Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
  • Alternative view 1 of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
  • Alternative view 2 of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

4.3 44
by April Genevieve Tucholke

See All Formats & Editions

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 guesthouse 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


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 guesthouse 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.

A gothic thriller romance with shades of Stephen King and F. Scott Fitzgerald, set against a creepy summertime backdrop—a must-read for fans of Beautiful Creatures, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, and Anna Dressed in Blood.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Tucholke debuts with a thoroughly eerie novel set in a quintessential horror-story location: a quaint Maine town. Violet White and her 17-year-old twin brother are living in the dilapidated glory of their family’s coastal estate while their parents traipse Europe. To help pay the bills, Violet places an ad for a boarder for their guesthouse; it’s quickly answered by River West, a mysterious boy who cannily avoids giving straight answers about his past. Violet doesn’t typically pay boys much mind, but she’s soon spending the night with River, both drawn to and wary of him. The enigma of who or what River is pulls readers through the story with steady, unsettling momentum, especially as frightening visions and events pile up (at one point, the town’s children form a ragtag army, ready to battle the Devil with wooden stakes) and family secrets come to light. Tucholke luxuriates in the details of small-town life, including her characters’ gourmand tendencies and their quick-witted interactions, in a chilling supernatural exploration of free will and reality’s fluidity. Ages 14–up. Agent: Joanna Volpe, New Leaf Literary & Media. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
“Looking for dark and eerie read to cap off the end of the summer season? Look no further than April Genevieve Tucholke’s YA debut, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.”

“If you liked Beautiful Creatures (the book or the movie), Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea is right up your alley. It has a similar gothic romance you'll be rooting for the whole book through!”
“Deliciously creepy.”

“A perfect read for stormy summer nights.”
The Boston Globe

“Mysterious hotties, eerie events and gothic supernatural romance in a crumbling mansion on the lonely coast of Maine… We totally want this book to be our new boyfriend.”

“Magnificent prose, fascinating histories of residents in the seaside town, and a boy with a disturbing ability rarely seen in today's young adult books. Share the first of this trilogy with fans of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone.”
Shelf Awareness

*“A stunning debut with complex characters, an atmospheric setting, and a distinct voice… Tucholke has real talent.”
VOYA, starred review
*“Tucholke’s gothic tone, plot, and setting, complete with a deteriorating estate full of dark family secrets, is reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier or YA fare such as Kami Garcia’s and Margaret Stohl’s Beautiful Creatures). Give this one to fans of creepy mysteries, particularly tales that don’t skimp on the violence.”
SLJ, starred review
“A chilling supernatural exploration of free will and reality’s fluidity.”
Publishers Weekly

“Tucholke strikes just the right balance between the windswept, seaside setting and Violet’s interior struggles with right and wrong.”

“A rich blend of gothic horror and modern romance… A lush setting and provocative characters elevate this debut above others in the supernatural-romance genre.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Lavishly rendered, darkly romantic, and beautifully unsettling—Tucholke’s debut isn't a book you'll soon forget.”
—Melissa Marr, New York Times bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series

“Like something between a disturbed dream and a wicked fantasy, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea will slip under your skin and capture the darkest corners of your imagination. This is a hypnotic, terrifying debut that won't soon escape my mind.”
—Nova Ren Suma, author of Imaginary Girls

“Tucholke’s story of devils, innocence, and family secrets is lush and rhythmic as a song. Seductive with a capital ‘S.’”
—Kendare Blake, author of Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares

VOYA - Amy Fiske
"You stop fearing the Devil when you're holding his hand" is how this eerie, seductive novel opens, hinting at what is to come. Front and center is Violet White, a smart, quirky teen with a fascination with the past. Aiding and abetting this fascination is the Citizen, a fading old seaside mansion that Violet shares with twin brother Luke and their absentee, artist parents. When Violet and Luke rent out the guesthouse to supplement their dwindling funds, Violet's sleepy summer takes a delightfully intriguing turn. Into the story strolls River West, with his classic car, crooked smile, and air of danger. Eerie, unexpected things begin to happen: disappearances, supernatural appearances, sudden explosions of violence, death. Violet begins to wonder about her new tenant: charming bad boy or something more sinister? Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea is a stunning debut with complex characters, an atmospheric setting, and a distinct voice. Tucholke's command of imagery and language is especially striking; the Citizen becomes a character in its own right, it is so well drawn. Violet and the other main characters are unique individuals who display real depth as they navigate difficult circumstances and ethical dilemmas. Tension builds throughout the novel as the story progresses from intriguing to deliciously eerie to downright creepy and unsettling. There are some episodes of shocking violence; although never gratuitous, they may not appeal to some readers. That said, Tucholke has real talent and, hopefully, will be writing for years to come. Reviewer: Amy Fiske
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—With their beloved grandmother, Freddie, deceased and their artistic, absentee parents blowing the family money abroad, 17-year-old twins Violet and Luke are as neglected as Citizen Kane, their formerly grand and now dilapidated home on a seaside cliff. Antagonistic Luke and sultry neighbor Sunshine are Violet's only company until she rents the guesthouse to enigmatic River West. His crooked smile, discerning palate, and penchant for lying leave Violet both enamored and distrustful. He is cavalier with the mind-manipulating supernatural power he is unable, and somewhat reluctant, to control. In a small town with its fair share of lurid tales, River's appearance brings with it devil sightings, missing children, and disturbing deaths. Tucholke's gothic tone, plot, and setting, complete with a deteriorating estate full of dark family secrets, is reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier or YA fare such as Kami Garcia's and Margaret Stohl's Beautiful Creatures (Little, Brown, 2009). Violet's narration is frank and perceptive, livened with humor and an almost poetically descriptive lilt. She is a combination of naive and mature, having grown up in relative seclusion with limited supervision. Violet and River's attraction is palpable, but their romance is tainted by his shifty morals and shady charm. Swearing and sexual situations are non-gratuitous. Adults are easily appeased and generally turn a blind eye. Give this one to fans of creepy mysteries, particularly tales that don't skimp on the violence. They'll appreciate the conclusion's heart-pounding, bile-rising standoff.—Danielle Serra, Cliffside Park Public Library, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
When their money runs out, Violet White decides to rent out the guesthouse behind her family's aging estate, but she is not prepared for the new tenant, who is either part god or all devil. Seventeen-year-old Violet and her twin brother, Luke, have been raised by their bohemian artist parents and their grandmother, Freddie. However, when Freddie dies and their parents leave for Europe, the teens face a long, hot, boring summer all alone. Everything changes with the arrival of River West, a mysterious boy with dark hair, a suspicious past and a strange power that even he does not fully understand. River reveals himself as a liar, a supernatural vigilante and a great kisser. Unfortunately, by the time Violet realizes the danger, she is hopelessly in love. This first installment in a new series is a rich blend of gothic horror and modern romance, studded with nods toward literary, cinematic and musical classics. A lush setting and provocative characters elevate this debut above others in the supernatural-romance genre. However, readers willing to press through the meandering plot will still need to negotiate Violet's moral ambiguity in the face of River's evil actions. A sumptuous, if soulless romance; here's hoping for a little more heart in the sequel. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)
HL670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

