The Diviners by Libba Bray

Genre: YA Paranormal Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Atom

‘Lair of Dreams’ - book two in The Diviners series - is finally a tangible reality; after waiting what feels like FOREVER (and is actually only like three years) for the sequel to be released, it is finally almost here. I’m actually lucky enough to have been sent an e-ARC for review, so I thought I’d reread ‘The Diviners’ first. Though I remember loving it the first time round, I’d never actually re-read it (it’s like 500 pages or something).

‘The Diviners’ is a book that shows off just how skilled a writer Libba Bray is. The novel is written in third person, and though it mainly focuses on Evie’s story, it manages to weave in a whole lot of other people, too. The great thing is that you get backgrounds and motivations and arcs for all of these side characters - Mabel, Theta, Henry, Sam, Memphis and Isaiah, to name just a few. Most of them come into contact with the main characters - Evie, Uncle Will and Jericho - but some of them don’t. However, they all just slot into the story so easily. I think that perhaps the third person and the multitude of characters can sometimes lead to a bit of detachment - there are so many people to catch up with, and you’re always going to bond more with some than others. I just felt that though Evie was the main character, and she was well-developed and had layers and I was interested in her, I wasn’t necessarily connected to her. She’s never going to make my list of top ten characters ever.

Usually, I am a characters person - some people read books for the plot or the mystery or whatever, and I’m here for the characters. But with this book, the main draw is 100% the mystery. Evie has been sent to New York to stay with her uncle, who runs a Museum focused on the occult. He is asked by the police to help find a ritualistic serial murderer - and Evie, being stubborn and curious and determined - sort of forces her way onto the case. I don’t want to spoil too much, but I will say that this novel is seriously creepy. The case is fantastic, and so is the pacing of it. It’s a long book and there’s a fair amount of information, but it is neither dumped on you or rushed over. It’s handled really skilfully - I totally appreciate that this was not an easy task for Bray, and she makes it seem like it is.

Libba Bray does a fantastic job creating 1920s America - you can practically taste the setting, it’s so vividly described. She shows us the glitzy side - parties and bootlegging and flappers - but also the darker underbelly. We see a subtle depiction of racial tensions and the excess of the era and the side-affects of industrial advancement with no limits.

There is a small amount of romance in this novel. Admittedly, I love romance in novels, so would’ve liked a bit more in this one, but also appreciated how it was such a side note to all of the other very interesting things that happen in the novel. I do worry, though, that there’s a love triangle on the horizon, and I am so not on board with that.

This novel shows us 1920s America, the occult and romance. What more could you ask for? Though this novel is about 500 pages, at least, it’s just getting started. There are so many loose ends and threads of stories just introduced. It’s such a complicated novel, but it’s really interesting too, and I’m excited to see where the next book takes us!