Sunday, September 22, 2013

Stephanie Reviews: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

(Goodreads Blurb)
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.

From a young age, Violet had listened to her grandmother, Freddie, warn her about the devil, but she never imagined in a million years she’d be sharing a bed with him.

Violet and her twin brother, Luke live in a dilapidated mansion by the sea. Their artist parents left them months ago to peruse careers in Europe, and their money has finally run out.  When Violet hangs a flier in their small, sleepy town to rent their small cottage, she doesn’t expect anyone to respond. Never in her wildest dreams did she expect River West- the sexy, mysterious boy to take up residence in more than just her cottage. When she falls for him, despite the fact that he disappears often, and lies just as much, she realizes that the intense pull she feels for him isn’t something she can control. Strange things begin to happen in the town, people acting crazy and seeing things that aren’t really there… and River always seems to be attached to the happenings. And even though Violet knows River is bad, she is torn between love and hate for him.

I really, really liked this book for a bunch of different reasons. One thing was the setting. This dilapidated mansion that was once something to be envied, set on a cliff high above the ocean is just perfect. You get this creepy sense of the place, like there’s a constant fog hanging about and something just waiting to crawl under your skin.

Second, the history of the characters. There is a whole arc about Freddie and her past, which ties River and eventually, his two brothers to Violet. The mystery unfolds slowly, and when you put all their pieces together, it is such a satisfying revelation.

Third, the characters. I loved Violet’s quiet quirkiness and her fondness for old things including her grandmother’s clothing and going through her old letters and her unapologetic attitude about not having friends and being okay with that. Freddie, even though she’d died five years past, was mentioned so much you feel like she’s a living character throughout the story.  Violet’s sort of best friend Summer and her brother, Luke’s relationship was honest and real, and at times blushingly unabashed. And the moments between Violet and River were swoony, making the reader understand how Vi could be so torn over him, but still feel this incredible draw that made her question her won integrity, but not care either way. When River’s brother Neely, comes into town, you feel how deep and palpable their love and mutual respect for one another runs.

What I most enjoyed, was the fact that this book was timeless. I wasn’t able to tell if it was set or written in 1960 or 2013. It was different from any other YA book I’ve read, really historical almost, and supernatural with a dark twist. There’s talk of the devil quite a bit, but not necessarily in a religious way. 

The only thing I didn’t care for was the ending. I think the author left it open for a sequel which I will devour, because I’d like to see more of Violet and River’s relationship bloom.  I might even venture to say that I’m curious what would happen if she dare chose the other brother, who is charming and sweet- much better suited for her, but not nearly as much of a bad boy as River. And we do love our bad boys.

I’d give this 4.5 stars out of 5.

Check out the recipe for Eggs in a Frame that River makes Vi in the book.  I know it doesn't look special, but Violet is so in awe of the way he puts such thought and care into cooking and there's even a moment she decides she wants to kiss his back; so out of character for her. The author makes you salivate over something so simple.

Review by Stephanie

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