what the fuck do we all have? Neighbours?!

“…Let’s, you know, go play in the Citizen’s attic. It’ll be fun. Come on.”

Luke played sport and had sports friends, during the school year at least. All I had was Sunshine, and Sunshine…was Sunshine.

Alright, you said you weren’t fucking friends. Don’t be hypocritical. Why not just begin it by saying you were friends, but she valued your brother more or something. There was no need to establish something stupid, just in order to pass it off later and be inconsistent. I hate inconsistency.

The thing is, Sunshine is portrayed in a sexual manner. She’s a sexualised character. I’m fine and dandy with that all, except in this instance. Sunshine’s only role is to be a sexualised character that is present to be slut-shamed. If you cut her out, nothing would change. She is purely a device to make good ol’ Vi look even more like a pure, white flake of snow.

I don’t care how pure Violet is, and I certainly don’t need Sunshine to be slut-shamed to tell me that.

I licked my lips. But not how Sunshine would do it. I did it like I meant it.

“...Sunshine probably had it coming”

“What news?” Sunshine asked. She put her ice cream spoon in her mouth and pulled it back out, nice and slow. “I don’t read the newspapers. They make my head hurt.”

She is the most unimportant character there is. Her only role is to make Violet seem like a better character, and even in that she fails. Slut-shaming Sunshine will not make me like Violet any more than the meagre amount I already do.

If you read my previous review on Compulsion ( CLICK HERE FOR REVIEW: get excited, hate!Jess returns), then you’d have read about my aversion to the foot, and all associating things. Let me put the same disclaimer here: I do not care what you do with your own foot. That is your own business. I just have a particular aversion to knowing about feet. Feet are feet, yes, but I don’t necessarily like to acknowledge them. It’s a little aversion I’ve built. Thus, if I can’t stand them to begin with, why would I ever want to read descriptions about them.

What are the odds that I would move from one foot fetish book to another. Highly probable, it may seem.

Is this retribution for complaining about the whole leather flip-flop situation? Because if I thought Compulsion was bad, then this book is ten-fold. Shall I do you all the pleasure of congregating all the foot mentions into one?

I slipped the sandal off my right foot and tapped my toes on the stone step…

I slipped my sandal back onto my right foot…

I slipped off my flip-flops…

I awoke with the sun on my toes.

…knees bent, his pretty, bare feet tucked halfway into the sand.

…I wavered back and forth on my feet.

He was barefoot again. He didn’t like to wear his shoes. Which I liked because I liked his feet.

He wasn’t wearing any socks, and he had nice feet, especially for a boy—strong and tan and smooth and beautiful, you almost couldn’t call them feet anymore.

That last quote is just too much for me. It’s one thing to nonchalantly mention feet in the passing, but that was an intense description that I don’t even have to contend with in reality. I’d rather not have to read about it.

My next criticism is less subjective. Perhaps it was the certain way that the author wanted to characterise her fictional world, but I’ll be damned if she wanted to evoke empathy within me. If you want empathy there must be a degree of realism. It’s not too hard; a bit of common sense and good dialogue is all it takes. This book does neither.

Every character in Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is plagued with a tragically dangerous sense of nonchalance. They are honestly out of touch with the world, ethics, morals and everything that makes up humanity.

“We all see things sometimes. When I was your age, I was so in love with Wuthering Heights that I convinced myself Heathcliff really existed…I took a bus up to Yorkshire and set out to find him. I walked for twenty three miles across the moors, following what I thought was Heathcliff’s shadow, stretching across the heather, calling me to him…”

I’m sorry Mrs. Black, but don’t pass that off as normal. That isn’t normal. That’s fucking weird and could potentially be a foreshadowing sign.

And River! How could he possibly be romanticised. What he does is sickening and a complete and utter disregard for ethics, morals, respect and pretty much anything decent. I’m simply flabbergasted at the fact that no one is dramatically affected by his disgusting character. I’m not putting this lightly. He is a fucking psycho. Is he the biggest psycho of all? No. But that doesn’t make it any better.

“Look, I know that River’s done…bad things.” Neely paused…I hate it so much. But River is my brother. He was there every time I shot my mouth off as a kid…”

And cue subsequent retelling of an array of moving tales from the childhood. But you know what? It doesn’t justify it. Sure, he was a good brother, but this has nothing to do with it. If anything, it just proves his cold nature; he’s incapable of hurting his family, and perfectly fine with destroying the rest of humanity. If we’re doing ratios, then thats fucking 1: a couple of fucking billion. The attempt to justify River’s actions, romanticise his motives, is not natural.

I’ll personally pay for classes on “how to make dialogue parallel to reality”, because that’s the key to writing an engaging YA book. God knows why most authors haven’t picked up on that!

