Between the Spark and the Burn

By April Genevieve Tucholke
Published on August 2014
Published by Dial Books
Source: Purchased
The conclusion to Between the Devil and The Deep Blue Sea, this gothic thriller romance with shades of Stephen King and Daphne du Maurier is a must-read for fans of Beautiful Creatures and Anna Dressed in Blood.

Freddie once told me that the Devil created all the fear in the world. But then, the Devil once told me that it's easier to forgive someone for scaring you than for making you cry.

The problem with River West Redding was that he'd done both to me.

The crooked-smiling liar River West Redding, who drove into Violet's life one summer day and shook her world to pieces, is gone. Violet and Neely, River's other brother, are left to worry—until they catch a two a.m. radio program about strange events in a distant mountain town. They take off in search of River but are always a step behind, finding instead frenzied towns, witch hunts, and a wind-whipped island with the thrum of something strange and dangerous just under the surface. It isn't long before Violet begins to wonder if Neely, the one Redding brother she thought trustworthy, has been hiding a secret of his own . . .

Remember how I said I wasn't going to read the book that came after Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea since the first one was so 'meh' and I only found out about a second one after I'd gone on Goodreads to look up stuff with which to write a review? (I'd link the original review, but as of writing time it hasn't been posted yet and so I don't actually um...have a link.)

Well hold onto your horses, friends, because I read the second book and whooo-boy. This is a thing that happened, let me tell you.

Alright, so I picked up the first book because I liked the typography and maybe I'd been reading too much Supernatural fanfiction, but I've developed a soft spot for Satan or at least fictionalized Satan and look...I spend too much time on Tumblr and Mark Pellegrino is dreamy. What do you want from my life? Something meaningful? Sweetheart, you are looking in the wrong galldang place. Part of what upset me most about the first book was that "The Devil" is just some kid. And I don't mean he's taken the form of some kid or any of that. I mean he's some kid and he's totally human and has some super powers of compulsion and it's honestly not even all that interesting.

Well, Violet and her gang are back in an all new- No. Wait. No, they're pretty much exactly where we left them the last time: with Violet pining after a Redding and getting weird about her dead grandma's mysterious life before she became someone's mother and then someone's grandmother and growing up and maturity happened like it always seems to in fiction: all at once like you've leveled up and gain wisdom and the sudden ability to pay all your bills and understand what your car insurance actually covers.

Anyway, there they are, doing their thing with Violet obsessing over River and her dead grandmother. Look, I don't mean to be callous about her dead grandma. Freddie seems like she was an awesome human being and grief is a process that takes a different amount of time for people to manage, but Freddie's been gone for five years and even without this Redding mess, Violet's got some way bigger problems. Like the fact that it's winter in Maine and they don't have any heat and why is nobody getting a job? How is this house not condemned? Where's the county in all of this? CPS should've come and gone way before the first book started.

But no, Neely comes back and reveals that, guess what: he too is broke, but they're gonna take his shiny new BMW on a road trip to go looking for River and the torture happy plot device half bother Brodie since they've both disappeared and blah blah blah so starts the most boring YA adventure I've been in a while.

They pick up more strays along the way, because of course they do, and the love triangle continues, because of course it does and look. If you're gonna end up taking five people on a roadtrip from North Carolina to somewhere nearish Boulder, CO (which is a lovely area and I encourage everyone to go visit,) in the middle of winter, you need more than a hundred bucks and change to do it. This novel was published in 2014. It knows how gas prices work. Now, I know, it's a YA novel and we shouldn't be burdening The Children with those particular worries quite yet. Here's the thing though: Violet's got an undercurrent of stressed about money on her road trip but she's not nearly stressed enough. And not only that, but it has to say something about this not so compelling plot that I spent more time trying to figure out how they'd make that trip in the first place than what was going on. People were drowning and I didn't even drop a grain of rice out of my burrito about it.

When I finished the first book, I was pretty satisfied with the ending for what it was. By the time I got to the end of this book, I wasn't so satisfied. Why? Because essentially it's the exact same friggen ending. A Redding boy goes off to do a thing: Violet stays at home pining for him. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. What Violet needs to do is realize that she's living in a really awful situation and that no white knight is gonna come save her since they've both crapped out on her so far. Maybe, just maybe, she should stop fixating on her grandmother's Mysterious Past, suck it up and get a job, and while she's at it maybe get her brother to get a job too. Instead, she's taking in strays left and right and filling up their falling apart heat-less mansion by the sea and none of these people have any money to buy groceries.

If this book series is supposed to be about choices (as implied by the whole 'Between' thing) then maybe in the third book Violet can realize that 'neither' is an option and go walk off and do what needs to be done the way her fairly independent grandma would've wanted her to. And then she can develop a time machine to go back and yell at herself for going camping in January without the proper gear and beg for answers on how Neely's car was averaging insane gas mileage because that might just make her rich enough to fix the monument to White Privilege in which she lives.

Please don't waste your time on this book. It's not worth it. The first one isn't worth it either.

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