The Diviners - by Libba Bray
"Twists and turns keep readers interested the entire time."
Many people have already experienced the magical and extravagant worlds of Libba Bray. The Sweet Far Thing series is fantastic in its historical setting and extraordinary realms. It is safe to say Bray has done it again with The Diviners. Bray writes historical fiction heartily mixed with supernatural/ magic worlds and powers, as demonstrated by The Sweet Far Thing trilogy. But, as her previous series was set in colonial England in the nineteenth century, this novel is set in New York City, mid-1920s.
The energy of the era comes alive in the tale of a 17 year old courageous flapper named Evie and her experience in the Big Apple. Bray clearly uses authentic dialogue to add to the historic experience and expression of her characters. Evie's character is well developed and demands your attention. Known for being a drama queen, always stirring up trouble in her small hometown, she gets sent to NYC to live with her uncle after revealing a scandal in the town. Her uncle is the curator of museum full of voodoo pieces and haunted items, a museum named "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies". Considering the author, it's no surprise the Evie has special powers. Evie can read an object and know various things about its owner. Depending on the object, she can detect everything from what they had for dinner to their deepest, darkest secrets. When her uncle assists the police with the investigations of several gruesome ritual murders, she uses her powers to unlock clue to lead them to the killer. In true Bray fashion, she's not alone in her abilities. The whole book follows other's stories of supernatural abilities, such as a young man named Memphis from the other side of town. Other characters' powers are revealed throughout the novel, to make up a group called the diviners - hence the name.
The characters and their relationships coupled with the atmosphere and events of the time are the backbone of the novel. Evie's best friend Mabel, who is the daughter of two communist radicals who host many riots, is well developed. Mabel is the balance to Evie's loud and honest personality, which many people can relate to. Theta, another unique character, is a talented performer working as a show girl in a night club. Her witty and mature attitude helps take on Evie's eagerness to do everything in the city.
As a young adult piece, it is obvious that there are definitely going to be love interests. Thankfully, it's not a love triangle. We've had enough of those (The Hunger Games, Matched)! Mabel is desperately in love with Jericho, a tall, quiet young man who works at the museum. Evie, on the other hand, is played by a handsome thief named Sam on her first day in the city. Later, he comes to work for her uncle and it's clear that he is hot for her. Evie's uncle is a bachelor and has no children. This proves to be a disadvantage in dealing with Evie and her late-night partying. There are a couple surprising love interests that come up later in the book, which I found delightful. Bray expresses these connections so vividly that one can actually feel happy for the characters in their relationships.
All in all, Bray's writing style is brilliant as always in this knock-out novel. It's filled with laughs as much as it is awesome supernatural powers and dreams that do not disappoint. The book appears a bit intimidating at about 575 pages, but it is worth the read. Bray's other books are just as long or longer and are still fantastic as well. I always worry that books that long could just drag out in an endless plot, but no worries about this novel. The plot takes twists and turns and keeps readers interested the entire time. I read it in a weekend with no trouble. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys supernatural fiction or is a fan of Libba Bray, like me.
- Blair W.
" . . . murder, chase scenes, arrests, cliffhangers, and secrets that are sure to shock you."
Put a witty heroine in New York City in the 1920's and you get a story about supernatural, occult-based murders? That's exactly what you get in Libba Bray's The Diviners. In the novel, Evie O'Neal is a young woman who likes partying and drinking (during Prohibition, I might add) in a little town in Ohio. When she gets into trouble, she is sent off to live with her Uncle Will, the curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult (which many call "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies) in New York City. Evie thinks this is a reward rather than punishment. New York is the city that never sleeps and she can't wait to live it up there. But when a slew of occult- based murders rocks the city, Evie and her uncle are thrown right into the thick of things. But Evie has a secret. The reason she got sent to New York was because she used this mysterious power at the wrong time (which was when she was very drunk), but now it seems this power can help to solve a mystery. Will it? You'll have to read to find out.
