Now, this books has a pretty title (after a song if I'm not incorrect, at least they mention a song with that title in the book), and the first line is a good one:
"You stop fearing the Devil when you're holding his hand"I'm intrigued by this. Who is this devil and what does he do? It does make the beginning a bit tedious, because you are anticipating his arrival, and you are reading through a lot of descriptions and Violet and her grandmother Freddie talking about the devil and not saying damn so much (damn count in the book: 64). Violet White and her brother Luke have two irresponsible artist parents who have run off to Europe with all their savings, leaving their two kids in a run down old mansion and a growing pile of bills. So, this is a no-parent YA, I know some of you have problems with this, but at least here their absence is explained (if entirely fucked up). Vi and Luke love each other, but are quite cruel to each other. He's a real douche and totally insufferable throughout a large part of the book. She is a pretentious girl in her dead grandmothers clothes, always with a book nearby and a mouth ready to taste things so she can describe them. Their neighbor Sunshine Black (Black/White what are you doing author?) is Violet's only friend, and that mostly due to proximity, and also Luke's make-out partner (one of them anyway).
The house they live in is a character of its own, named Citizen Kane, and we get a lot of descriptions of the house, the property and the decay. Lots and lots and lots. The house and the food they eat is well described. The smells too. If you don't like that kind of thing the first part of this book is not for you. I don't mind as I love these kinds of houses. Vi and Luke are running out of money and can't pay all their bills anymore, so Vi hangs a poster offering the guest house for rent.
Cue the Devil. He drives up in his nice car, is a seventeen year old boy who pays upfront (and folds origami out of money and leaves it around). His name is River West. Sunshine says that sounds made up, and I laughed hard at that because Violet White and Sunshine Black does not?
River is beautiful and charming and Vi falls in love with him.
" 'His name is River West,' Sunshine slipped in. 'And Violet's decided she's going to be mad as a hatter in love with him.' "
Now the insta-love is actually explained later, but when I didn't for sure know that it was, ah, magically induced? HATE IT. River West is charming, a good cook and everybody likes him, for half a day or so, then the lies pile up and scary things start to happen and Vi fixates more on River, more on her dead grandmother (and finding letters that have been left behind) and on the weird things that are going on. There are devil's in graveyards, scary men in tunnels, fire's in attics and witches with red hair. It turns out that River is doing most of it, that he's got this power (glow, spark, burn, whatever) to make people feel, and think and do as he wants and it is addicting for those who do it and those it is inflicted upon. He's a narcotic and Vi is hooked. So we find that it has been River all along (or William Redding as he is called). He's got a brother that shows up and tries to fetch him back home, they fight and make up, and just as they are supposed to leave and calm once again settle over their idyllic little town with their italian food and coffe, and their organic grocerystore, but no! There's a third brother, a half-brother to be exact, and he's got powers too (only River has them of the other two), and he hates River badly and wants to either kill him or have him join him in mass murder sprees (which River has been doing anyway, but regrets rather than enjoys)
Honestly this book is like if you mashed up Gilmore Girls and/or Hart of Dixe with something like Supernatural or Sleepy Hollow, then added in a little bit of some crime show or other. It would make a great series for the CW.
Now I liked the book somewhat, and I enjoy good villains and think they can be sexy or whatever, but River? Nope. He's like the nicer bad guy and I can't, and Vi's still into him at the end of the book. She does think it might still be from having been glowed for so long, so who knows what happens next. The follow up is called Between the Spark and the Burn. So I guess that's about brothers fighing and Vi getting stuck between them. I would have liked it if River was more of a villain, that there wasn't some badder guy out there, but how this resolves itself is still unknown. I would also have liked for it to be more eerie, with all the descriptions it could have been, but it didn't feel remotely scary. Even with nighttime graveyards and witch hunts going on. The thought of someone controlling your mind without your complete knowledge though: TERRIFYING!
It was a little heavy on the descriptions at time, but certainly way to heavy with the references, I counted 40, but might have missed some!
Anyone agree with some of this or think I'm dead wrong? Comment!