OK, so Halloween has come and gone, as quick as lightning, but I did manage to somehow celebrate it by reading a couple of mystery & horror books, plus a children’s spook book. The book I’m going to talk to you about in this post kept me on the edge of my seat (so to speak) and I almost lost a night’s sleep over it: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, by April Genevieve Tucholke. If you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s a Young Adult novel, with elements of horror, gore, mystery and love sprinkled throughout.
I found out about this book on Epic Reads, where several YA books were recommended for Halloween. I don’t know why, but this one in particular sparked my interest a bit more than the others. Maybe the “poetic” title did the trick, I have no idea. Anyway, I picked it up and I started reading it with NO EXPECTATIONS whatsoever. I was only looking for a change of scenery, and while I hoped I’d like it, I was certainly not anticipating loving it. But OH EM GEE! I digged it so, so much! I can’t say that I found it to be so awesome just because I hadn’t read anything like it before, because that wouldn’t be true. I really enjoyed Tucholke’s writing style, the way she created and introduced the characters to the story, and I also really liked the prevailing dark atmosphere, despite of the oh-so-obvious love story going on. But let me elaborate a bit on that, please. 🙂
I thought the setting was the main ominous element in this book, since we have strange things happening in a small town, a large house almost in ruins that overlooks the ocean and is situated on a cliff, we have twins, a boy and a girl, left all by themselves by their Europe-meandering artist parents, we have a strange stranger (yeah, that was intentional) coming into town and shaking things up, and we also have the nearly tangible presence of the Devil. Whatever that means. 😀
This is how the story goes: Violet and Luke White are twins, they’re seventeen, they live in a small town called Echo and they are the descendants of one of the wealthiest families in the area. Now, they are poor. Because life and because crazy parents. Since their parents had always had other things on their mind than their children, Vi and Luke were raised by Freddie, their grandmother on their father’s side. After Freddie’s death, five years prior, Vi and Luke were left on their own with no one but each other to look out for them. Once their painter parents go abroad to Europe and the two are left alone in the house, money becomes scarce and Vi thinks of a solution to their problems: renting out the guesthouse of the mansion. To her surprise, a young guy called River West comes to the rescue, willing to rent the guesthouse and give them the money necessary to buy food and pay the utilities. So far, so good. However, River is a sly dude, he always avoids answering questions, and when he does, he lies. Violet notices this aspect, but her fascination with him (and his crooked smile, and lazy gaze, and whatnot) is on the rise, so she keeps quiet. Soon, weird things start happening in their little town, and Luke and Sunshine, who is their closest neighbour and their friend, are asking themselves in jest whether the end of the world is nigh. Oh, they have no idea!
I really don’t want to spoil you, since every little thing you find out about River in this book is meant to add to the general eerie atmosphere, but let me tell you this: whether he’s the Devil or something resembling the Devil or just a plain human being, he is nice to Violet. He shows her a certain tenderness that is not on the cheesy side but rather on the oh-I’m-so-mysterious-so-love-me side. I didn’t feel anything for River at first, because his character is so mysterious and his actions are puzzling, but I found myself warming up to him in the second half of the book. I understood his actions, his attitude towards people, and also, I genuinely felt for him when I found out about his father’s behaviour to him. Whom I really, really loved and adored, however, was Neely, River’s younger brother. Violet makes a very descriptive comparison between the two, and she says that while River is dark, secretive and sexy, resembling the night, Neely is bright, open and warm, just like sunshine. Indeed, Neely is this book’s ray of light. He’s the one keeping River in check, he’s the one comforting Violet, he’s just perfect. And needless to say, my favourite character in the bunch! 😀
As for all the other characters, let me just say that they were really well built, they each had their own personality, their own voice, and I actually thought of them as people, and not characters necessarily. Violet vexed the hell out of me, because one moment I’d love her, and the next I’d just want to slap her in the face. Jack was a cute addition to the book, and I liked how the author “used” him to make Violet and Luke feel less alone. I downright hated Brodie (you’ll see who I’m talking about) and I just wanted to obliterate him, if I could. Freddie seemed like such a sweetheart, even though she was already dead when the book started and all I found out about her was through Violet. And I seriously disliked the twins’ parents. They didn’t even deserve to be called parents. Really. Disliked. Them. As for all the other characters, you’ll just have to find out on your own about them! It’s worth it, trust me!
All in all, I gave this book a rating of 4 out of 5 stars, since I digged it like crazy, even though it did not have the “WOW” factor in it. The ending part was pretty intense, though, and I’d give it a 5-star rating, because… just WOW! It was 3 a.m. when I finished the book, and I had such an adrenaline rush hangover that you wouldn’t even believe. However, a word of caution: the ending is quite open, since Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is part of a duology. The second book, Between the Spark and the Burn, which I’m planning to pick up really soon, continues the story and hopefully it will be just as good as the first, if not better. So don’t expect things to end cosily, because you’ll just be disappointed. As for me, I can’t wait to see what happens next to Vi and River and Neely! Their story is unique and I feel like this two-book series may become one of my favourite YA stories ever. Yeah, that good! 😀 So dig in, you won’t regret it! Beautiful writing, engaging story, unique characters, dark atmosphere, weird love story, all that jazz. You’ll be glued to it.
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