Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners
by Libba Bray
Read: October 2 - 8, 2013
September 18, 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 
Source: Library
Category: Historical fiction, Supernatural, Horror, YA

Series: The Diviners book 1
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

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.

Confession time

1) I waited over a year from when it was first published, to read The Diviners. My reason for this is that I am a shallow girl who likes HEAs and I've clued into the fact that Libba Bray does not often grant them - at least in the way I want them to happen. I was afraid of investing in a series and being destroyed at the end of it. I'm still slightly fearful of this. But I don't regret reading The Diviners.

2) It took me an entire week to read this book, which may not sound like a big deal, but it's a long time for me. Not only is The Diviners nearly 600 pages long, but it is richly steeped historical fiction, spine tingling horror, as well as a large and complex cast of characters. I loved every minute of it. 

This book made me feel 

Transported to New York City in the 1920s.
The Diviners is incredibly well researched, from the sights and sounds of New York in the mid 1920s to the dialect and popular phrases - giggle juice, cloche hats, bobbed hair, flapper dresses, Ziegfeld follies. All of it was a feast for my senses and brought this story to life.  I am astounded by the amount of careful crafting that went into creating the context for this story. Not only is The Diviners accurate historical fiction, but it also captures the spirit of the roaring twenties. The rush of excitement in this time period, the focus on the spiritual, but also more sober areas of tension and unrest. 

Afraid of what lies in the darkness.
This book freaked me out, which is one reason that it took me so long to get through it. The Diviners is not for the faint of heart. A serial killer is on the loose in New York, enacting strange cult like murders, and no one can find our catch him. Probably because it's clear from the beginning that the killer is already dead. How is that possible? Some of the things that happen are pretty dark, and I could only handle so much of it at a time, before I had to put it down and remember it's just a book. However, this was the perfect spooky story to usher in October - and the perfect review with which to say good by to the month. 

The characters 

Mesmerized me with their complexity
The Diviners has a large cast of characters, and details about them are revealed deliciously slowly. Most of them have yet to be unraveled completely, but I've already fallen for so many of them. I enjoyed finding out the different ways they were connected to each other in the past, speculating how they'll connect in the future, and especially trying to figure out their special talents and secrets. First impressions aren't always reliable, and friends or enemies can be lurking around any corner. I wrote out a detailed list of more than ten characters with the hopes of working them into my review, but then decided that it got to be too much information, and it's more fun to discover them all for yourself, anyway. 

One character demands that I talk about her.

You might say the star of the show is Evie O'Neil, or at least she'd want you to think that. When the book begins, Evie lives in small town Ohio. One night she goes to a party, gets drunk and wants to impress her friends. You see, she has the ability to touch an object that belongs to someone else and read their secrets in it. But the truth she reveals about another person gets her into trouble. As punishment Evie is sent to live with her Uncle Will in New York. To Evie, this is much more of an opportunity than a punishment. Little does she know that everything about her life is about to change. 

If I'm honest, I wasn't the biggest fan of Evie in the beginning of this story. She seemed a little too silly and shallow for my tastes - more interested in herself and having a good time than anything else. But one of my favorite things about this book is how much I fell for her throughout the course of it. Evie doesn't really change tremendously within this book. But I got to know her better, realized that there was much more to this girl and ended up falling for her flaws and all. My impressions of Evie were mirrored by another character in this story, whom I will not name but also fell for. 

Now I can't wait for Lair of Dreams to find out what Bray has in store for us next. I don't doubt it will be brilliant. 

Love Triangle Factor: So hard to rate in a book with this many characters and POVS. But I'll say MILD for now. There's one potential love triangle brewing, though I hope it doesn't turn into anything too strong. I'm also not convinced it will actually be one. 
Cliffhanger Scale: Low


  1. First impressions can be a huge deal, but you're right! They aren't everything. For me, they do affect my reading though. Like for you, when you thought of Evie a bit shallow and silly at first? IT'd bother me a whole lot throughout the novel, but I would get over it eventually if there's character growth. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I've been meaning to pick it up, but since I'm not as perhaps visual reader as you, I'm sure I wouldn't be that afraid. I sure hope not! I'm a big scary-pants and I don't stand any form of horror lol. So, yes, I just hope it isn't as scary as you just stated :D PS. Don't you just love the cover of both--UK and US? This may be one of the few times where both of them are absolutely stunning. Lovely review, my friend!

