This week I read The Diviners by Libba Bray. It is the first book in a brand new paranormal series set in New York City during the roaring twenties. I loved reading this installment, and I can't wait for the next one in the series!
Seventeen year old Evie O'Neill is the "pos-i-tute-ly" wild heroine in this series. Due to her out of control behavior, her parents send her from a scandalous situation in her hometown of Zenith, Ohio, to New York City to live with her erudite Uncle Will. Will owns The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, better known as the Museum of "The Creepy Crawlies." When he's asked to help the police in a series of heinous murders, Evie tags along with Will to a murder scene. Unable to control herself, Evie touches a buckle on the victim's shoe and "sees" the murder victim's memories. Evie, Uncle Will, and an incredible cast of characters try to find clues that will help solve the murders and stop a serial killer before he strikes again.
I love character-driven books, and the characters in this book are all fascinating. Evie is a bit vapid especially at the beginning of the book, but she more than makes up for her youthful hedonism through her bravery. She just might be the bravest heroine in YA fiction. Ever. :D Then there's her friend Mabel whose parents are early twentieth century Progressives. One would think that Mabel and Evie would have nothing in common, but perhaps there's more to Mabel than meets the eye. Sam Lloyd is a street-smart conman who can literally influence people to ignore his activities. Memphis Campbell is a Harlem numbers runner with a love for poetry. He's a healer, and his little brother has "the sight." Evie's friend Theta is a Ziegfeld chorus girl, and I couldn't help but picture Louise Brooks as Theta while reading the book. Theta has a dark secret and a terrifying gift. And then there's tall and mysterious Jericho, Uncle Will's ward. Jericho has feelings for Evie, but his self-loathing holds him back from expressing how he feels. But perhaps the most awe-inspiring character is Naughty John, you know, the one who does his work with his apron on? Yep. That one. He is the most creeptastically frightening villain I've read in a very long time. He might even beat Mr. Croup from Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.
Libba Bray's research and her attention to detail in this period novel are "pos-i-tute-ly" fantastic. I enjoyed the references to the Harlem Renaissance (both music and literature), the Ziegfeld Follies, fashion, fads, slang, politics, and speakeasies. There is definitely something Fitzgerald-esque about the novel, and not just the fact that Uncle Will's last name is Fitzgerald. I got a sense that there is an all-knowing "eye" observing the characters like they're on a game board, similar to the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg billboard in The Great Gatsby. The separate plots in the novel converge as characters' lives intersect, and the main characters were just starting to make connections to each another by the end of the book, so it will be fun to see how they mesh in the next. The book hints that they will all need to work together because of what is headed their way. As much as I enjoyed reading The Diviners, I would not recommend it for younger teens due to violence and adult situations.
The Diviners book trailer
More @ thedivinersseries.com
So what have you been reading? This is a linky!