“You stop fearing the Devil when you’re holding his hand.”

Freddie said this to me, when I was little.

Everyone called my grandmother by her nickname, even my parents, because, as she put it, Freddie, short for Fredrikke was her name. Not Mother, or Grandmother. Just Freddie.

Then she asked me if I loved my brother.

“Luke is a damn bully,” I said.

I remember I was staring at the pink marble of the grand old staircase as we walked up together. There were black veins running through it, and they looked like the blue varicose veins on Freddie’s white legs. I remember thinking that the staircase must be getting old, like her.

“Don’t say damn, Violet.”

You say damn.” And she did, too. All the time. “Luke pushed me down this damn staircase once,” I said, still looking at the marble steps. The fall didn’t kill me, if that’s what he’d wanted, but I knocked out two teeth and got a gash in my forehead that bled like hell. “I don’t love my brother,” I said. “And I don’t care what the Devil thinks about it. It’s the truth.”

Freddie gave me a sharp look then, her Dutch eyes a bright, bright blue despite her age. She had given me those blue eyes, and her blond hair as well.

Freddie put her wrinkled hands on mine. “There’s truths and then there’s truths, Violet. And some damn truths shouldn’t be spoken out loud, or the Devil will hear, and then he’ll come for you. Amen.”

When Freddie was young, she used to wear fur and attend parties and drink cocktails and sponsor artists. She’d told me wild stories, full of booze and broads and boys and trouble.

But something happened. Something Freddie never talked about. Something bad. Lots of people have bad sto­ries, and if they wail and sob and tell their story to anyone who’ll listen, it’s crap. Or half crap, at least. The stuff that really hurts people, the stuff that almost breaks them . . . that they won’t talk about. Ever.

I caught Freddie writing sometimes, late at night, fast and hard—so hard, I heard the paper tearing underneath her pen . . . but whether it was a diary or letters to friends, I didn’t know.

Maybe it was her daughter drowning so young that made my grandmother turn righteous and religious. Maybe it was something else. Whatever had happened, Freddie went looking to fill the hole that was left. And what she found was God. God, and the Devil. Because one didn’t exist without the other.

Freddie talked about the Devil all the time, almost as if he was her best friend, or an old lover. But for all her Devil talk, I never saw Freddie pray.

I prayed, though.

To Freddie. After she died. I’d done it so often over the past five years that it had become unconscious, like blow­ing on soup when it’s too hot. I prayed to Freddie about my parents being gone. And about the money running out. And being so lonely sometimes that the damn sea wind howling through my window felt closer to me than the brother I had upstairs.

And I prayed to Freddie about the Devil. I asked her to keep my hand out of his. I asked her to keep me safe from evil.

But, for all my praying, the Devil still found me.

Chapter 2

I lived with my twin brother, Luke. And that’s it. We were only seventeen, and it was illegal to be living alone, but no one did anything about it.

Our parents were artists. John and Joelie Iris White. Painters. They loved us, but they loved art more. They’d gone to Europe last fall, looking for muses in cafés and castles . . . and blowing through the last bit of the family wealth. I hoped they would come home soon, if for no other reason than I wanted there to be enough money left for me to go to a good university. Someplace pretty, with green lawns, and white columns, and cavernous libraries, and professors with elbow patches.

But I wasn’t counting on it.

My great-grandparents had been East Coast industri­alists, and they made loads of cash when they were really damn young. They invested in railroads and manufactur­ing—things that everyone was excited about back then. And they handed down all the money to a grandpa I never got to meet.

Freddie and my grandfather had been about the richest people in Echo in their day, as much as being the “est” of anything in Echo mattered. Freddie told me the Glen­ships had been wealthier, but rich was rich, in my mind. Grandpa built a big house right on the edge of a cliff above the crashing waves. He married my wild grandmother, and brought her to live with him and have his babies on the edge of the Atlantic.

Our home was dignified and elegant and great and beautiful.

And also wind-bitten and salt-stained and overgrown and neglected­­­—like an aging ballerina who looked young and supple from far away, but up close had gray at her temples and lines by her eyes and a scar on one cheek.

Freddie called our house Citizen Kane, after the old film with its perfectly framed shots and Orson Welles strutting around and talking in a deep voice. But I thought it was a depressing movie, mostly. Hopeless. Besides, the house was built in 1929, and Citizen Kane didn’t come out until 1941, which meant that Freddie took years to think of a name. Maybe she saw the movie and it meant something to her. I don’t know. No one really knew why Freddie did anything, most of the time. Not even me.

