The Mountains of Instead

Championing fiction as an escape from pandemics, politics and bad TV.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - April Genevieve Tucholke talks Amoral Love Interests

Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea is the debut novel of April Genevieve Tucholke - and what a debut!  Violet White is waiting away a long, hot summer in a house on the edge of the pacific. Life is quiet, dull even, until the arrival of River West. There to rent out the summer house, River is enigmatic, seductive and unsettling. Violet cannot stay away. But strange things are happening in her corner of the world and before long she is realises that there is more to River than meets the eye, that she cannot trust her own eyes, never mind her own heart, and that she doesn't really care.

Between the Devil and The Deep Blue Sea is utterly mesmerising. All faded splendour, old money and bohemian parents who run off to Paris for their Art, it is set in the modern world yet feels oddly ageless - falling somewhere between Manderlay and Gatsby. It's all very atmospheric, brimming with odd monikers, imperfectly perfect community otherworldly children, chasing devils and telling strange stories.

The writing is incredibly visual and astonishingly good and readers will find themselves pulled helplessly into the world that April Tucholke has created even as they silently urge Violet to get out of it.  Violet herself is a joy to read, a slightly eccentric character who is remarkably clear sighted when it comes to her feelings, and incredibly honest with herself even as she navigates difficult relationships with her twin brother, her best frenemie and, of course, River.  River is something else. Truly unsettling yet utterly captivating he will send chills down your spine - in the best and worst possible way.  But doesn't everyone love a bad boy - or at least one who is not, perhaps, entirely good?  April Genevieve Tucholke is an author who clearly thinks so and here she is to talk about some of the best:

I’m not a big fan of black and white characters. With some key exceptions, such as Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird, I’m more comfortable with gray. I have a high tolerance for amorality (and mischief) when it’s presented to me in a charming, complex package. River stands on the back of many fictional characters with questionable morals. Here are my top five.

1. Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. He's proud, aristocratic, mysterious, and utterly evil. Francis Ford Coppola's film version, in particular, depicted Dracula as a sensuous Byronic hero--and I can't help being drawn in every time. You want him to die, you want the protagonists to kill him, you do....just not yet. Not yet. 

2. Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights.  I wanted River to have the charm and mischievousness of Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre and the wildness, passion, and manipulative ferocity of Heathcliff. And I wanted him to lie more than both of them put together.

3. Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility. 
He’s reckless and wicked, but he really knows his poetry. He’s thoughtless, and selfish, and yet his love for Marianne is genuine.

4. Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind.
Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind. I love his love for the flawed, flawed Scarlett. I love how he is drawn to her ambition, and greed, and unsentimental determination.I love that he is both a cynic, and an idealist. What a fascinating, brilliant character.  

5. Jaime Lannister in A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin (SPOILERS ahead)
Jaime starts off with a bang by pushing a kid out a tower window in A Game of Thrones. And then, in book 3, everything changes. He loses a hand and gains a heart.

Thank you, April. What an excellent list. We'd like to add The Darkling from Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone (because Hannah at F&F clearly loves him) and also Max De Winter from Rebecca because, well, swoon. This post has been brought to you by the combined forces of April and Hannah at Faber and Faber (who we would like to thank for sending us a copy of this title to review) and we broke our recent no blog tour rule to be part of this one because the book is just so damn good.  You can find the other stops on the tour on the banner in the sidebar and you can find the book in all places where good books are sold.


I know exactly why you love this book. It's so atmospheric and it feels like time has stopped. It sucks you right in and the strangely weird occurances don't seem all that weird. Ah... I may not be very coherrent now. LOL

P.S The Darkling will have my heart forever.

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