Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Review: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 18th, 2012
Genre: YA, Paranormal Fantasy
Evie O’Neil has always known that she is just too much for Zenith Ohio, and that couldn’t be clearer than when she has to leave her small town in a hurry after offending a powerful family. But Evie’s punishment could not suit her better: she gets to stay with her Uncle in New York City. The year is 1926 and Evie is a true modern girl, with her bobbed hair and bad drinking habits, prohibition be damned. Helping her uncle at his museum near Central Park, The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition and the Occult, Evie can’t help but be drawn to some of her Uncle’s interests, such as the belief in people with special abilities. For a long time, Evie has been able to read objects to learn personal things about the people they belong to. So far, this has just been good for party tricks (and for getting Evie in trouble) but when a young girl is brutally murdered and found in the Hudson River, Evie’s ability might prove to be useful. The murderer has used symbols from the occult, but nothing quite makes sense. As Evie immerses herself in the case while taking advantage of New York City, this quick talking, fun-having girl finds herself enwrapped in ghost story and a mystery.
I first read Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty nearly nine years ago, and fell deeply in love with it, and the following books in the series. It was for that reason that I picked up The Diviners by Libba Bray, although the fact that it is a supernatural tale set in prohibition New York also caught my attention. Evie is a modern girl: a flapper who likes to party. Full of wit and hidden depth, she’s a great lead character. The narrative also looks into the perspective of many other characters throughout the story, and all of these characters felt full fleshed and convincing. Evie leaves her small town for the most happening place in the world, New York City. There she intends to make full use of the glamour and glitz of city life, but her special ability and connections manage to get her involved with solving a mystery. This book is a bit of a brick, at nearly 600 pages. For the most part it was quick moving and the bulk didn’t make it drag along or feel long. It was well written and clearly thoroughly researched, full of excitement and suspense even though the reader knows who the murderer is from the start. In a world full of people with unexplainable abilities, the world building in The Diviners was one of its strongest points. The characters and the setting also added so much to the novel. I do wish that this was a stand alone novel, because at this point I don’t really see the point of a series, unlike with The Name of the Star. I also thought that the story ended abruptly and that the end was not as strong as the rest of the book. This book is perfect for Halloween, since it was creepy enough to have me hearing every little noise in my house and feeling anxious. While, for me, nothing can compare to the Gemma Doyle books, The Diviners was a promising start to the series, set in a fascinating time period in a city where anything can happen.
“She knew what it was to wait for someone who would never come home. She knew that grief, like a scar, faded but never really went away.”