Freddie and my grandfather lived in the Citizen until they died. And after our parents went to Europe, I moved into Freddie’s old bedroom on the second floor. I left everything the way it was. I didn’t even take her dresses out of the walk-in closet.

I loved my bedroom . . . the vanity with the warped mirror, the squat chairs without armrests, the elaborate, oriental dressing screen. I loved curving my body into the velvet sofa, books piled at my feet, the dusty, floor-length curtains pushed back from the windows so I could see the sky. At night the purple-fringed lampshades turned the light a hue somewhere between lilac and dusky plum.

Luke’s bedroom was on the third floor. And I think we both liked having the space between us.

That summer, Luke and I finally ran out of the money our parents had given us when they’d left for Europe all those months ago. Citizen Kane needed a new roof because the ocean wind beat the hell out it, and Luke and I needed food. So I had the brilliant idea to rent out the guesthouse. Yes, the Citizen had a guesthouse, left over from the days when Freddie sponsored starving art­ists. They would move in for a few months, paint her, and then move on to the next town, the next wealthy person, the next gin bottle.

I put up posters in Echo, advertising a guesthouse for rent, and thought nothing would come of it.

But something did.

It was an early June day with a balmy breeze that felt like summer slapping spring. The salt from the sea was thick in the air. I sat on the fat front steps, facing the road that ran along the great big blue. Two stone columns framed the large front door, and the steps spilled down between them. From where I sat, our tangled, forgotten lawn sprawled out to the unpaved road. Beyond it was a sheer drop, ending in pounding waves.

So I was sitting there, taking turns reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories and watching the sky blurring into the far-off waves, when a new-old car turned up my road, went past Sunshine’s house, and pulled into my cir­cular driveway. I say old, because it was from the 1950s, all big and pretty and looking like really bad gas mileage, but it was fixed up as if it was fresh-off-the-block new, and shiny as a kid’s face on Christmas.

The car came to a stop. A boy got out. He was about the same age as me, but still, I couldn’t really call him a man. So yeah, a boy. A boy got out of the car, and looked straight at me as if I had called out his name.

But I hadn’t. He didn’t know me. And I didn’t know him. He was not tall—less than six feet, maybe—and he was strong, and lean. He had thick, dark brown hair, which was wavy and parted at the side . . . until the sea wind lifted it and blew it across his forehead and tangled it all up. I liked his face on sight. And his tan, been-in-the-summer-sun-every-day skin. And his brown eyes.

He looked at me, and I looked back.

“Are you Violet?” he asked, and didn’t wait for my answer. “Yeah, I think you are. I’m River. River West.” He swept his hand through the air in front of him. “And this must be Citizen Kane.”

He was looking at my house, so I tilted my head and looked at my house too. In my memory, it was gleam­ing white stone columns and robin’s egg blue trim around the big square windows, and manicured shrubbery and tastefully nude statues in the center of the front fountain. But the fountain I saw now was mossy and dirty, with one nose, one breast, and three fingers broken and missing from its poor, undressed girls. The bright blue paint had turned gray and was chipping off the frames. The shrub­bery was a feral, eight-foot-tall jungle.

I wasn’t embarrassed by the Citizen, because it was still a damn amazing house, but now I wondered if I should have trimmed the bushes down, maybe. Or scrubbed up the naked fountain girls. Or re-painted the window frames.

“It’s kind of a big place for one blond-haired, book-reading girl,” the boy in front of me said, after a long minute of house-looking from the both of us. “Are you alone? Or are your parents around here somewhere?”

I shut my book and got to my feet. “My parents are in Europe.” I paused. “Where are your parents?”

He smiled. “Touché.”

Our town was small enough that I never developed a healthy fear of strangers. To me, they were exciting things, gift-wrapped and full of possibilities, the sweet smell of somewhere else wafting from them like perfume. And so River West, stranger, didn’t stir in me any sort of fear . . . only a rush of excitement, like how I felt right before a really big storm hit, when the air crackled with expecta­tion.

I smiled back. “I live here with my twin brother, Luke. He keeps to the third floor, mostly. When I’m lucky.” I glanced up, but the third-floor windows were blocked by the portico roof. I looked back at the boy. “So how did you know my name?”

“I saw it on the posters in town, stupid,” River said, and smiled. “Guesthouse for rent. See Violet at Citizen Kane. I asked around and some locals directed me here.”

He didn’t say “stupid” like how Luke said it, blinking at me with narrow eyes and a condescending smile. River said it like it was an . . . endearment. Which threw me, sort of. I slipped the sandal off my right foot and tapped my toes on the stone step, making my yellow skirt swing against my knees. “So . . . you want to rent the guest­house?”

“Yep.” River put an elbow out and leaned onto his shiny car. He wore black linen pants—the kind I thought only stubble-jawed Spanish men wore in European movies set by the sea—and a white button-down shirt. It might have looked strange on someone else. But it suited him all right.

“Okay. I need the first month’s rent in cash.”

He nodded and reached into his back pocket. He pulled out a leather wallet and opened it. There was a thick stack of green inside it. So thick that, after he counted out the money he needed, he could barely close the wallet again. River West walked up to me, grabbed my hand, and pressed five hundred dollars into my palm.

“Don’t you even want to see the place first?” I asked, not taking my eyes off the green paper. I let my fingers close down on it, tight.


I grinned. River grinned back at me, and I noticed that his nose was straight and his mouth was crooked. I liked it. I watched him swagger, yes swagger, with panther hips, over to the trunk of his car, where he pulled out a cou­ple of old-fashioned suitcases, the kind with buckles and straps instead of zippers. I slipped my sandal back onto my right foot and started down the narrow, overgrown path through the bushes, past all the ivy-covered windows, past the plain wooden garage, to the back of Citizen Kane.

