I picked up this book once I saw Libba Bray’s name on the cover. I really enjoyed her book Beauty Queens and found it to be a hilarious read. When I found out that this book was set in the 1920’s with an other-worldly and spiritual plot I was shocked because of the stark difference between it and Beauty Queens. However this author has blown me away with her writing in this book and the complexity of the plot. It was a fantastic read with twists, turns, intriguing characters and a blast back into prohibition New York.
Evie O’Neill is a young, mischievous girl who is sent to New York to live with her uncle after revealing a bit too much of her secret ability. Her Uncle Will lives at The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition and the Occult, a dwindling business affectionately known as the museum of ‘Creepy Crawlies’. It’s 1926 and with speakeasy’s and Ziegfeld girls the city is filled with character. It is in this organised chaos that Evie’s Uncle Will is asked to help in a murder investigation and Evie realises her power might help find who is behind a series of murders.
The setting for this book added something special to the overall plot, New York City in itself is an exciting place but in the middle of prohibition with dancing, drinking, racial conflicts and to top it off with spiritualism, this book really did have it all. With the backdrop of the city the main plotline fell into place with an array of characters and personalities of all sizes. From nosey journalists and flapper girls to mob bosses and raids the plot was fast paced and easy to follow.
The characters in the book were very different and I loved how Libba Bray brought together a range of different personalities. Evie O’Neill is a very strong and loud personality for a teenage girl but she knows what she wants and won’t stop until she gets it, a strong contrast to her New York best friend Mabel. Despite having a main character in the plot, the reader learns about each character and their traits no matter how small or how big a role they played. In particular I loved the background romance of Theta and Memphis and how they sparked a question of interracial relationships in 1920s. Despite being focused on murders and spiritualism, Libba Bray left time to explore the characters and other key elements of the time period.
Just a few spoiler-less words on the murderer in this novel…WOW. Libba Bray extends past all normalcies with this one adding mystery and twist after twist. I have to say though this book really freaked me out, I could only read it during the day because of the slight edge in the paranormal and the sheer terrifying murderer lurking it’s pages. I would definitely recommend this book at Halloween, it has all the right elements.
I was a little surprised that this book was part of a series because I felt it was brilliant as a standalone and now I am a little worried that there is more to it. I want to read more about the characters, the roaring 20’s and unruly spiritual world but I’m worried it could get dragged out. Despite this if given the chance I will no doubt pick up the rest of the books in this series and see which direction it takes, either way The Diviners deserves a 4 out of 5 on goodreads from me.