Now, I'm going to be honest. I did not think reading a book about a heroine who said "pos-i-toot-ly" was going to the best course of action in my reading, but many of my friends recommended this book to me, so I pressed on. And Evie O'Neal was not as I expected. She was in fact a witty, positive character who could even find good in (SPOILER ALERT) getting pick-pocketed in New York. You instantly like this character and you keep reading the book to see what her next wise crack will be. But Evie is not the only character that Bray creates well. There is Theta, a chorus line girl with a dark past, Memphis, an African-American man who might be more similar to Evie than he thinks, Mabel, Evie's best friend and accomplice, Jericho, the object of Mabel's crush but a lot more than that, and also Uncle Will. All of these characters live up to their prescribed description and perform as they are expected, with a few twists.
Bray's writing is phenomenal in The Diviners. She manages to take you to New York City in the 1920s without having lived in that time frame. She does a remarkable job of making the Roaring Twenties interesting and fun. Not to say I've lived in the 1920s, but by reading this book I definitely felt like she knew what she was talking about. After she establishes this setting (which she does constantly throughout the book) she goes on to tell the story, writing with a flow as if you are watching the whole thing unfold on a TV screen instead of reading it. It plants very vivid images in your head about what is happening and how the characters feel about what is happening. She adds such a wide variety of emotion to each character and it brings them to life. Now I can see why Bray is a Printz Award recipient. She keeps all 578 pages interesting with instances of murder, chase scenes, arrests, cliffhangers, secrets that are sure to shock you and much more. And even though there are many cliffhangers throughout the book, and the fact that this is just the 1st book in the series, the ending wraps up nicely while still making you beg for more.
Overall, this is a great book and I cannot recommend enough. The Diviners is probably one of the best books I've read in a long time, and I think the reason is the fact that anyone can pick it up, sit down, and have a good time reading it. No matter your personal likes or dislikes as far as reading and genre, I think you will love this book as much as I did. Well, what are you waiting for? The review's over, you could be reading this great book by now! Go out and get your copy of The Diviners today.
- Austin T.
"a page-turning supernatural mystery that you won't want to put down"
A thrilling tale of mystery and the supernatural, Libba Bray's The Diviners is a great, enticing read. New York during the roaring twenties is a magical place for Evie O'Neill, the novel's dauntless protagonist who has been sent away from home to live with her uncle. His museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult is strange, to say the least, but things only get stranger when he is asked to investigate a grotesque murder. Evie, however, has a gift that may help; when she holds an object, she can sense the history of its owner. Although it wasn't quite what she was expecting in New York, Evie may be able to use her ability to catch the killer.
One of the things that made this book enjoyable was the fact that it focuses on all of the stories of the characters with special abilities, not just Evie. This makes the characters' motives clearer and reveals lots of information about their powers and experiences. One chapter is even written specifically about the victim of the murder. Sometimes the reader is given information that Evie is not, like when we got to witness the murder from the victim's perspective. Although Evie could tell a bit about the victim by using her ability, the reader was able to know the full story. I remember waiting for her to figure out what I already knew. Most books are not written in the third person limited point of view for different characters, and I think it was a great choice for Libba Bray.
I also liked the unpredictable plot and unexpected directions that the story took. I remember feeling too excited to put it down. This novel has an intriguing murder mystery, and the supernatural twist of the characters' gifts adds to the excitement. Character development is also very well-written. I really liked Evie's character because she is energetic, bold, and courageous. She has a positive outlook and a limitless imagination. However, she can also be impulsive, and her carelessness is the reason why she has been sent to New York in the first place. However, as Evie's abilities develop, so do her responsibility and thoughtfulness.
Another aspect that made this story so unique and enjoyable is that it takes place in New York City in the 1920s. At first I was worried that I wouldn't be able to relate to this time period very easily, but Libba Bray made the story easy to understand and even relatable to modern times in some ways. She describes such a clear image that I could see a picture of the setting in my head. The characters used 1920s slang, and their dialogue was still easy to understand and believe. I really liked the detailed imagery and accurate historical details in this story. The Diviners by Libba Bray is a page-turning supernatural mystery. I guarantee that you won't want to put it down.