I looked behind me, just once. He was following.

I led him beyond the crumbling tennis court and the old greenhouse. They looked worse every time I saw them. Things had gone to hell since Freddie died, and it wasn’t just about our lack of cash. Freddie had kept things up without money somehow. She’d been tireless, fixing things all on her own, teaching herself rudimentary plumbing and carpentry, dusting, sweeping, cleaning, day in day out. But not us. We did nothing. Nothing but paint. Canvases, that is, not walls or fences or window frames.

Dad said that kind of painting was for Tom Sawyer and other unwashed orphans. I hadn’t been sure if he was kid­ding. Probably not.

The tennis court had bright green grass breaking through the cement floor, and the nets were crumpled on the ground and covered with leaves. Who had last played tennis there? I couldn’t remember. The greenhouse’s glass roof had caved in too—broken shards were still on the ground, and exotic plants in shades of blue and green and white grew up the building’s beams and stretched out into the sky. I used to go there to read sometimes. I had many secret reading spots around the Citizen. They’d been painting spots, back before I’d quit painting.

We slowed as we neared the guesthouse. It was a two-bedroom red brick building covered in ivy, like everything else. It had decent plumbing and twitchy electricity, and it stood at a right angle to the Citizen. If the ocean was a mouth, then the Citizen would be the wide white nose; the guesthouse, the right eye; the ratty old maze, the left eye; and the tennis courts and the greenhouse two moles high on the right cheekbone.

We both went inside and looked around. It was dusty, but it was also cozy and sort of sweet. It had a wide-open kitchen, and chipped teacups in yellow cupboards, and church bazaar patchwork blankets on art deco furniture, and no phone.

Luke and I had run out of money to pay the phone bill months ago, so we didn’t have a working phone at the Citizen, either. Which is why I hadn’t put a phone number on the poster.

I couldn’t remember the last person who had stayed in the guesthouse. Some bohemian friends of my parents, long ago. There were dried-out tubes of oil paint lying on windowsills and paintbrushes still in the sink, where they’d been rinsed and then forgotten about. My parents had a studio on the other side of the maze, called the shed, and had always done their art things in there. It was full of half-finished canvases, and it smelled of turpentine—a smell I found both comforting and irritating.

I grabbed the paintbrushes as I walked by, planning to throw them out, but the bristles that hit my palm were damp. So they didn’t belong to old friends of my parents. They’d been used recently.

I noticed River watching me. He didn’t say anything. I set the brushes back down where I’d found them and walked into the main bedroom, moving back so River could throw his suitcases on the bed. I had always liked this room, with the red walls faded almost to pink, and the yellow-and-white-striped curtains. River glanced around and took everything in with his fast brown eyes. He went to the dresser, opened the top drawer, looked in it, and closed it again. He moved to the other side of the room, pushed back the curtains, and opened the two windows to the sea.

A burst of bright, salty ocean air flooded in, and I breathed deep. So did River, his chest flaring out so I could see his ribs press against his shirt.

The guesthouse was farther away from the ocean than the Citizen, but you could still see a thick line of blue-blue-blue through the window. I noticed some big ship, far off on the horizon, and wondered where it was going to, or coming from. Usually, I wanted to be on those ships, sailing away to some place cold and exotic. But that itchy, gypsy feeling wasn’t in me right then.

River went over to the bed, reached up, and took down the black wooden cross that hung above the pillows. He brought it to the dresser, opened the top drawer, set the cross inside, and bumped it closed with his hip.

“My grandfather built Citizen Kane,” I said, “but my grandma Freddie built this cottage. She got religious later on in life.” My eyes were fixed on the dark red shape left on the wall, where the cross had shielded the paint from the fading effects of sunshine. “She probably hung that cross up there decades ago and it’s been there ever since. Are you an atheist? Is that why you took it down? I’m curious. Hence the question.”

I flinched. Hence? My habit of reading more than I socialized made me use odd, awkward words without thinking.

River didn’t seem to notice. And by that, I mean he seemed to be noticing everything about me, and every­thing about the room, so that I couldn’t tell if he noticed my use of hence more than anything else.

“No, I’m not an atheist. I’m just somebody who doesn’t like to sleep with a cross over his head.” He looked at me again. “So, what are you . . . seventeen?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Good guess. Because my brother says I still look about twelve.”

“We’re the same age, then.” A pause. “My parents went down to South America a few weeks ago. They’re archeol­ogists. They sent me here in the meantime. I have an uncle who lives in Echo. But I didn’t want to stay with him. So I found your poster and here I am. Sort of strange that both our parents took off and left us, don’t you think?”

I nodded. I wanted to ask him who his uncle was. I wanted to ask him where he came from, and how long he was going to stay in my guesthouse. But he stood there and looked at me in such a way and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

“So where’s this brother of yours?” River brought his fingers up to his hair and gave it a good shake. I stared at him, and his tousled hair, until he stared back at me. And then I stopped.

“He’s in town. You’ll have to meet him later. And I wouldn’t get too excited. He’s not as nice as me.” Luke had walked into Echo after breakfast, intending to track down this girl he knew, and try to grope her in broad daylight at the café where she worked.

I pointed out the window. “If you want to walk into town to get groceries, there’s a path that starts back by the apple trees, behind the maze. It hooks up with the old railroad trail and leads right onto the main street. I mean, you can drive if you want to, because you have a car, but the path is really nice if you like walking. It goes by this old train tunnel . . .”

I started to back out of the bedroom. I was beginning to feel stupid, talking on and on like some dumb girl who opens her mouth and lets all her thoughts fall out of it. And feeling stupid made my cheeks blush. And I had no doubt that this observant boy next to me would observe my cheeks turning red, and probably guess why.

