Title: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
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.
When I first saw this cover, I was intrigued, but pretty covers do not always good books make. When I read the summary, I thought it sounded interesting, but good books can have bad summaries and the opposite is certainly true. Then I started reading rave reviews, I was getting properly excited. When I got it from the library, I was so excited. So, that made me even more disappointed when I made it about a fourth of the way through and couldn’t bring myself to read anymore.
One of my main problems with this book was main character Violet. Now, I love the name “Violet.” If a character is named Violet, I really want to like her. Well, unfortunately this particular Violet seemed to besmirch the awesomeness of the name, at least in my opinion. She started off alright, just a little irritating. She was the type of girl who liked old-fashioned things and had been drinking coffee from an extremely young age (now, this is a pet peeve of mine, but luckily the book addressed the fact that the coffee was not good for her height during the fun period of puberty in which she started consuming way too much caffeine). Unfortunately, my good feelings toward Violet kind of ended there. Mostly Violet seemed very pretentious and self-absorbed, to the point where I was agreeing with and cheering on the town drunk or whatever the kept popping up to call Violet and her family snobs. One of my biggest problems with Violet and her elitism was when she went grocery shopping and was amazed to see that soon-to-be-love-interest River knew how to shop the right way. Um, excuse me, but how the hell is there a right way?! Especially when the “right way” just seems to mean that you don’t just stop to smell the roses, but you smell every single freaking hunk of cheese you can get your hands on as well. I’m sorry that some of us have lives that keep us from spending hours shopping for a handful of ingredients.
Then there’s love interest River. I definitely saw some instalove going on, and even if that’s meant to happen to show that River is Not OK or whatever, it was much too irritating for me. River started off alright, but he quickly reached Violet levels of pretentiousness or whatever. I didn’t care about him, I didn’t care about Violet, I didn’t care about his mysterious past – all these things certainly made it hard for me to give a damn about the romance, which seemed to be picking up way too much by the time I put it aside.
Then there are the secondary characters. There’s Violet’s twin brother, whom she apparently hates with a passion (although River seems to think that she really loves him or something, which I didn’t see, and I was stuck in the freaking girl’s head), and who just didn’t feel like much of a character. Was he a misogynistic jerk who could care less about the people around him, or was he a scared and insecure little boy putting up a scary mask to push people away? I felt like I was supposed to hate him, but there’s just wasn’t enough of him for me to even care about him, let alone share in Violet’s despising of him.
The thing that really ticked me off, though, was the treatment of Sunshine. At first, I thought she was Violet’s best friend, but apparently she’s just the neighbor Violet hangs out with because she has no one else to talk to or something? And she possibly likes Violet’s brother and loves to flirt with him or whatever, and Violet is always belittling and judging and basically slut shaming Sunshine, both out loud and in her head. I get the feeling that I’m supposed to look down on Sunshine as well, but honestly I just felt so bad for the poor girl. Her author certainly didn’t seem to like her, so I might as well be her one supporter. The poor, misunderstood girl.
So, with Violet and River getting more irritating and instaloving, the mystery being weird and disorienting and hard to follow, and the secondary characters being judged and not fleshed out nearly enough, I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. I couldn’t bear to be in the head of such a snobby girl, especially when I feel like she’s not supposed to come across as a snob. I wish I had loved this book like so many other reviewers have, but obviously it is just not the book for me.