Between the Spark and the Burn: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Book 2

Book review by
Julie A. Carlson, Common Sense Media
Between the Spark and the Burn: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Conclusion of gothic series about female teen lacks oomph.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The setting of the Appalachian mountains, including small mountain towns and an island, all come vividly to life. There's also some sea mythology and folklore in the novel. 

Positive Messages

Friendship and family are important. Love conquers all. Stick up for your friends, be a Good Samaritan, believe in yourself and others, and take the high road.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Violet White is smart and fearless and will do anything to help her friends. She may be a bit obsessed with brooding River, who's somewhat dangerous, and Brodie, who's plain evil, making her character iffy at times, but she finds comfort in their brother Neely, who's kind, caring, intelligent, and extremely brave.


An attempted murder via drowning, the use of knives to cut people, and description of blood. 


A few kissing and caressing scenes.


"Bulls--t," "damn," "bastards," "shut up," and "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Between the Spark and the Burn is the second book in a series that explores Violet White's relationship with the mysterious Redding brothers, who have disappeared. There's an attempted murder, the use of knives, and drowning. Language includes "bastard," "bulls--t," "damn," and "hell." Brief kissing scenes. 

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What's the story?

Last summer, Violet White met the charming yet dangerous Redding brothers, River, Brodie and Neely. The trio stayed in her home called, Citizen Kane, located in a small seaside town. After a series events caused romance, heartbreak, and violence, River and Brodie disappeared without a trace. It's been several months, and Violet hasn't heard anything from the brothers. One night, Violet hears of a strange occurrence, on a radio broadcast, in a mountain village miles from her home. She gathers her friends, her brother, and the other Redding sibling, Neely, to go on a mission to locate River and Brodie. Their adventure takes through a myriad of eerie locales, in search of the Redding brothers. On their travels they meet a variety of different characters all searching for the truth behind the mystery of the Redding boys.

Is it any good?

If you thought Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea was gothic and gloomy, get ready for its conclusion in Between the Spark and the Burn. Author April Genevieve Tucholke ups the eerie factor, and the narrative remains lyrical and haunting. Citizen Kane is the house where Violet and her family live; part of the pleasure of the story is the setting, with a stormy sea along a small windswept town, mountain villages with strange townsfolk, an abandoned hotel, and even an island filled with curses and sea monsters, and complex characters have names like Finch, Canto, Sunshine, and Pine.

Unfortunately, the novel loses steam, and the ending just kind of ... ends. It almost seems as if there should be a third book; readers will want to know a little more about what happens to Violet, River, and everyone else. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about traveling on your own and having to make decisions without adults. Is this something you could do? Have you traveled on your own before?

  • What do you think about the diary entries of Violet's grandmother, Freddie? Were you surprised at their connection to the story and the Redding boys? Do you think they added to the story?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love gothic novels

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