“Oh, and there’s no lock on the front door,” I continued as I sunk into the welcoming semi-darkness of the hall­way and put my hands to my face. “You can get one at the hardware store if you want, but no one will steal anything from here.” I paused. “At least, no one ever has.”

I turned and left without waiting for his reply. I walked out of the guesthouse, past the collapsed greenhouse, past the tennis courts, around the Citizen, down the driveway, down the narrow gravel road to the only other house on my street: Sunshine’s.

I had to tell someone that a panther-hipped boy had come to live in my backyard.

What People are Saying About This

The Boston Globe
"A perfect read for stormy summer nights."
"Tucholke strikes just the right balance between the windswept, seaside setting and Violet's interior struggles with right and wrong (and wrong-but-oh-so-right feelings toward dangerous River)."
Entertainment Weekly
"Looking for a dark and eerie read to cap off the end of the summer season? Look no further than April Genevieve Tucholke’s YA debut."
"Mysterious hotties, eerie events and gothic supernatural romance in a crumbling mansion on the lonely coast of Maine. . . We totally want this book to be our new boyfriend."
Booklist (starred review)
"Moments of horror nestle against warm, dreamy kisses. . . . The faded elegance that permeates almost every page elevates this above more generic offerings of its type."
From the Publisher
"Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea will slip under your skin and capture the darkest corners of your imagination. A hypnotic, terrifying debut." (Nova Ren Suma, author of Imaginary Girls)
Shelf Awareness
"Tucholke will cast a spell on readers with her magnificent prose, fascinating histories of residents in the seaside town, and a boy with a disturbing ability rarely seen in today's young adult books."
The Atlantic Wire
"Deliciously creepy."
"If you liked Beautiful Creatures (the book or the movie), Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea is right up your alley."

