★ ★ ★ ★
The Diviners by Libba Bray | Little, Brown and Company | September 2012 | Paperback $11.00
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City — and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.
Here’s a solid book for YA readers who like their paranormal stories with an historical twist (or historical fiction fans who might like a bit of paranormal flavor).
I’ve been meaning to read this since it came out, and I even picked up a copy last spring, but I just never got around to it. That’s why it ended up on my TBR Pile Challenge list this year. It’s great timing, because the sequel (Lair of Dreams) is set to come out this summer. I’ll probably pick it up.
First, the positive: The beautifully historical worldbuilding is great, and I do tend to swoon over that sort of thing. You can’t help but feel sucked right into 1920’s New York. It has a diverse cast of memorable characters. Except for the very beginning and the very end, there was rarely a slow moment, plot-wise. Also, I felt a real sense of suspense and horror several times (especially while trying to read this at bedtime, when the house was quiet and dark and a little bit spooky). All of these things combined to bring my rating for this book up to 4 stars.
Now let’s talk about the little things that I think could have been better. I actually did start reading this book several months ago, but I ended up putting it down because it wasn’t keeping my attention at first. It does get off to kind of a slow start. The characters solve their big mystery around page 400 and then it takes them about 140 more pages to resolve their major plotline, but then there’s still another 50 or so pages of set-up for the next book… it’s a bit long for a YA book, in my opinion (and I’m not one to be afraid of a chunkster). And quite a lot of that page space is taken up by atmospheric and historical stuff. I know, I know, I just said that I loved the detailed setting, and I do, it’s just that after a while I started to think, OK, I get it, we’re in the 1920’s, we can move along now… and honestly, some of the lingo was terribly overused and it got distracting.
All in all, I’m glad I finally read it and I’m glad I got a chance to briefly meet Libba Bray last year. I definitely have high hopes for Lair of Dreams.
Publication information: Bray, Libba. The Diviners. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2012. Print.
Source: Purchased at the Texas Library Association conference, 2013.
Disclaimer: I am not compensated, monetarily or otherwise, for reviews of books or other products.