Yes, this is me still trying to catch up with all the reviews I need to write for the books I’ve read recently! This time, I’m reviewing The Diviners by Libba Bray which I read in May. I ended up really enjoying this book despite my fear that I wouldn’t connect with it.
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 he’ll 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 hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.
All I knew about this book before I went into it was that it was paranormal/urban fantasy/historical fiction set in 1920’s New York City. I was a little worried I wouldn’t enjoy it as much because I don’t often read any urban fantasies anymore, but I had nothing to worry about because I loved this book a ton!
The first thing that really stood out to me was the atmosphere, which was crazy good. It is very clear that Bray did a lot of research into the time period to make the setting as realistic as possible, and the inclusion of lingo from the 1920’s was really fun to read, although it took me a minute to figure out what they meant. The 20’s are also a time period that is really glamorous from our perspective, but Bray also included the less than savory aspects as well, from eugenics to the KKK to the Pillar of Fire Church. Combining all these horrifying and creepy real life movements and events with paranormal aspects really made for a creepy atmosphere. There were times where I couldn’t read this book before bed because Naughty John would creep me out! There is ton of diversity throughout the book that felt really natural and I enjoyed that aspect as well.
The cast of characters was another thing that really stood out to me, especially Evie! I loved her as a character, she really wanted to be in the center of the action and show, but she was also very vulnerable and had a tough time trying to reign in her personality which was sometimes too much for those around her. The other characters were amazing as well, and each of them had a supernatural ability that was revealed as the story went on. And then there is Naughty John, who was probably the creepiest character I’ve ever read about, and that’s saying something. The little song he sings is what really gets me though.
I’m very excited to see where the story goes from here, and I’m sure that it will just get creepier which I’m oddly excited about!