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

“Our town was small enough that I never developed a healthy fear of strangers.”

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea Cover.jpg

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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.


TW: family death, sexual assault mentions, underage drinking, alcoholism, absent parents/parental neglect, suicide, child abuse, gore, violence

I initially wasn’t sure what to make of this book. It’s got a lovely cover (don’t lie, we all judge books by their covers), and it’s steeped in this misty gothic atmosphere that I just crave, so that worked in its favor! Give me more eerie covers and abandoned mansions and family secrets, please. Give me the spooky stuff without necessarily getting into horror, and I’m a very happy camper.

And on top of that, the concept was an interesting one. Without spoiling it for those of you who haven’t read this, there’s an extremely powerful element to one of the main characters, one that’s dangerous and should come with responsibility but doesn’t. It’s a prime source of conflict, and the consequences of using that power can be and often are deadly.

But that was also where the problem was.

I’ll start by saying I still want to read the sequel. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea ended in such a way that I genuinely want to know what comes next and how this all plays out. That said, I’m kinda frustrated with what it took to get to that point.

It’s a weird combination of a lot of things I don’t enjoy somehow ending in a way that kept me hooked. We have weird, super stilted dialogue, a first person POV from an MC who feels more reactive than proactive, and a romance that has me going BALLISTIC over the number of red flags being tossed out there.

Violet. Violet, he’s a literal murderer and a master manipulator. However hot you think that is, IT ISN’T.

Anyways, that was where I got hung up. Here was the potential for a story about responsibility and power and a struggle with it, and instead, it was more about abusing that power but still getting the girl anyway.

I’m always on the fence about these, too. Should the reader be able to notice that this is some shady stuff. I sure hope so! Do I know that not every book is going to have examples of healthy relationships? Yeah, of course! And yet, I still want to see, especially in YA, less of the toxic and abusive sorts of love interests who remain a love interest, and more of characters who ultimately do the right thing for themselves, whether that’s by changing and making an effort to become a good person, or by leaving the person who’s not treating them well. You can include faulty relationships without romanticizing them, and I think Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea comes far too close to the romantic end of it all.

Maybe the sequel will address this. That’s why I want to read it, after all. The ending left me with some hope that Between the Spark and the Burn will address some of the dangerous abuses of power in this book, and resolve them in a way that doesn’t sweep them under the rug. It’s very, very possible this will improve.

But I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see. For now, I’m not totally impressed, but not totally put off either. The sequel could make or break everything set up here, but as a single book, it’s not the most phenomenal thing I’ve read.


Have you read Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea before? If so, what did you think? Or are you planning to? So sorry if this review puts you off, in that case. 😳 I do feel bad about posting not so positive reviews for just that reason.

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