by Libba Bray
Place on Hold
“Do you believe there are ghosts and demons and diviners among us?
Evie O’Neil 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 the city of speakeasies, shopping, Broadway plays, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfeld girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will, curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult—also known as the Museum of Creepy Crawlies.
Will is haunted by the occult, and 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 they will soon discover something dark and evil has awakened… ”
In The Diviners, in its many chapters we see from the point of view of many characters. Too many to write about. So I’m going to focus on the two most featured characters, Evie and Memphis.
Evie is a modern girl in a modern world. She’s no stranger to a drink, and loves to party late into the night like any flapper. She loves attention, and will go to just about any means to get it, many of them selfish. Though she has good intentions, things never quite seem to work out the way she plans. Evie starts out as not very likable. But she did grow on me. It’s not that she get less selfish/attention getting, but it gets to be more understandable. I still wouldn’t want her to be my best friend, but she does have good intentions.
Memphis is a black number runner for the local numbers game (local lottery), and writes poetry by moonlight in the local cemetery. Both of his parents are out of the picture and he’s just trying to take care of his younger brother who, like Evie, is developing supernatural powers. Memphis actually didn’t leave a huge impression on me. I liked him well enough, but I’m not sure how I feel about him yet in the series.
And just something else I wanted to mention, I loved that there are some LGBT characters thrown in the mix of characters. It’s unfortunately rare in historical fiction. (Although it should be said that Libba Bray’s other historical fiction/fantasy series “A Great and Terrible Beauty” also had an LGBT character. Go Libba!)
This book should not be mistaken for a murder mystery. It’s not a story about a spunky girl with supernatural powers solving crimes as the book jacket suggests. As the reader, it made pretty clear for the start who/what the murderer is. The book is much darker than that. The parts with the killer are just downright spooky and creepy. Real goose bump and heebie jeebie producers. The Diviners is of a slower pace than I’m used to and its about 600 pages, so it felt and read like a long book.
Another adjective I would use to describe The Diviners is “introductory”. Even though there is a lot of book here and there was definitely a plot and plenty of suspense, it feels like we only get a glimpse of the characters and of what is to come in the series. It’s almost like a “calm before the storm” or “here it comes” kind of feeling.
I just love Libba Bray. She’s not only one of my author gods
, she always weaves a damn good story. I know my review is already very long so I’ll keep it short and sweet. I give The Diviners
4.5 of 5 stars. If you like historical fiction or just good fantasy, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.