Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Another paranormal series? Why???
We're in rural Maine, a town called Echo, with one Italian family (that run the coffee shop and the Italian restaurant) and two dilapidated mansions that belonged the rich families. One family, the Glenships, has left the area, the other, the Whites, still lives in "Citizen Kane", albeit in reduced circumstances. Currently, Citizen is occupied by Luke and Violet while their parents paint their way through Europe; in need of cash, Violet rents out their guest house to River. And then the fun starts: the Devil is seen in a graveyard, a young girl disappears (but turns out to have been staying in the treehouse on the Glenship estate. Even more strange things happen, and it becomes clear that they're centered around River... but how?
Here's the problem: the level of horror or creepiness doesn't ever climb high enough. The relationship between Luke and Violet is nothing special, you never get the sense that Violet and Sunshine are real friends, although we're told that they are, and Violet's infatuation with River just felt a little off somehow (beyond what the plot says it should be). What happens in Echo is supposed to somehow be the work of the Devil, and perhaps tied in to events from the past - or at least people from the past - but there's no sense of urgency here. Even Violet's search for her grandmother's letters (or diaries, or something that would in a way bring her back)is muted.
My guess? If the books in the series were condensed, edited into one stand-alone, the gothic horror would have been ratcheted up to the level needed. It's like the author took the creepiness of Rebecca or a Victoria Holt and stretched it too thin in order to fit the needs of a series. Less would have been so much more.
ARC provided by publisher.