Meet the Author

April Genevieve Tucholke digs classic movies, redheaded villains, big kitchens, and discussing murder at the dinner table. She and her husband—a librarian, former rare-book dealer, and journalist—live in Oregon. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is her first novel.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke Book One of the Between duology Publisher: Dial Publication Date: August 15, 2013 Rating: 5 stars Source: ARC borrowed from a friend Summary (from Goodreads): 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 guesthouse 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. What I Liked: I'm always terrified of writing a review for a book that I absolutely love and that is a new favorite because I know for a fact that I will not do this book justice. And I know that I will probably ramble a lot and say a lot of things and possibly too many things. And run the risk of spoiling things. But, here I go! You all know that this book is my most anticipated debut of 2013, right? Heck, it's my most anticipated novel of 2013 in general (debut or not)! I've been dying to read this one since October 14, 2012, when YABC revealed the cover. I wasn't a blogger back then, but I was in AGONY, because I wanted to get an ARC. But as a reader and only a reader, I knew I would have to wait the almost-a-year wait for this book. Well, I've been a blogger for seven months and I quickly realized that I still wasn't going to get any ARCs from Penguin for a while. And that's okay. But one lovely and amazing blogger (I won't name her, but she knows who she is) who has an amazing and very popular blog, took pity on me and mailed me her ARC.  What do I say about a book that I've been dying to read, and that I love so much? This book has met my very high expectations and standards, and then some. I almost cried when I finished this book, because I wanted so badly to love this book - and I did. The story, the characters, the feel of the book, the romance, the writing style.. everything was so, so perfect. The story of this book isn't easy to describe, because there is more than one thing happening at once, making the plot complex yet very intriguing. Everything starts with River coming to live in Violet's guesthouse. Violet and her twin brother Luke live alone in the house, because their grandmother died, and their parents are still touring Europe. So, Violet decides to rent the guesthouse, and River appears and accepts the offer.  Strange things start to happen after River arrives. Little kids run around, talking about hunting the Devil. A man kills himself unknowingly. A girl disappears in a large, old, abandoned house. Things just don't make sense. And Violet feels herself drawn to River. She is unable to stay away from him and his hypnotizing touch. Little does she know that her touch fuels him. This story is so much more complex than it seems! There is something else going on - Violet keeps looking for Freddie's (her grandmother) letters from when Freddie was younger. When she finds them, there is information there that Violet never knew. Something that ties Violet and Luke to a little boy, and a now-dead man.  The characters were so well-described and developed. Violet is the female protagonist, and the story is told from her perspective in first person. Violet is strange, but not in a weird way, if that makes sense. She cares a lot about her best friends, Sunshine, who only seems to care about Violet's brother, Luke. Violet loves Luke, though he acts like a rude, sexist, pain in the butt jerk of a brother. She cares about Jack, a boy that comes to live with her and Luke. But most of all, she truly cares about River, the boy that lies to her almost every time he opens his mouth. I love how Ms. Tucholke portrays River. River is definitely my favorite character of the book, and not because he is the love interest. He is a complex and strange character himself. He lies about everything - to Violet, to Luke, to anyone. He doesn't tell Violet about who he really is. He doesn't tell Violet about his difficult past. When he does tell her about his ability, he tells her that hurting people doesn't really matter to him, and Violet thinks he is damaged. River is not what I was expecting. In fact, none of the characters are what I was expecting. All of them have a small-town, old-time feel to them - as does the entire story. This book is written in a contemporary world, but the way the story is set up, it feels like the story is in a different, older time. Maybe it's just the small-town feel, or the spooky old house feel, or the Gothic feel. Whatever it is, I love it. The romance is not what one would usually expect in Young Adult books. It's not a romance in which the love interests have to fight to be with one another. It's not a forbidden romance (not really). There is no love triangle. But, it's probably the most beautiful romance I've read in a while, and I'm sure why I think that! It doesn't FEEL like there is chemistry, even though readers know it's there between Violet and River. River almost never stops touching Violet, but readers are more intent on figuring out why, and what he is, and why he is touching her, versus thinking about the romantic side of him touching her. The romance sort of slips in quietly, and by the end of the book, it's obvious that River truly cares about Violet, and Violet truly cares about River, physical attraction aside.  The writing style - oh, the writing style. Possibly one of my favorites aspects of this book is the way Ms. Tucholke writes it. Her style is so beautiful and dream-like and unreal - I don't know how to describe it! It totally adds to the small-town, old-time, Gothic feel of the book. Ms. Tucholke's writing style is half of the reason why I love this book, because she twists the story together so beautifully. I was seriously so impressed by how well this debut author wrote - not that I expected her writing to be terrible or anything. I knew that when the synopsis and the early readers said something about gorgeous writing style, it would be amazing, but people. Ms. Tucholke's writing is... beyond words.  The climax is something that I did NOT see coming. Ms. Tucholke is kind of like a spider - she weaves a web around us and lulls us to sleep... and then BAM! She throws in the climax and a crazy character and things that we as readers do not see coming. I'm usually pretty astute with plots and characters and endings, but I didn't see any of that coming! All this time, everyone blamed River for everything, because what other reason could there be? Find out when you read this book... Because I didn't see the climax coming, I guess I didn't really see the ending coming. Before I saw the climax coming, I honestly had no idea how Ms. Tucholke would insert a climax and ending into this book, but everything was just flowing along magically. But I understand why this book ended the way it did. It is a bit of a sad ending, BUT, I can say that while it seems sad, Ms. Tucholke has a way of writing the ending so that you don't think it's sad, necessarily. I know that makes no sense, but I feel like with any other book and any other writing style, I would have been ridiculously heartbroken, because of the ending. Instead, I'm all like, bring on the next book! And there IS one more book to this duology, so yay for that! I'm so happy that this book is part of a duology and not a trilogy, because it would be really sad to see this book end like that (if it were a standalone), and I'm kind of tired of trilogies right now. So, I can't wait to read Between the Spark and Burn! What I Did Not Like: The fact that this book ended, and that I will have to wait a year to read the next one are two things that I dislike. Sigh! Would I Recommend It: YESYESYESYESYESYESYES!  My most anticipated novel of 2013 didn't disappoint - in fact, it was even better than I imagined! Rating: 5 stars, and believe me when I say that I would give it more than 5 stars, if possible!
TheReadingObsession More than 1 year ago
