Title: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Author: April G. Tucholke
Expected Publication: April 1st 2014 by Faber & Faber Children’s Books (UK Edition)
Format: Ebook, provided via NetGalley
Violet White lives in a mansion at the sea, together with her twin brother Luke. Their parents are artists and left them to do artistic stuff in Europe. Violet’s family used to have a lot of money, but her parents took almost everything with them when they left. Violet and her brother are running out of money, and therefore they decide to rent out the guesthouse. And River West, a handsome, mysterious guy, is going to rent the guesthouse. But from the day River moves in, strange things have been happening in their little town, Echo. For example, a little girl goes missing and all the other kids blame it on the devil because one guy says he has seen the devil. And this is not the only mysterious incident. Could there be a connection between the strange incidents and River?
What I liked about the book
The first thing that I liked about this book was the opening line which sounded very promising. “You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand.” I found this very interesting and was immediately triggered to keep on reading. Another thing I liked is something that I immediately noticed: the writing style. The author has a very poetic way of telling and describing things, and I already noticed this after the first few pages. For example, she describes the mansion as “an aging ballerina who looked young and supple from far away, but up close had grey at her temples and lines by her eyes and a scar on one cheek”. Also, the horror parts were really well-written and creeped the hell out of me. I didn’t really like that because I am so easily scared, but it is supposed to be a scary book so the author did great on that part!
The last thing I really liked about this book were the abilities of some of the characters. I won’t tell which character could do what, because that spoils much of the story. But I hadn’t read about such abilities before and I found it very interesting. However, I think this concept could have been explored and worked out much better, and therefore I’ll show you some problems I had with this book as well.
What I did not like about the book
My main problem with this book is the romance. Even the blurb suggests instalove, but I still decided to read this book because I wanted to read something in this gothic/horror scene. I am glad I did, because now I know that horror is definitely not my cup of tea, just as I expected. But again, the romance in this book really bothered me. Violet fell in love with River the moment he drove up her lawn in his car and smiled at her with his cliché crooked smile. I like crooked smiles too, but it was mentioned way too often in this book. Despite all the horrific things that happened in her town, all the things that Violet could think about was River with his crooked smile. Even though she suspects there is something wrong with him, she keeps kissing him and even sleeps next to him when he asks her to.
Another thing I really did not like about this book were the characters. They all came across really flat to me. Even though there were a lot of things that should have impacted Violet in many ways, she didn’t really change. Also, her brother and other characters didn’t change at all. Only their neighbour, Sunshine, changed drastically but that wasn’t developed very well. It was described in a few sentences that she had changed a lot and that she was not the girl she used to be, but that was it. No examples, no dialogues, nothing to show to what extent all the events have impacted her. Overall, the instalove and flat characters made this story a lot worse than it could have been.
Would I recommend this book?
I would recommend this book to people who like gothic/horror stories and can look past the intsalove. The horror-scenes were really well-written and although I am too much of a coward to read something like this again, I kind of enjoyed it. The story was very interesting and I had trouble putting this book down. But that could also have been because of the fact that I was just too scared to go to sleep and just kept reading instead. If you’re just as much a coward as I am, or you can’t stand instalove, I don’t think this is the book for you.
I would like to thank Faber & Faber and NetGalley for providing this book to me for a review.