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Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Book Name: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Publisher(s): Dial
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / eBook
Genre(s): YA Horror / Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance
Release Date: August 15, 2013

This is YA fantasy with a dash of horror, although, being in the fantasy genre, the horror part can be fairly debatable. Perhaps it is the YA aspect that renders the characters and events to be on the creepy side. For me, it was just a sense of eeriness throughout the book, like you just know something is not right.

Violet and Luke White (twins) and their neighbor Sunshine Black live in the small seaside town of Echo (color names seem to be the theme). In the section of town where the “old money” estates are crumbling along with their wealth, the three teenagers find that their summer is about to get a lot more interesting with the new tenant in the guesthouse on Violet and Luke’s estate. Violet had put up the ad in an effort to pay the bills and feed themselves after their parents took off on an artist’s trip to Europe for months and did not bother to say when they would return. Violet and Luke’s grandmother, who had been taking care of them during their parents’ absences, has passed away, and the twins are left to fend for themselves.

River West, the new stranger in town, has decided he does not want to live with his uncle, to whom he has been cast off after his parents took off as well. He looks for a place of his own and chooses Violet and Luke’s guesthouse, sight unseen, after meeting Violet. Seventeen-year-old Violet has never had a boyfriend, but River has triggered a new awakening. River is mysterious, can cook like a chef, and even though strange happenings start to occur after his arrival, it doesn’t stop Violet from taking a little nap with him the very first day and constantly convincing herself that none of it matters. Of course, the plot twist towards the end conveniently excuses Violet from her asinine behavior.

The creepiness of the book can be attributed to children running around a cemetery with homemade stakes, ghostly visions appearing in the moonlight, stories of boyfriends murdering their girlfriends in the attic, etc. Descriptions of old mansions can send chills up your spine, but the mystery that is the Devil? I’m still waiting…

Who or what the Devil is supposed to be is the main question, if it is to be judged by the book cover’s synopsis. I found that I really didn’t care as much as I should have. I was distracted by descriptions of which coast the town of Echo was really on (references to people coming all the way from Portland – Maine or Oregon?). Echo is also another town in the state of Oregon – west coast), but the families of “old money” originate from the East Coast, hence the mansions were built on the seaside cliffs of the Atlantic? Perhaps it is just my obsession with details, but I like to know where the story is based so I can make sense of the details given about the town.

Then we have the main characters who are all children (17-year-old teenagers are still children) running about the town with no adults paying any attention, nor care to. Apparently, parental supervision is only a suggestion here. Violet and Luke’s grandmother looked out for them until her death and left a lasting impression on Violet, who wears her antique clothes, prays to her, continually searches for some lost/buried letters, and is on the lookout for the Devil.

Character and plot development seem to be all over the place. I appreciate the sense of mystery but relationships are frivolous (Luke and Sunshine), lack depth and chemistry (Violet and River), and new characters are introduced (Neely, Brodie) as the answer to unexplained questions. However, since character development is rather shallow, the new characters bring more questions than answers.

What I did like about the book is that it is not your typical YA fantasy. It is set in modern times, but the fantastical aspect is unique, probably due to the creepiness factor. The build-up to the plot twist/secret reveal is engaging enough to keep you turning the pages. However, the romantic aspect that is supposed to be a main point of the story? Contrived, at best, especially after River’s secret is revealed.

If you want a different take on YA fantasy and enjoy some chills with your fantasy read, give this debut novel a try. There will be more to come, as it is to be yet another series, but I think I will pass.


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