"Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on. Cuts your throat and takes your bones, sells 'em off for a coupla stones."
Actual Rating: 4.5 stars
My initial rating given to The Diviners was a full, glowing five stars, five stars being the knee-jerk rating I give to books I love. However, sometimes, when writing a review for the books I give five stars (or really any other rating), I realize that there were some certain things in the book I'm reviewing that would result in me taking away stars from my initial rating. Of course, there are some instances where I fully acknowledge the faults a book has, but give it five stars nonetheless, the most recent case being with Ultraviolet. But then, of course, there are some instances where, even if I love a book to bits, I fully acknowledge its faults and just can't give it the full five stars. This is the case with The Diviners.
As a disciplinary act, young and rebellious Evangeline - or, as she is more commonly called, Evie - O'Neill is sent from Ohio to New York City by order of her parents, to live with her uncle, Will Fitzgerald, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult - or, as that is more commonly called, The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies. However, unbeknownst to her parents, Evie is incredibly anxious to escape from the clutches of her parents and those in her hometown who judge her to the buzzing New York City, where people are bound to accept her rebellion and promiscuity. And maybe, while she's there, go to a speakeasy or three. But Evie also has a secret: a special ability that may just come in handy as she is thrown into the crazy world of The City That Never Sleeps, as well as a creepy and ritualistic string of murders.
Going into The Diviners, I wasn't entirely sure what I would get considering the murder mystery, only provided with the knowledge that the murderer ended up creeping out quite a few friends of mine. Me, however, being the 'nothing can scare me!' person that I proclaim myself to be, didn't expect much from the murderer, and was at least hoping to find an entertaining plot behind the murders and murderer that were clearly not going to scare me. Y'know, 'cause I'm tough like that.
I stand corrected.
I'm going to play the 'I didn't know it would be like that' excuse as the reason why the murderer creeped me out so much (because I need to save my image, don't I?), and then I'm going to pretend this never happened and go on with saying a fictional murderer never scared me. (I got'sta save my face, people!)
So, yeah. Watch out for Naughty John.
Now, if you're like me, and before even picking up The Diviners, you were intimidated by its daunting length (because, seriously people, this book is a weapon), then fear no more. Once you get past the first hundred or so pages, which is mostly exposition (but it's in no way boring to read or a slog to go through), you will find yourself turning pages faster than you'd think you could turn pages. The only reason it took me a whole week to finish The Diviners is because I've been extremely busy (explanation for my absence on Goodreads and my lack of content on the blog lately).
Another thing, aside from its length, that intimidated me about The Diviners was its multiple narratives. If you've read any of my reviews for books with multiple narratives, you'll know that they rarely work out for me in the end. I like to think it's because the author generally isn't skilled enough to write multiple narratives, while making the narratives distinguishable, and not just because I'm an overall 'impossible to please' reader (though this book is pretty much a testament to that being false, no?). Ultimately, my intimidation concerning the multiple narratives in The Diviners was to no avail, because the multiple narratives were expertly handled. I was able to easily distinguish the narratives from each other, and I can say that each narrative had its own little thing that made reading it never be a chore, unlike some other novels with multiple narratives. *eyes Defiance*
The characters in The Diviners, especially Evie, are incredibly well fleshed-out and are met with an immense amount of character development throughout the novel, and the relationships between Evie and her friends, and Evie and her love interest, were also expertly handled. And, while we're on the topic of Evie's relationship with her love interest, I just want to point out to all you young-adult writers out there: this is how you write a realistic relationship. I want the main relationship in The Diviners to be taken as an example for young adult authors everywhere. This relationship is well-developed, believable, and there is not an 'I love you' in sight.
However, through all of this gushing, there is a fault to be found in The Diviners that, unfortunately, was enough for me to lower my rating by half a star. That fault being that the last fifty pages (give or take) were so rushed, and that I really wished Bray would have taken her time with the conclusion. I mean, she wrote a nearly six-hundred page book, I think she'd be forgiven for writing a more thorough conclusion (one that doesn't leave me confused, maybe?). I realize that there are upcoming additions to come following The Diviners, but honestly, I think this could have easily been wrapped up in one book, while leaving readers satisfied, as opposed to stretching it out in a series, and leaving readers unsatisfied with the ending of this.
But, despite the rushed and confusing final fifty pages of The Diviners, I really did love the five-hundred or so pages prior, which, when putting into perspective, really is something, isn't it? I only hope that Bray is able to maintain the quality of The Diviners throughout the series, without going into overkill, because The Diviners was an incredibly fun, creepy, and thrilling read, and I'm eager to read more.
The creepy murderer, the brilliant plot and writing, the immense character development
Evie O'Neill is simply too big for her small Ohio town, so when her parents ship her off to New York to live with her uncle she doesn't put up much of a fight. Evie images that New York will be a fabulous place for her to really shine. Doesn't hurt that she already has a friend there, Mabel. She is pos-i-tute-ly thrilled to meet up with her old friend and do some shopping and hit light up the town. She doesn't even mind having to work a little in her uncle's Museum of American Folklore, Superstition and the Occult (The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies to the folks who have heard of it). Then the murders start happening. Evie's uncle is consulted and she thinks it might be swell to tag along, what she doesn't expect is to be drawn into this investigation so deep. Evie has secrets that may help, but she doesn't know who she can trust with them. She's not the only one with secrets though. Across town there's Memphis Campbell who has been living in the back room at his aunt's with his younger brother. Their father was supposed to find work and send for them, but as the years go by that seems less and less likely. The murder's don't rate high on his radar, until something horrible happens that hits close to home. Then things start to really pick up for Memphis. Meanwhile Evie and her uncle and the rest of their crew are on a hunt to find and/or stop the killer. The information they have just doesn't seem to add up right though. They don't have much time to figure it all out though.
