Book Review: Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke


“Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” is a very apt title for April Genevieve Tucholke’s debut novel. Not only is the title directly related to the plot, the main character is quite caught between a devil and deep blue sea, both literally and figuratively, but the title gives off this timeless, whimsical vibe that fits this novel perfectly. Gorgeously written, Tucholke takes us on a unique and mysterious journey.

Violet White lives an big, old mansion right by the shore with her twin brother, Luke. Nothing exciting ever happens in their sleepy small town called Echo. Violet spends much of her time reading, hanging out with her only friend, Sunshine, and missing her parents who left her and her brother months ago for Paris. Running out of money, Violet decides to rent out their guesthouse. In comes River West, an attractive new boy in town looking for a place to live. Violet instantly finds herself fascinated by the mysterious River. She can’t help but notice that there’s something odd about him though. When strange things start to happen all throughout town, Violet has no choice but to consider if River is the cause of them.

between the devil and the deep blue seaFrom its first pages, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is absorbing and atmospheric. Tucholke’s writing style draws you in and makes you feel like you’re in another world. It’s subtle with its horror and thoroughly gothic. It’s the first time I was drawn in by detail and description, not only by the characters and the plot.

Violet is what you would call an old soul trapped in a teenage girl’s body. She’s different and knows she is but doesn’t really care. She dresses in her grandmother Freddie’s clothes and often thinks of her, trying to uncover Freddie’s secrets. Her constant memories of Freddie reminding her to watch out for “the Devil” are eerie, adding to the already gothic atmosphere. It’s hard not to admire Violet; I immediately found myself sympathizing and worrying as she got closer to the elusive River.

The romance is twisty and really the driving force of the narrative. Violet can’t explain her attraction to River, despite feeling like something is off about him. She knows he lies and avoids the truth, yet she finds herself trusting in his arms again and again. Their romance is suspenseful with Violet trying to figure out the real deal with River and what it could mean for their relationship. The plot does lose a little momentum midway through, but eventually picks up and leads to a conclusion that you likely won’t see coming.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea—although contemporary fiction—definitely feels as timeless as its title. Once I reached the end, I found myself wanting more from this story and characters; luckily a sequel is the works. For those who groan that there aren’t many standalone books in YA anymore, we need more gothic horror in the YA genre, especially something that is as lush, eerie and entertaining as this book.

Rating: 8.5/10

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea hits shelves on August 15, 2013.

Book Info:

Publisher:  Dial Books (August 15, 2013)
Length: 368 pages (Hardcover)
Series:  Between #1
Source: ARC (Provided by Publisher)
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Gothic, Horror
Completed: August 2013

Gabrielle is 27 years old and lives in Chicago. She enjoys writing about film, TV, and books, but occasionally writes about music as well. In addition to writing for, she also the editor-in-chief and a co-founder. In her spare time, she’s either watching more movies and shows or reading more books, while continuously checking Twitter, which she may or may not be addicted to… Feel free to email her your thoughts, ideas and questions.