The Diviners by Libba Bray
Hardback, 592 pages
Published 18th September 2012 by Atom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
For Evie O'Neill, it's escape. She's never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she's shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she's always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.
But New York City isn't about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren't crimes of passion. They're gruesome. They're planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can't solve them alone.
Evie wasn't just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer - if he doesn't catch her first.
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My thanks go to Atom for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
I was really excited when I heard about the Diviners, even though I haven't read any of Libba Bray's previous work. I have read several rave reviews for Bray's books, but just haven't gotten around to reading them. I knew that with the release of The Diviners, I would finally pick up some of her writing. I decided to set this book as my Halloween read, and picked it up on the 31st of October. This was one of the best decisions I've made (bookwise, anyway!) - it was such a fantastic read for this time of year.
There were a couple of things about The Diviners that worried me - the historical setting, which is often hit or miss for me, and the sheer length of it! I never start a book without finishing it, so starting a 500+ page book is quite a big decision for me! I have to admit that I am now a fan of the 1920's setting and I no longer find thicker books so daunting! This book was just such a pleasure to read and I find it very difficult to fault it. The setting was fantastic - Bray did a sterling job of describing 1920's New York, the fashion, the phrases, the entertainment and the attitude - it all seemed very authentic and I became truly immersed in the culture - It's clear that Bray swotted up on the trends of the 20's and it really paid off.
The story itself was really interesting. The story follows our protagonist, Evie O'Neill, as she moves to New York to stay with her uncle Will, who lives in a museum dedicated to the supernatural. Evie thinks she's going to have the time of her life in New York and she does, though perhaps not in the way she expects! Evie ends up helping her Uncle and his assistant investigate a series of gruesome murders. It sounds like a strange word to use alongside 'gruesome murders' but it was a refreshing plot to read - it felt original and this is certainly one of the more complex, well written young adult books that I've read. It did take a little while to get into the main 'element' of the book, no words were wasted, all building up an intrigue, an atmosphere and a sense of mystery. Though this is a lengthy book, I appreciated each page and I can honestly say that I was never even slightly bored - just sometimes a little creeped out!
I thought that Bray did an amazing job of making me feel uneasy whilst reading this book - I was never really scared whilst reading this, but an extremely eerie feeling definitely lingered whilst I read the whole thing. The murderer in this book, Naughty John, is powerful and ghastly. Though there are no overly detailed macabre scenes, Bray still manages to create this spine-tingling fear. I really appreciated her writing and ability to conjure up such feelings. I thought that the in-depth explorations of the murders and the discovery of the links between them was all very intriguing.
Of course, the book would just flop if it wasn't for it's great characters too. There were a host of exciting characters in The Diviners and I loved learning more about all of them as the story unfolded. I can't say that I favoured a particular character as they were all so well formed and had such great, diverse personalities. I enjoyed the sub-plots that the other characters provided and will look forward to seeing these expanded even more in the next book(s).
Overall, this book impressed me a lot and I am now waiting quite impatiently for the next book in the series! I am so glad that I decided to give this one a go and I will be sure to pick up more of Libba Bray's writing in the future. Highly recommended!