This book was like Alisa Bait. Pretty cover? Check. Interesting premise? Check. So much hype? Check.  Good quotes? Check. Rejection from Netgalley so I had to wait until the release date, heightening anticipation? Check. Too bad it completely screwed up. I was wary of reading this book after Khanh's review. She had good taste; I shouldn't touch that book. She didn't like the Fever series; never mind. And then I decided to be an idiot and pick the book up. But how can you blame me? Look at that cover! There is a good thing about this book, though. The writing is beautiful. It doesn't actually do anything, but it well crafted. The old house seems to be a living part of the story, but other than that, there was nothing. There was so much potential in this novel. I mean, it'd easily be gothic, mysterious, haunting, beautiful, and terrifying. If it didn't take over half the book to get to the plot. I'm fine with slow paced books- sometimes they end up amazing- but the plot was just so unimaginative and forgetful. I said that the house was creatively imagined. But that was the only thing in this world that was well-described. Other than that, the town and the people were described minimally.. The worst part about Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea were the characters. River's clearly a psychopath; he gets off on people's fear, Violet's just idiotic, and her brother is a sexist pig. It'd be alright if there was this magical thing called character development, but no. The characters just stay the exact same throughout the entire book. This was used twice, but it really got me annoyed. River's hips are described as "panther hips". First, no one notices hips. Second, say you have some hip fetish, why would you describe them as some animal? And the insta- love! It's like, you have a glimpse of a guy and all of a sudden, you and him are insanely and unoriginally in love. And you ignore the fact that he's clearly a psychopath! There are no parents here. But at least there's a sort of legit reason for them being gone. But how are their children supposed to pay for everything? Slut Shaming is everywhere here. Violet's friend constantly is spoken about like the only thing that makes her who she is, is only her breasts. There were so many opportunities for this book to be spectacular, but it failed at almost every turn. I will read the next book though, because I want to see if it'll get better. It probably won't, but one can hope.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really thought it was a really good book. I didnt think I would like it but I did. I think Brodie is a dick though.
StephWard More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars 'Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea' is a young adult gothic/paranormal novel that follows our main character, Violet White, as she prepares for another boring summer in her small town alongside her brother and best friend. All of her plans change when a mysterious and gorgeous guy from out of town, River, rents Violet's guest house - and strange and unexplainable things start to happen. Violet's grown up listening to the old stories and adages about the Devil - but she never put much belief in them. Could River be more than just a regular guy? Before Violet has a chance to even question herself, she finds that she's already head over heels for River. Things get even stranger and questions begin to pile up - who or what - exactly is River? This was a beautifully told modern day Gothic novel blended with mystery and romance. Gothic fiction is one of my favorite genres, so I immediately took to the book and the story it told. The novel took a while to get going - the beginning part being kind of slow with not much happening except introducing the author to the characters, setting, and history - but once River enters the picture, all of that changes. The twists and turns begin along with the strange happenings all over town and the unanswered questions had me eagerly reading as fast as I could to see what was going to happen next and to attempt to get some answers. The setting was perfect for a Gothic novel - a small coastal town with the huge crumbling estate of Violet's family overlooking the ocean. The characters were very well written - especially the main characters of Violet and River. Violet makes a great leading lady - she's smart, interesting, kind, and down to earth. River is the enigmatic gorgeous guy who suddenly appears and makes everyone - including the reader - ask more questions than they get answers. He was definitely a mystery to attempt to figure out. His character was witty, cunning, mysterious, romantic yet dangerous at the same time. I loved learning the history of Violet's family along with their estate and the town it overlooks, and I definitely loved learning what I could about River, his back story and the little we get to know about him in the book. I'm hoping that we get to see much more behind his character and his history in the next book, along with (hopefully) getting more answers to the ones left open in this one. The writing was beautifully done with vivid imagery and detailed descriptions that had me easily immersing myself into the setting and story alongside Violet. Like I mentioned, the beginning of the book was rather slow to start and there wasn't much going on. Some readers might find this a bad quality, but I liked learning about the characters, the setting, and the back story before all the action started. I'll definitely be eagerly waiting for the next book to come out! Recommended for fans of Gothic novels and paranormal romance fiction. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think the plot was a great concept..I think the atmosphere was described nicely.. I also think the writing was good.. I think the book could of touched more on the romance that you could feel bubbling under the surface.. The overall book kept me interested to see how the end goes.. I would be willing to read book 2 just to see where the story line continues..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like i said i love this book . It gets you hooked just like a catfish ;) I dont know know how to excplane it any way else , this book is just amazing !!!!!!!!
Death187Angel More than 1 year ago
I love this book! Just got the second one, Between the spark and the burn. The story is very different from anything I have ever read. Can't wait to read the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Panther-hipped boy...?
MonicaFMF More than 1 year ago
To make money over the summer, 17 year old Violet rents out the guest house to River. River says he's also 17, yet he's mysterious and strange happenings begin occurring in the town of Echo after his arrival. A colorful cast of characters grace the pages of this vivid narrative. Authentic and character developing dialogue flow well alongside the plot. As the mysteries unfold and the characters learn about themselves, life, and their ultimate journeys, it is fascinating to watch how everything has been intertwined. Overall, a fun read!
sarah_says More than 1 year ago
I don't know what it is about the fall season, but it makes me crave a creepy read-maybe it has to do with Halloween being just around the corner. Whatever that reason may be, I found my perfectly disturbing read in Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. This book was fantastic, creepy, realistic, detached, and mysterious. I know a lot of people like their scary stories really gruesome with a lot of blood and gory, but I like mine to be a bit supernatural with a mystery plot twist, and that is exactly what this book gave me. Set in this small, quaint seaside town, the author takes us by the hand and introduces us to Violet, her twin brother Luke, her friend Sunshine, and then throws us into the story without a single look back. Reading this book, that is exact how I felt-scared, helpless, and spooked out-all the time. There is this strong supernatural aspect to the story, that really creeped me out-it's one thing to have people protect you against other people, but how can ordinary humans protect one another from a being that isn't living? It really felt as if these characters were stuck in this town, where strange and horrific occurrences take place left and right, and there's isn't anything they can do about it, there isn't anyone there who can save them. There is a bit of romance to this book, but don't let the cover synopsis fool you-this is not a melt-your-heart-puppy-love romance, it is dark-which is probably why it is considered a Gothic romance tale. I love all the characters in this book, especially Violet, who despite being a teenager, has such an old soul. She loves to read, paint, drink coffee, explore her old house for clues, and enjoys wearing her dead grandmother's clothes in order to feel close to her. She was a fantastic narrator, and I love how brave and smart she is-reading the story from her point of view, definitely made me less afraid. I cannot wait for the next installment in this series, and if you are someone who loves a good mystery, then I definitely recommend this book. Pick this book up, ASAP. I promise, you won't want to miss out on this story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing story. Beautiful and moving and it really makes you think. Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sheltisebastian More than 1 year ago
Heartpounding fun!
tpolen More than 1 year ago
In looking over the other reviews for this book, readers seem to really love it or strongly dislike it, with very few reviews falling in the middle. Well - I'm one of those readers in the middle. The Southern gothic feel of this book is very enjoyable and the author did an excellent job of making me feel like I was actually a part of the setting. The writing itself is exceptional and Violet's description of life with her grandmother drew me into the story from the first page. The odd and creepy occurrences around town and Vi's neglected house on the cliff that holds some family secrets set the tone early in this story. The author has created an interesting cast of eccentric, dangerous, loathsome, charismatic, maddening, and unusual characters, with equally unusual and amusing names. Violet and her brother have been left in a somewhat unbelievable situation and if you can suspend disbelief and overlook some other questionable circumstances, it will aid you in enjoying the book a little more. While some of these characters had their good points, they felt somewhat shallow to me and I questioned the 'insta-love' between Vi and River but, without giving anything away, certain details revealed later in the story might explain how that relationship progressed so quickly. The biggest focus of the story was on the romance, and I was hoping more time would have been spent on the paranormal/horror aspects. This was an enjoyable read that certainly held my attention and I plan on adding the second book in this series to my TBR pile.
