Thursday, 31 January 2013

REVIEW: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Pub. Date: September 18th 2012
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 578
Readership: Young adult
Genres: historical, horror, supernatural

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.

I finished this book a week ago and I'm only writing the review now. Why? Because this book blew my mind. It was the first book I read this year and it's going to be hard to top.

The book starts off with a creepy little prologue that sets the tone for the rest of the novel. We then meet Evie. She's a big personality in a small, stunted town in Ohio. Evie is a flapper and she is too big to stay in her small town and after getting into a bit of a jam, her parents ship her off to live with her uncle Will in New York City for a while. I thought Evie was wonderful. She's brass, bold, and has a fire in her. She's smart-mouthed and sassy with wit like a whip but she also has a vulnerability to her. A loneliness that she's too much. Too loud, too big, too bold. She's someone a reader could really relate to. I know I did.

There are so many more characters than just Evie. The points of view vary throughout the novel between Memphis, Theta, Sam, Madge, a few others, and even the villain himself. In some books it would be too much, too confusing, but Bray made it flow. She made it easy to follow and it didn't bother me at all. It was the roaring twenties. New York was bursting at the seams with glitz, glamour and gold. With dreams and with love and with so many different people. It's only natural to get to see that from quite a few different people.

I was never once bored and this is a 600 page book. Bray's vivid, descriptive storytelling made that possible. She has an amazing way with words. She makes you feel like you're right there in the streets of New York with the characters, running around, going to clubs with Theta, sitting in the museum's library with Evie and her Uncle and sitting in the cemetery with Memphis writing his poetry.

I loved this book more than I expected. I wasn't sure how it was going to go, really. A supernatural horror story set in the 20s. At first it didn't really compute in my brain but wow, was I blown away. Bray weaves the gruesome killings into it masterfully. She makes Naughty John seem more real that I want him to be. Some of the passages made my skin crawl and immediately get up and turn a few more lights on. Especially since that Naughty John tune got stuck in my head. It's still stuck in my head. Then there is the mythos of the powers some of the characters have. The mystery. And boy, what a mystery it is. By the end of the book there are still questions. Usually that angers me but you know, I loved this book too much to care. It only makes me want the sequel that much more.

The plot to The Diviners is complex. It's rich with storytelling, with characters, with vivid imagery and with scares. You're not going to want to put it down. The only reason it took me so long to read it was because I didn't want it to end. I became so attached to the characters and the story that I really wanted it to be the length of a George R R Martin novel. The Diviners is such an original concept and wonderful story that I really, really want more. I posi-tutely cannot wait for the sequel.



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