The Diviners by Libba Bray | Book Review

By | 7:48 PM 2 comments
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Book 1 of the Diviners series
YA/Historical Fiction/Paranormal/Mystery
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-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."   
When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

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5 out of 5 Stars 

The Diviners was a unique reading experience. I've been reading quite a lot of painfully formulaic YA books lately, and this was the exact opposite. This was intricately plotted, original in its structure and filled with a cast of realistic and likable characters. Reading The Diviners was like watching one long film that kept me in its grip for days and days. When I finished, I was exhausted, relieved and sad that the experience had ended.

I'm convinced that Libba Bray has a time machine and spends her nights in NYC during the Roaring Twenties. The world-building (part research, part invention) was stitched into every page with great care. The dialogue may come off as a little too much for some, as it's built on many old-fashioned expressions like "the cat's pajamas," and "chin music." Even though the novel is filled with these expressions that people of our age are unfamiliar with, Bray makes it easy to pick up on the meanings without being too obvious about it.

The execution of The Diviners was phenomenal. I'd say that the writing is honestly just really done well, and that's not really debatable. But what really surprised me with this was the effect these words had. While I have a (sometimes obnoxiously present) imagination, this book was much more visual than most I've read. It wasn't a fast read. There were at least a dozen times where I had to set a book down at the end of a scene or chapter because I was still caught in its grip. I wouldn't be able to move on because the images put into my head by Bray were so strong and fascinating, that they had to be dealt with and thoroughly cherished before moving on to the next.

I will warn you, however, that this visual experience comes with a price. While our central character, Evie, is rather superficial and likes to get drunk and party, there are very dark scenes in this book. This is a book about murder, and not murders of the merciful kind. You will witness brutal deaths. I was haunted by scenes and had trouble sleeping one night after reading. I don't scare easy, but this had me spooked. If you have a weak stomach and low tolerance for violent images, I'd say The Diviners may not be the book for you.

With the wide cast of main characters, there was bound to be romance in The Diviners. And there was. Luckily this wasn't done in an archetypal way. Typically in YA relationships are either unrealistically grown at a fast pace or strained by a love triangle. While I think these elements linger ever so slightly in the background of some of the romantic interactions in The Diviners, it's still done well and in a more original way.

While at times this book could have used condensing, that's really the only complaint I have - and for me it's very minor. The Diviners has weaseled its way onto my favorites shelf.

This is a review I wrote last year, when I first read The Diviners.

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  1. your blog layout is AMAZING! I love it. Great review, now I am super excited to read it!!!!

    1. Thanks darling! I hope it lives up to your expectations. :)