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, Lauren! I read it in two days flat since I locked myself up in my room and refused to come out until the book was finished - I'm a little besotted with Libba Bray. I absolutely agree that this book is incredibly atmospheric and definitely spine-tingling scary, but I'm so eager to read the sequel and with Bray having nearly a two-year gap in-between publications, I have a feeling it'll be amazing. Fantastic review, as always, Lauren! :)

  3. I still haven't picked this one back up. I started it, got bored (was only about 20% in), put it down...and it's stayed on my shelf. I KNOW I need to finish it because I do love Libba Bray (if for nothing more than her awesome name, though her writing rocks).

  4. YES LAUREN! This book really freaked me out too, especially those chapters that switched to the next victim's POV. *shudders* I wanted to just sort of read through my fingers as that would somehow make them less dead by the time the chapter was over. SO GOOD! And I was not a fan of Evie in the beginning either, but like you, she grew on me and I came to understand her more and more which I loved. Can't wait to compare notes on book 2 with you!

  5. So glad you finally read this book and enjoyed it, L! I know you were worried about it based on past Libba Bray experiences:) But seriously, I am SO FLIPPING EXCITED about this series! The Diviners blew me away (that GORGEOUS writing!) and I can't wait to see where Bray takes us in this series! And yeah--not sure if there will actually be a LT either--if so it will be an unusual one, not your standard fare, I think:) GREAT review!

  6. I really enjoyed The Diviners. The plot was really interesting, but the characters were definitely the stars of this book. I felt the same as you did about Evie in the beginning, she came across as very shallow, but the more I got to know her, the more I realized there was more to her than that. There were so many different POVs but I thought Libba Bray did a great job, I still felt like I got to know those characters fairly well. I think future books will flesh out those characters even more. Yes, I think there is a love triangle being set up, we'll just have to see how this is handled. Great review, glad you enjoyed the book! ~Pam

  7. I was so nervous when you said you didn't like Evie at first. She's one of the characters that I most see myself in, so I'm glad you ended up liking her. I really enjoyed this one--the 1920s, the horror, the mystery, the romance. All of it was perfect. I'm excited for the sequel as well, but I'll probably have to reread this one since it's been almost a year and a half since I read it.

  8. I'm glad that you ended up loving this book Lauren. I was a little wary going into it, as historical fiction wasn't the usual type of genre that I read, also the 600 pages, I found a bit of turn off. But I found myself totally absorbed in this book, Bray's world she created was amazing, also the characters. The change in pov did have me a bit baffled at first, but then I was easily able to form favourites. I'm quite interested in finding out who else you ended up liking, I think I may know though. Great review Lauren, I hope the next book ends up meeting our expectations too! :)

  9. The Diviners was my first Libba Bray experience and, for that, I am glad. This book was so dark and creepy and authentic --- rich with detail and bubbling with personality! Like you, Evie took a bit to warm up to but it's like, BAM, and when it happens, you find yourself wishing you were her bestest pal. And Memphis. I just looooooved Memphis. Every one of these characters is beautiful and tragic and loveable in their own way (murder excluded, of course). I am so excited to see what Bray has in store for us in Book #2!

  10. I'm so glad you liked this one! I was surprised by how much I loved it! It was definitely creepy, there were a few times I had to put it down and work out the chills. The characters are amazing. I'm glad you loved Evie, she is flawed but so fantastic!

  11. Ah, I'm glad you enjoyed this! I haven't really connected with any of this author's books before this one, so I was surprised by how much I liked it, too. The author clearly did an amazing amount of research. My only complaint was length--I honestly felt like it was at least 100 pages too long and could have lived without a lot of the side plots. Still looking forward to the next one, though!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  12. Glad you finally read this one, Lauren! I'm not actually bothered by the lack of HEAs, but I do wonder if Bray will eventually go in that direction. The conclusion to Gemma Doyle trilogy was not a HEA at all, if I remember it properly.
    I love that you talked about the setting. That was by far my favorite aspect of this book. Bray isn't even setting out to write a work of historical fiction exactly - in many ways it seems as though she is just using this era to tell a paranormal story (feel free to disagree with me though :) - and so the amount of research is incredible. It definitely ups my opinion of Bray and her writing, that's for sure.
    I can't wait to read Lair of Dreams now either.

  13. Yay, I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Lauren! I know you don't like Bray's affinity for the unhappily ever after, but I'm hopeful at least SOMEONE in this series will get one, what with all the characters we're following right now. :) This was so long that I moved from my ARC to the audio, and I think I'll do the audio again this time around. The narrator was PERFECTION, which is saying a lot considering how many characters she had to portray, but she does a fantastic job of it. And the writing is just brilliant....I agree, you can tell how much research went into this story. Loved it, and I cannot wait for the next installment.


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