The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)
by Libba Bray
Published on September 18, 2012
by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Supernatural, Young Adult
Also by this author: The Diviners, Lair of Dreams (The Diviners, #2), Before the Devil Breaks You (The Diviners, #3), The King of Crows (The Diviners, #4)
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.
I’ve been gushing about this book for months but I never reviewed it here, so let’s fix that.
I had no interest in reading The Diviners series. Then my YA book club chose this for our February title. Cut to me wondering why I never wanted to read this. It is 100% up my alley: steeped in incredible historical detail, a wonderful cast of characters, and featuring one of the most terrifying villains I have ever come across. This book also gets the esteemed honor of featuring a love triangle I actually like. What is going on? Why didn’t I want to read this book?
The book is a true gem of world building. Taking place in New York City during the Roaring ’20s, it captures everything of the times. We hear the music of the nightclubs. We hear the lingo in conversation. We walk through the streets of Harlem and the Upper East Side. That’s the best thing about The Diviners: this book teems with life.
The characters are all unique. Evie is the (mostly) main character. She’s confident and unapologetic. She’s ambitious. She’s selfish and arrogant, and also gifted with the power to “see things”. This girl is not the typical character who is obviously beautiful but does not believe it (she knows she is), or the heroine who doesn’t believe she’s special but for some reason everyone loves her (because they do, obviously) that we’re used to seeing in YA. It’s so rare to see a character in YA who is so unabashedly herself and proud of it. I love her for it. She does remain selfish, dramatic, and unapologetic, she does have a lot of character growth as the story goes on.
And there is a lot going on! Forces are gathering from all sides as the supernatural seeps into the streets. Something is approaching. It comes on a whisper from a loved one in a dream. It comes from the people you talk to. Evie and others with abilities like hers are slowly, intricately being pulled into a plot that threatens everyone. The force seems unstoppable. It is getting stronger. Honestly, this entity is going to haunt my subconscious for a long time. The danger it represents is real for everyone, and you feel it.