“…I say we men skip the grocery store and go check it out”

What are they? 16? 17? Surely they’re capable of conversing like adults by now, or anything with a semblance to adult hood. It’s one thing to write in lyrical prose, but it’s another thing entirely when you botch up the dialogue.

God, at times, reading Violet’s spiel I had moments of deja vu. It was like reading a fucking female Holden Caulfied. The whole old money obsession starting getting old the third time round and turned into a (and that’s saying something because I’m actually one of the rare few who can stand The Catcher in the Rye) whine about how unfair life is and blah blah blah.

“I can’t get a job. If you come from old money, you have to run through it all and then drink yourself to death in the gutter. Getting a job isn’t allowed”

First of all, you’re not even old money Violet. Your money is literally traced back like two generations, at the very least. What the fuck do you think old money is?! Secondly, “can’t get a job”? The only thing she needs is a welcome knock in the face by reality.

I also had a massive problem with certain descriptions. Here’s a rule of thumb: if you’re not up for purple prose then, by all means, play around with metaphors as much as you want but don’t use metaphors for descriptions of taste, breath and literal imagery. If I could fault Shatter Me on anything, it would be that. Too many damn metaphors don’t make a good book, they make a raging audience with terrible headaches who’ve all lost the meaning of the book between the vast sea of abstract imagery.

It just would be hypocritical for me to pass this up—I mean I happily complained about Jeb.

River’s kiss tasted like coffee and storms and secrets.

Mhhhmmm I love the taste of storms and secrets. What the actual fuck. Violet, pray tell, where have you had this delectable delicacy called storms? Is that a euphemism for slobber? Saliva? And secrets, they must be pretty tasty too.

Olive oil and tomato juice were running down my chin and I couldn’t have cared less.

I had to stop and think here, for a moment. I just couldn’t separate the idea from being a metaphor and being reality. If it was the former, then there’s leeway for understanding. Except, it was the latter; a good ol’ vision painted of a 16 year old girl, dribbling olive oil. Picture perfect. If that was meant to allude to how mesmerised she was by River, then I’m sure there are less primitive descriptions to paint. Save the cave-man!Violet for the end of civilisation, please.

For a second there was even an attempt at a love triangle. Damn that trope. I know I said that I never used to mind it, purely because if I complained all the damn time, it’ll probably be to a ratio of 1:2. But stop. I’m sick and tired now. I feel like my raging youth days are over and I’ve become some conservative ol’ lady. Monogamy! I vote for monogamy!

Essentially, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea had no definitive plot; it was implausible. Sure there was the simple three steps to writing a story—orientation, complication, resolution—but heck, it doesn’t mean it was good. The biggest plot hole in the damned book is motivation. What the fuck even motivates the situation that arose? Curiosity, sibling rivalry? It doesn’t make sense. Why would anyone waste any time and trouble to fuck these characters over? Perhaps that is trivial, but it underpins the gap in the plot.

I'm one to enjoy a decent funny line. An any book/genre/style of writing. If there's a funny line, then I'm game. Sarcasm and one-liners have become this requisite for YA titles. It's just a matter how much the author wants to have--I say, the more the merrier. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea says take that notion and get fucked.

"No," Neely said. "You played God."
"I am a God"
Neely threw an arm in the air. "Well there you go. What can I say to that? How do I reason with a god?"

There were three funny lines, and they didn't even seem intentional. Sometimes I have to beg certain books to give me something to like. It's not fun being a big pool of hate. Neely appears three quarters into the book, and it is only upon the addition of him that these elusive funny lines appear. I don't care for him as a character, because his logics are just as fucked up, but if he's the one bringing the funny then I suppose he should be the only one who deserves to stay.

I will admit, I liked how the mystical element of this book was heighten by the ambiguous writing. In fact, there were only two perfect things that I could take away from this book. The first of which was this lovely piece of foreshadowing.

“Sunshine, if I ever disappear, please tell people that I ran after the Devil, trying to get my soul back.”

Now, I don’t want to speak for everyone else but doesn’t it just feel like the premise for the next book. Either way there is something so hypnotic about that line. I’m mesmerised by it. It has such a desperate, vintage essence to it, that just seems to haunt me. But, I could have lived very much happily having read a plot summary and that quote on a cup and have called this book a day.

This book also used one of my favourite mantras that unfortunately contradicts a whole lot of other beliefs that I have.

Ignorance is bliss.

Orwell had it right. The above statement is stark, but it is true. As I am the queen of subjectivism, that alone is worth a star. Everything else conjugates into the other star.

You know what? I’ll even personally demonstrate to you why I’m such a firm believer in said phrase. If you are anything like me, horrendously superficial, easily swayed by a beautiful cover (because who am I to deny the praise that that fabulous cover deserves) and charmed by a lyrical title (because that has been the best book title that I've seen in a mighty while--which then turned out to be ripped off from a song), then I can pretty much just say this: Ignorance is bliss, my friend. Ignorance is bliss.
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