Review | Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray

Spoiler Free

The Diviners must stand, or all shall fall.

Published: October 3, 2017

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 560 (Kindle)

Series: The Diviners #3

5 Stars

The land is old, the land is vast, he has no future, he has no past, his coat is sewn with many woes, he’ll bring the dead, the King of Crows.

New York City.
1927.
Lights are bright.
Jazz is king.
Parties are wild.
And the dead are coming…

After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough lies. They’re more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward’s Island, far from the city’s bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten–ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows.

With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them face-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they’ve ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation–a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves.

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Trigger Warning: sexual assault, domestic violence, racism, sexism, anti-Semitism – among other things

Holy. Wowza. This series just keeps getting better and better.

In the third installment of this mind bogglingly good YA fantasy series, everything ramps up. This series MUST be read in order and while this is a spoiler free review, please note that I will be talking about things that may inadvertently spoil the previous two in the series. Read at your own risk!

While the first two books in this series both had their own primary “bad guy”, this is the first time we really get to focus on the main antagonist of the story, the King of Crows. Once again the dead are rising and instead of just doing some general spooky stuff, they’re hungry. And hungry for humans, to boot. It’s genuinely creepy. Add in the fact that there’s an insane asylum on an isolated island that seems to be where the dead are originating from. There’s a specific scene of this book that I found unsettling and bone chilling and I absolutely loved it. Plus, Theta’s got some personal stuff going on, Evie has found herself in a love triangle, Ling is struggling with her hero possibly being a monster, Henry is facing his past, Mabel has wound up in some trouble, Jericho is going behind enemy lines, Memphis is just trying to stay alive, and Sam is, well, being Sam.

One of the things I love most about this series is that it’s set in my favorite period (1920’s) and yet is so relevant to today it’s scary. This series has a very diverse cast of characters (which we love to see) and, unfortunately, the 1920’s weren’t known for it’s positivity and acceptance. Our characters deal with sexism and racism and everything in between. Bray tackles both overt and covert racism and highlights the ways in which those in power wield that power. It’s heartbreaking and yet beautifully written.

More and more the truth comes out in this book. Project Buffalo feels less of a mystery and more like a sinister prophecy coming to light. Family ties and friendships are tested. History threatens to repeat itself. And above all, who can the Diviners truly trust aside from each other? There are a lot of storylines that run concurrently throughout this series and this installment really blends them all nicely, including past and present. This answered a lot of questions I had and then gave me a few more I hope will be answered in the final book, but this was spooky AND satisfying!

The ending of this book broke me into like a thousand little pieces I cannot even explain to you how RUDE Libba Bray was to us in this one. I’m still kind of reeling. I’m very much looking forward to the final installment of what has easily become one of my favorite book series of all time! The good news is that these are LOOOOONG and I’ll be able to really savor the finale once I pick it up!

Happy reading
Book Links

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Murder by the Book

The Diviners Series

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