Review | The Diviners by Libba Bray

Spoiler Free

“Let’s conjure up some fun, shall we?”

Published: September 18, 2012

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 599 (Kindle)

Series: The Diviners #1

5 Stars

“There are awful events unfolding. Something unholy is at hand.”

SOMETHING DARK AND EVIL HAS AWAKENED… 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 her uncle will 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 is hiding a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened…

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Trigger Warnings: graphic descriptions of murder

I say this a lot, but I can’t believe it took me so long to read this!

If you don’t know, the 1920’s is one of my favorite, if not my most favorite, time period to visit when it comes to historical fiction. I adore flappers, the glitz and glam of the 20’s, that turn of the century type of industrial boom. It’s so interesting to me. Historical mysteries are one of my favorite little subgenres. I love magic and gothic elements and murder mysteries and historical time periods and ghosts and creepiness and a little bit of romance and boy, oh boy, did this book have it all!

It was obvious that there was a lot of research and time spent writing this, crafting the magical elements, but also just the focus on the time period. Every time I picked this book up I felt instantly transported to the glamorous and dangerous 20’s New York City, hunting a killer, unraveling a mystery bigger than this universe, and traversing typical problems of that time. It was such an immersive read, almost instantly. I loved the way Bray was able to weave both the magical and the historically realistic together, it was a pure delight to read.

There are a lot of characters in this novel and it works so well! It reads from multiple POVs and reminds me a lot of a soap opera in the way it kind of bounces back and forth while still maintaining the central voice of the story (Evie O’Neill). I love that we weren’t simply rooted to her narrative because it helps propel the story further, helps lay the ground work for the continuation of the series, and just makes for an even more immersive read. I want to say that Evie is my favorite character of the book, but I think Sam is, honestly. He’s loyal if you deserve it, smart, capable, funny, never misses a chance to flirt, and has the ability to be the best guy in the room but isn’t afraid to do what was needed. All the characters felt super fleshed out and dynamic, it was incredible. Even the smaller characters (Mabel, Henry, the older ladies upstairs) all felt like they were much deeper than what was on the surface.

I want to touch on the murders briefly because I don’t want to give away too much of this element, but hot damn this was so interesting! It reminded me so much of The Alienist in that it was like behavioral profiling before it was a “thing”, you see the way the police handle things much differently than they do now, and you have that good old fashioned detective work going on (so much library time, I LOVE it!). The 20’s was really the perfect backdrop for this story considering how popular the supernatural and the occult were becoming, and I felt very much like I was listening to a super long version of the Lore podcast. It was perfect, to say the least.

This book is long, it’s dark, it’s witty, it’s stunningly written, it’s immersive, it’s intense, it’s….. wonderful. It is sort of slow to start, especially when you’re thinking about the murder mystery aspect, but you get sucked in immediately. I loved it, and I cannot wait to see where this series goes.

P.S. I read this book while watching the Cozy Fall Coffee Shop video from Calmed by Nature on YouTube and it was the perfect pairing! The jazz music isn’t distracting but helps set the tone for the 20’s! Highly recommend listening while you read!

Happy reading
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2 thoughts on “Review | The Diviners by Libba Bray

  1. Pingback: Wrap-Up | October 2020 | Tonkin About Books

  2. Pingback: Review | Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray | Tonkin About Books

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