NookBookMommy More than 1 year ago
(Not something I would hand a 14-year-old due to violence) This book definitely portrays a neat idea, not one I have read before. So, I liked the concept. The characters are believable (except for the parents). I liked the building of historical story lines and connections between the past and present. However, there was a lot of murder and blood. I didn't mind until the climax. Too much for me and a bit too graphic. If you don't mind that, the rest of the book is not bad. It's not a light read so be prepared mentally.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
"You stop fearing the Devil when you're holding his hand." Violet's grandmother, Freddie, told her to be careful of the Devil countless times. But with Freddie dead and her parents indefinitely traveling through Europe, it's hard enough just to survive without thinking about the Devil. There are bills to pay, a twin brother to fight with and a neighbor to try and avoid. In need of money, Violet takes a gamble and tries to rent out her family's guesthouse. She doesn't expect anyone to come. No one in the small town of Echo thinks much of Violet and her formerly-rich family. Then River West drives into town all sly smiles and lazy grace to rent the guesthouse and turn the whole town upside down. The closer Violet gets to River the more she finds herself drawn to him. But as she learns more about River and her own family's past the more obvious it becomes that Freddie was right all along. It's easy to lose sight of the Devil when he's the one giving you a crooked smile like no one else in Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (2013) by April Genevieve Tucholke. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is Tucholke's first novel. It is also the first of a duet. (The second volume Between the Spark and the Burn will be published in 2014.) Violet is a great narrator with a cadence reminiscent of lazy days telling stories in a summer haze. Low level swear words (there are a lot of things that Violet has damn strong feelings about) and references to classic movies and books (like Casablanca and Hawthorne's short stories) are woven seamlessly into the story to give the whole novel an otherworldly air. This story is also strangely devoid of theology or other non-secular discussions for a book that focuses so heavily on Devil mythology and the idea of evil. In some ways that is a good thing as it makes the book approachable for a wider audience. On the other hand, even for someone who is not religious, it felt strange to see so much concern for the Devil but no mention of God except to say that there must be some kind of god if there is, in fact, some kind of devil. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is an enjoyable book for readers who don't mind skipping over small details that don't quite make sense. Because it is often the little things that make this story frustrating. Where, exactly, is the town of Echo located? Why does Violet not question her strange and instant attraction to the stranger in her guest house? How many times can two teenagers realistically sleep in the same bed (naked) with nothing happening? And, of course, the biggest question: How many chances for forgiveness does a sociopath really deserve? Which leads to the biggest problem in Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Almost none of the characters are likable. While Violet is a sympathetic (if naive) narrator, none of the secondary characters are likable. Violet's twin brother is a brute, her neighbor friend is vapid to the point of meanness. River, the supposed male lead, is a villain in every sense of the word: he kills people, hurts people and creates mayhem everywhere he goes not because he has no choice but because he can. Because he enjoys it. While there is always room for anti-heroes in literature--especially ones that readers will want to root for--it is impossible to find any redeeming qualities in River. He is a sociopath. The only times he is angry or shows regret about his actions is when he is caught in the act. Otherwise it's all in good fun. River is meant to be sympathetic but in the face of so many wrongs, that sympathy was never warranted. More to the point, River being so awful also drags down the other characters. Instead of seeing Violet and others who try to help River as steadfast or strong they only come off as enablers who are painfully, dangerously ignorant of the devil who has just come to town. This blend of gothic horror and devilish anti-heroes will appeal to fans of Hush, Hush and Beautiful Creatures. Readers looking for a book with characters who are actually likable instead of just characters who say they are likable will be better served elsewhere. Possible Pairings: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, Beautiful Creature by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel, Swoon by Nina Malkin, Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore, The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
Left alone while their artistic parents blow the last of their monies in Europe, twins Violet and Luke are running out of finances themselves to handle the expenses of living in Citizen Kane. This old and once beautiful, towering residence is being overcome with weeds, dust and peeling paint and Vi takes it upon herself to rent out the guesthouse to River. Sight unseen, River also 17, is without his parents and he would rather stay there then with relatives who live in town. River fits right in with the twins and with Sunshine who is a neighbor that Luke seems to fancy. It doesn’t take long before bizarre events start to occur and the tempo of the book increases. Children playing at the cemetery claim to have seen the devil snatch their friend away and they’re running through the graveyard hunting the red-eyed demon with stakes. The intensity of the hunt and the homemade wooden stakes placed into the hands of children, create an intense moment. Luke and Sunshine find an Ouija Board in the attic. Armed with questions, River and Vi also place their hands on the wooden pointer as it slides over the board. Asking who is speaking to them, the pointer slides over the letters, chilling both the teens and I with the answer. Vi was one smart girl as she starts to put together the pieces of what is happening as her brother is more focused on scoring with his girls. There is something about River that has won Vi over as she just melts when she is around him but she knows he is hiding something. Vi finally confronts River and he’s honest with her which confuses her more but that doesn’t change the way she feels about him. He’s deceptive, corrupt and I just can’t get enough of what happening. He is so cunning and she is so open, I don’t know if what she is feeling is real. He explains his glow and how he uses it. He manipulates his thinking, as if he’s a God and we should all be thanking him for what he does. He’s almost got me convinced, had he not been so dangerous. It’s like a runaway train- what transpires in the second half of this book. It was intense and twisted and I loved it. I am reading the second
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A shadow crept past them and twoard Angel...they did not see his face...but he was smiling...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is a rustling noise coming from deep in the cargo hold.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Makes mepons
LaurenF More than 1 year ago
Paperback_Princess More than 1 year ago
Holy Cow. This book was delightfully creepy and spectacular the way that we got pulled into this great small town of Echo, and we saw how terrible great power can be. I was at first a little skeptical of the book because I wasn't that in love with what was going on. You could obviously tell something was off with Riber just from the way that he acted and dressed like he'd walked out the past. I really loved the characters although at some points I wanted to kill Violet for being so stupid and naive. However, I don't think I can hold that against the book because part of it was against who Violet was and the other part was because Violet was from a small sleepy town where she even admits to not locking any of her doors. (I have to admit, knowing that and then having a stranger roll up and want to rent your guest house and then be all vague about why he's in town would raise several alarms for me. I adored Jack and how he sort of wandered into their lives because of River. I wanted to hug him and cuddle him as all these scary things happened around the book. And let me tell you it was scary. Devils coming out of nowhere and people being bludgeoned with bats and others being burned alive... It was completely creepy and completely wonderful. I'm so glad that I got to read this, and better yet, that the story continues because it was spooky and creative and I'm just not ready to let everyone go. Be so to go grab a copy of this book for yourself.