Review: The Diviners – Libba Bray

Posted 22 September, 2015 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Reviews / 19 Comments

Review: The Diviners – Libba BrayThe Diviners by Libba Bray
Series: The Diviners #1
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on 18 September 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 603
Format: Kindle
Source: Kindle Purchase
4 Stars

Do you believe there are ghosts and demons and Diviners among us?

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, Ziegfield 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....

Printz Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray opens a brand-new historical series with The Diviners, where the glittering surface of the Roaring Twenties hides a mystical horror creeping across the country.

The Diviners is a very complex story, with historical aspects from the ’20s in NYC, magic, ghosts, weird powers, and many characters to follow on their creepy adventures.

My The Diviners review:

I had no idea what to expect when I picked up The Diviners, I hadn’t really heard much about it before I bought my own copy, after received an ARC of Lair of Dreams… What I got was a complex story, following several characters just discovering their new ‘powers’ of divining, seeing the future – or the past by touching an object – healing and others. Following several characters took a while getting used to, because they were all well fleshed out with a distinctive voice, however, through the multitude of sub-plots, they seemed to be closer together than they were when their story started.

At the beginning of The Diviners, Evie grated on my nerves. A lot! A very impulsive young girl, thinking the strict rules around here didn’t necessarily apply to her, she didn’t think things through and realize that there would be consequences for her actions. One of those consequences got her shipped off to her uncle in New York, but this felt like a liberation to her rather than the punishment her parents thought it would be. Evie was a lot smarter than she let on, though, and the way her mind was able to see around the obstacles her uncle and Jericho found in the way when investigating a paranormal serial killer made me admire her even when I didn’t really like her.

Because the diversity of the cast and the many narrative voices, The Diviners was quite slow paced, however, that fit the story perfectly. Searching for a killer who sought out his victims in a strange way, the main plot of stopping that killer implicated many more characters than Evie and her uncle, though. From the show-girl Theta who had her own deadly power, to her piano-playing friend Henry, to Mabel, Memphis and others, they all played an important part in the overall plot, even if most of them had no idea the others were more than most human beings were at the time.

Both the mystery and the mythology in The Diviners are well mastered, and I loved reading about a time in history when life seemed to be so simple, but here, there were dense and dark shadows over the seemingly light-hearted atmosphere in New York. With an omniscient narrator, the story unfolds slowly while sharing big and small secrets in the characters’ lives. The writing is hauntingly beautiful, almost lyrical in places, and allows for the paranormal aspects to feel very real.

Some of my favorite The Diviners quotes:

The wind takes it all in with indifference. It is only the wind. It will not become a radio star or a captain of industry. It will not run for office or fall in love with Douglas Fairbanks or sing the songs of Tin Pan Alley, songs of longing and regret and good times (ain’t we got fun?).

Evie blew kisses and tried not to cry. She waved slowly to the passing rooftops of Zenith, Ohio, where people liked to feel safe and snug and smug, where they handled objects every day in the most ordinary of ways and never once caught glimpses into other people’s secrets that should not be known or had terrible nightmares fo dead brothers. She envied them just a bit.

But it was Memphis’s smile everyone noticed first. When Memphis Campbell decided to turn on the full power of his charm, it always started with the smile: shy at first, then wide and blindingly bright, accompanied by a puppy-dog look that got even hisย aunt Octavia to relent sometimes.

Theta had tried to be what she thought a good wife should be, but every little thing seemed to set Roy off.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

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19 responses to “Review: The Diviners – Libba Bray

  1. I’m happy The Diviners was a win, Lexxie. It certainly sounds very interesting with the big cast and their varying powers. I guess it’s sort of a murder mystery on top of it all? I like that it’s historical YA and I bet having NYC as the setting worked really well. I may, eventually, pick up this one. ๐Ÿ™‚
    **BIG HUGS**

    Bookworm Brandee recently posted: #ShelfLove ~ Perils of Book Hoarding
  2. Oh I am so happy that you enjoyed this one Lexxie^^ I’ve owned a copy for years and have yet to dig into it – even though I just know I’ll love it! I feel an even bigger need to read it now that, like you, I got a copy of Lair of Dreams. I’m glad that you warmed up to Evie, despite her impulsive nature, stuff like that can bug me too but she seems to grow into herself as she goes so I’m ok with that. I also don’t mind a slower pace, if the story can still hold my interest, and this certainly seems to fit the bill! Oh you’ve gotten me excited to finally start this one now ๐Ÿ˜€ Fabulous review! โ™ฅ

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted: Review: Queen of Shadows
    • You should read it, Micheline! It’s a very good and complex story. All the characters are well fleshed out as well, even Evie! I think one of the reasons I was a little bugged with her was because she was quite spoiled – that wasn’t really her fault, though, and she did grow during the story.
      Thanks for stopping by, Micheline!

  3. I keep avoiding this one because of the size, but everyone I know is in love with this novel, so I might have to give it a shot. I’m already 11 books ahead of my yearly goal, so there is no time like the present, right? Great review. This sounds a bit like The Bone Season, and I really loved that one.

    Lyn Kaye recently posted: Garden Gazette September Wrap-Up

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