Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Name:  The Diviners
Libba Bray
Number of Pages:
 578 (Paperback)
3rd December 2013 by Little, Brown
Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal


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-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.
When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.      – from Goodreads

My Rating:


My Thoughts: 

This book is pos-i-tute-ly the cats pajamas, so grab a cocktail and take in the chin music about why it’s such a great read. This 20s lingo is catching, but for those who want to know what on earth I’m talking about – this book is brilliant, so listen to me gossip about all the highlights and then go and read it!

I unreservedly, completely loved The Diviners.
I’m fascinated by the 1920s – the flappers, their fashions, the dancing (gotta love the Charleston), the prohibition scene, the music, speakeasies and good-time girls – so anything featuring this era has a draw for me straight away.
Right from the hauntingly-written prologue – where so many areas and ages are conjured vividly into life in a matter of pages, it’s clear we’re in for a delightfully dark, eerie treat of a read.
With the combination of the 1920s, a variety of characters with supernatural abilities and a serial killer with his mind set on returning from the dead, I have to confess I was utterly hooked.
Nothing could tear me away from this book!

I’ve never read anything by Libba Bray before, but her writing is wonderful and rich, as shown by the very first pages of the book. I will certainly seek out other books she has written when I’ve finished The Diviners, and I am so pleased there is going to be another Diviners book, Lair of Dreams, which is due for publication in 2015. Definitely one I will be looking out for eagerly.

The Diviners creates an atmospheric and immersive world and a contrast of light and darkness. Evie and her new friends go to speakeasies and parties in pursuit of a good time, the results of which are sometimes more exciting than they probably anticipated (a raid by the police and a daring escape, anyone?). They are young and free. What a contrast this scene is to the Museum of the Creepy Crawlies – Evie’s home from home during her stay in New York with her uncle, and a location I really loved – or Knowles End, an old long-abandoned mansion house with a colourful history which could certainly be the creepiest haunted house I’ve read about in a long time. Old, abandoned places, and areas you shouldn’t walk alone at night are bought to life perfectly as the hunting ground for a determined killer.

The Diviners features a large cast of characters, each hiding secrets of their true selves – some seem to have supernatural powers, all have intriguing stories. Hearlers, seers, shared dreams which hint at darkness to come (which reminded me a little of The Stand by Stephen King), and the eerie power to witness the actions of a ghostly serial killer bent on returning to life as the Beast under Solomon’s comet all contribute to this being a brilliant read. There are many mysteries to be unravelled.

I can’t write this review without giving a special mention to our heroine, Evie O’Neill, because I loved her. At the beginning she is a typical young girl out seeking the good times. Carried along by her own enthusiasm and desire to be centre of attention she sometimes unintentionally manages to mess up, which is how she finds herself shipped off to New York to stay with her uncle in the first place.
Evie’s new life in New York involves new friends, hi-jinks and misguided but mostly innocent trouble (speakeasies do get raided sometimes, and escape is necessary), but ultimately, when the real danger becomes apparent Evie is brave and determined, steadfast in the face of great horrors and murder. She goes to great lengths to stop the killer, and does not shy away from revealing her power, despite this potentially being risky for her. Evie is a girl with a good heart; she is a very real character, with sadness beneath the surface and a desire to be loved and accepted. I can’t wait to see how her story develops in the next book.

Memphis, Theta and Jericho are all brilliant characters, and all have stories of their own, which are left tantalizingly open at the end of this novel. I am looking forward to finding out more about all of these characters in Lair of Dreams. It will be interesting to see their relationships with each other develop further, because at the point this novel ends there are at least two couples I want to read more about. I’m also looking forward to more revelations about their various powers and how this group of special people will unite against further evil.

The villain of the piece, Naughty John is suitably menacing, both in life and in after-life, as we witness his evil deeds in the olden days and in the current time as he hopes to complete a series of ritualistic murders and return to life. He’s a fearsome adversary, and his signature tune – Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on, is likely to remain in your thoughts long after the book is complete. There are some wonderfully creepy scenes in which he plots his return to life, and the tension mounts as the inevitable final confrontation draws near. It’s exciting stuff and I could write so much more about it, but to do so would be to spoil the adventure, and I wouldn’t want to do that.

As I’ve already mentioned, there is going to be another book featuring the Diviners, so it’s no secret or spoiler to say that everything isn’t neatly wrapped up during the conclusion of the book. In fact, I love the stirrings of future villainy to come for Evie and her friends.
I can’t wait to find out more about the mysterious man who haunts dreams and visions, always in the shadows, waiting with ominous intent. I think he will be a force to be reckoned with, but I’m sure the Diviners will rise to the challenge.

I had high hopes for this 20s paranormal/fantasy themed book and it was everything I hoped it would be and more and I eagerly await Lair of Dreams.


19 thoughts on “Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

  1. Kaja says:

    What a nice review! I am adding this to my tbr right now 🙂 I love reading enthusiastic reviews, I always wish I loved more books so I could gush about them.


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