By April Genevieve Tucholke
Available now from Dial (Penguin Random House)
Violet White and her brother Luke live alone in Citizen Kane, their crumbling family estate. Their parents are off in Europe, and have been for awhile. Violet's only friend is Sunshine, their neighbor who delights in flirting with the sexist Luke. To make money, Violet decides to rent the guesthouse - which brings River West into their lives.
Soon enough, strange things are happening in their little town. And it always seems like River is at the center of the strangeness, which is steadily becoming more sinister. Debut author April Genevieve Tucholke has good instincts for making Violet's continued attraction to River believable. For one thing, the first truly horrible thing done is partially done in defense of a child. There's Violet's lack of supervision and upbringing. And there's River himself, stacking the deck in his favor.
BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, like UNSPOKEN, is a modern Gothic. It has all the trappings of one of the classics: an atmospheric house, children in peril, an enigmatic man, possible supernatural shenanigans. That traditional feel commingles with modern attitudes and morality to create a truly absorbing read. There's mystery, romance, terror, and teenagers spinning out of control.
In some ways, I feel like I shouldn't like BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA. Or perhaps I feel that I should feel guilty about liking it. This is one twisted book. But it's twisted in such a fun, compulsively readable sort of way. I would've eaten it up back when I was a morbid teenager, and I ate it up pretty easily now. It's why certain types of horror are popular. There's a perverse pleasure in being disturbed.
Fans of paranormal romance looking for something with a lot of style and atmosphere should flock to BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA. It's both different and familiar, in all the best ways. It's certainly a promising beginning to Tucholke's career.