The Diviners by Libba Bray | Book Review

the diviners

“Now spirits are high; the questions grow bolder. They’re drunk on gin and good times and the silly distraction of the fortune-telling.”

Blurb (Goodreads)- 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.

Thoughts- Imagine the vibrant setting on New York, 1920s, full of jazz music, late night endeavors, and 1920s lingo. One of the things I loved most about this novel was the beautiful atmospheric setting it takes place in. Her writing style quickly envelops you in the world and it’s hard to escape.

I went into this novel knowing very little about it. I knew the time and place it took place which I’m a big fan of it and it’s part of the reason I picked it up. What I wasn’t expecting was a magical, creepy, murder mystery- but I liked it, a lot. I wouldn’t quite say I loved this novel by Bray, but I had pretty high expectations going in considering how much I love her novel Beauty Queens.

The two best things this novel and start of the series have going for it are the amazing and rich world and mysteries that surround it, and the eccentric cast of characters. I really did grow to love the majority of these characters, although some of them shifted in and out of my favor. I personally quite like Evie, she may not be the most likable character but she’s got spunk and I always find that makes for a more interesting protagonist. What I enjoyed the most about her character is that Evie does learn from her mistakes and grows throughout the novel, both in terms of how she treats other people and coming to terms with her gift. I can’t wait to see her grow with her gift in the next installments. I was really praying that this wouldn’t turn into a love triangle, but it did end up morphing into some kind of love square (sort of). Mabel, Sam, and Jericho are all fun and interesting characters and I could find myself relating to each of them in some way at some point in time, but I just don’t know how I feel about the drama that I know will go down between these four.

The rest of our cast, Memphis, Theta, and Henry have to be some of my favorite side characters, especially Theta and Henry and their fun, quirky, relationship. Although I am slightly confused on where Memphis’s story will intertwine with everyone else. That’s what frustrated me the most about this novel is it really does seem to have two or three completely separate stories and while they interacted with each other, they never really completely connected, even when I felt like they should.

The cool thing about this murder mystery is the fact that it’s creepy, and by that I mean, heart-pounding, butterflies, creepy. Bray just has such a way of writing the killer where they’re the perfect balance between simplistic and believable, and super maniacal and evil.

“Yes, something moves again in the shadows. A harbinger of much greater evil to come. Naughty John has come home. And he has work to do.”

While this book did tend to drag at some points and suffered a very slight amount of plot underdevelopment due to (not unloved) character development, it was still a hooking and satisfying read. I definitely recommend picking this up if you need a good YA murder mystery, with a bit of magic and unknown powers thrown in.3



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