I adored Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty series when it was first released, so when I heard about the Diviners, I knew I had to read it. Set in the 1920s, a time of jazz, prohibition and speakeasies Evie -cheerfully exiled from Ohio to New York and life with her uncle, the curator of a museum of occult and creepy things – finds herself slap bang in the middle of a mystery of her own as a series of gruesome ritualistic, occult murders take place in the city and her uncle is asked to assist the investigation. When her own secret could solve the crimes however, she has to decide whether to reveal her unusual party trick.
The Diviners is the perfect mix of creepy and glitzy. While the scenes with Naughty John are filled with supernatural suspense, horror and grisly crimes, Evie is a fabulous narrator and takes everything in her stride. Evie is a love or hate character, but undoubtedly a woman ahead of her time. Forward-thinking and carefree, I couldn’t help but adore her and really rooted for her as a reader, even if at times I found her a little superficial.
Bray’s prose, as ever, is fantastic. Multiple narrators can be hard to balance, but every character and narrator, even those who only narrated for a chapter, felt well developed and three-dimensional. I really liked that Bray told the stories of the murder victims too and we would see how they were lured in and experience that sense of foreboding.
It did take me a little while to get used to the ’20s slang which Bray liberally uses in the Diviners, but this didn’t bother me once I was a few chapters in the book and had had a chance to get into the world of the book. I do think that the slang might alienate some readers however, but I think it’s worth persevering even if you’re not sure on the slant because Bray’s world and plotting is nothing short of fantastic. The supernatural world and real world intertwine beautifully and Bray creates a vibrant, detailed rendition of ’20s New York that feels very alive.
The supporting cast of characters was very well-written too and each had their own story to tell. The relationship between Theta and Henry was interesting and Mabel’s love for Jericho well explored. In particular, Sam, a pickpocket and thief with his own secrets, was great to read. I also really liked Jericho, who had a secret I just did not see coming at all and left me desperate for book two!
This is a bit of a tome of a book at almost 600 pages, but it is worth it. For me, the length didn’t feel like an issue and the book did not feel like it had been drawn out. I devoured this book and read it in a couple of days, hating each time I had to put it down to sleep or eat, or any of those pesky things.
I received a free review copy from Atom for my honest review. The Diviners is released today and I so, so recommend it to all Libba Bray fans and anyone who loves a creepy murder mystery in their YA. This is a book not to miss!