Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Book 1

Book review by
Julie A. Carlson, Common Sense Media
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Haunting gothic horror novel is a devil of a tale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers get a taste of the gothic horror genre in a novel that's atmospheric and creepy.

Positive Messages

Trust your instincts and be careful of strangers, and ask questions when you're unsure. Value friendship and family, and believe in yourself. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Violet White is a fascinating character. She's a loner, living in her family's mansion by the sea, a bookworm who knows about history, art, culture, and old movies. Despite the people around her acting strange, rude, or mysterious, Violet tries to see the best in people, especially River. But she doesn't always make the right choices when it comes to him. She's starry-eyed and swept away into his magical yet dangerous world. River, on the other hand, wants to be good. He doesn't want to hurt people, or scare them, but his magical abilities are often out of control. However, it's clear he loves Violet and will do anything to protect her. Violet's friend Sunshine is a major flirt and always using her body to get the attention of boys, including Violet's brother, who is also heroic and cares for kids.

Violence

Hand-to-hand combat. Fighting with a knife. A man kills himself and a boy is killed. Other deaths and murders are discussed but not shown. A young boy is almost set on fire. Violet expresses a few times that she wants to kill River.

Sex

Kissing, flirting, touching, and suggestions of sex.

Language

"Crap", "damn," "s--t."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

River takes a drink of bourbon.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is the story of a small-town teen girl who falls in love with a mysterious boy who moves into her guesthouse. It has a gothic horror feel that's atmospheric and creepy.There are some violent and disturbing scenes (suicide, people set on fire, murder, and attempted murder), some strong language ("damn," "s--t," "crap"), and kissing.

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What's the story?

Violet White's grandmother warned her about the devil. Growing up in the small town of Echo, Violet has had nothing to fear. She misses her grandmother and her parents, who took off for Europe to pursue artistic interests and left her brother, Luke, and her to live alone in the family's mansion near the sea, known as Citizen Kane. Violet's used to being alone, fighting with Luke, and visiting her next door neighbor, Sunshine, but she often feels something's missing from her life, until River West rents her guesthouse. He's mysterious, aloof, and doesn't provide many answers on his background. When strange things start to occur to Violet, her friends, and the residents of Echo, she begins to wonder if the boy she's falling in love with could actually be the devil in disguise.

Is it any good?

BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA is an atmospheric, lyrical novel from debut author April Genevieve Tucholke. The plot moves quickly and is filled with secrets and paranormal elements. Violet and River are both fascinating, likable characters. However, River has a dark side, and Violet questions her feelings for him throughout the book. Readers will also question Violet's choices and decisions regarding him. Her relationships with her brother and her friend Sunshine are realistic and add to the story. The descriptions in the book are top-notch and reminiscent of gothic horror classics like Dracula, Rebecca, Jayne Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and The Mystery of the Haunted Pool. The novel ends with a cliffhanger that will leave readers wondering what happens next to Violet, River, and the other characters.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Familes can talk about gothic romance a genre. What common elements appear in gothic horror novels? Why do they remain popular?

  • Do you think Violet makes the right choices? Should she have trusted and fallen for a stranger so quickly without really knowing him first?

  • Do you think River is truly evil and can control his magical ability? Or is he just a lost soul who's struggling to not be the bad boy?

Book details

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