I don't even know where to start with this book. I...am just still in shock with how fabulous it was. I love Libba Bray's other novels, but this one is just startlingly amazing. This may be my favorite read of 2012. The beginning few pages were a little rough, trying to get my hand into the 1920s slang, but once I got through the first chapter I never wanted to stop. It's a six hundred page book, but I just devoured it.
I loved that it was told from multiple perspectives. Sometimes it wasn't even people that we followed through this eerie tale. Each character and each story just fit together wonderfully. I really liked all the characters throughout this novel, even smarmy Sam Lloyd. Jericho was the cat's pajamas. He was such a sweet guy and I can totally see why Mabel was head over heels for him. Sam Lloyd was a liar and a cheat, but it seemed like deep down he wasn't too bad a guy. I do wish there was more from his perspective in the second half of the book. There isn't hardly anything from him after he starts working. Mabel was a bit naive but a good friend. Theta was a very interesting character with a hard life behind her and glory in her future (I hope). Her "brother" Henry was a great fella and I like how the two of them are together. Uncle Will is totally in his own world. There's a lot behind the scenes that he's aware of but he doesn't tell anyone else about. Memphis was a good kid just trying to get by and I loved getting to hear about his story while everything was going on.
Now on to the story. I didn't really know a ton about this novel going in. I knew it took place in the 1920s and that there was some supernatural aspect to it and that it was going to be a series. There is a super creepy element to it that I was not expecting. I feel like the character could have had creepier intentions, but the killer was still uber creepy. There were certain chapters you just can't end on if your reading this book before trying to go to sleep. There were chapters that were exciting and mysterious, or typical, and then there were the murder chapters. I could feel chills whenever one of them came up. And that house! Boy o' boy is that one sinister sounding house. So if you're going to read this (which you should) be prepared to not be able to sleep after certain chapters.
The setting of this book was fabulous. I have a very special place in my heart for the 1920s, so I knew this book would be up my alley. I just didn't know I'd want to go home with it. The 20s are just an exciting time filled with a inovation. I especially loved that it took place somewhere exciting like New York. If the whole book took place in Ohio, it probably wouldn't have been nearly half as exciting. New York and all it's bustling really helped set the tone for the novel.
Libba Bray tidied this book up nicely. There's a major story arc that will span the next books, but this book is done and I felt satisfied with the way everything ended. I am eagerly (read: desperately) waiting for the next installment, but this novel will stay with me for some time on its own. So make sure you pre-order this book or line up outside your local bookstore on the 18th, just make sure you get your hands on this AMAZING book! It's the bee's knees!
"In the town house at a fashionable address on Manhattan's Upper East Side, every lamp blazes."
"That night, she head strange sounds coming from inside the house, the most terrible bestial noises and whispers."
To put it simply, I loved the Diviner’s. It was quirky, elegant, and beautifully written with an amazing storyline. I liked the characters, and how each one came from different circumstances—they certainly weren’t cookie-cutter YA character. It wasn’t just the diverse cast that I liked it was also the story itself, and the setting that Bray chose. It all fit for me.
Like I said before, I loved the character, especially Jericho. His story was so sad, and I really didn’t expect it. And then there was Evie. She was different, and that trait usually got her into trouble. Overall I really like Diviners.
Do you believe there are ghosts and demons and Diviners among us?
I knew, from the minute I read the description, that this book was the one for me: flappers, diviners, ghosts, speakeasies, pickpockets, Broadway plays, jazz and gin... magic. Everything about The Diviners screams 'Perfection!': from the mysteriously magical cover; to the story; to the characters... need I go on? There's more to this book than the fun description, let me tell you that. It's eerily spooky, enchantingly magical, and pos-i-tute-ly fun-ski! It's filled with twists and turns on every page.
Nothing about the characters irritated me; in fact, they were all amazing in their own way: Evie, a seventeen-year-old flapper that doesn't listen to good, does what she wants and that's what got her on a train to live with her Uncle Will, curator of the Museum of the Creepy Crawlies (or so the city calls it), in New York City. What got her aboard this particular train that will change her life for ever is - how shall I put it - her ability to read any given object from another person. She could read their past and their deepest secrets. That's what Evie O'Neil does at a little party in Ohio whilst a little tipsy to a rich boy by the name of Harold Brodie.
Now in New York City, strange goings-on has been happening: mysterious murders and weird symbols. She has to find out what's happening and stop it. She was a very funny, witty, and strong-willed protagonist that I am sure you'll love. I've also grown to enjoy Theta, Memphis, and Sam with their strange abilities, as well.
There's only one tiny little thing that bothered me and that was the scriptures that were extracted from the Bible and twisted. Also (view spoiler). Otherwise, Libba Bray has done an amazing job at creating a world where monsters can enter all because of a Ouija Board.... This has got to be one of the best books I have ever read in 2012 and just period. A lot of people seemed to be complaining about the way the people in here were speaking, but I didn't see it as a problem. I guess it has to do with me being head-over-heels in love with the 1920s. I didn't feel that Ms Bray tried too hard with this era, I think she's done a p e r f e c t job in perfecting this story. The Diviners not only wants to me make dance to jazz, party in speakeasies, become a flapper, and fall in love, it made me afraid to walk about the house at night.
"Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on. Cuts your throat and takes your bones, sells 'em off for a coupla stones."
Naughty John was awakened and now he's back to fulfil his mission on releasing the Beast and take over the world. My heart literally raced whenever we were brought to Naughty John and his sacrifices. The details were vivid (I love the show-don't-tell) and spooky. If you love horror and want to read anything scary during the night; The Diviners is right here waiting for you. Please do not be discouraged by the number of pages because, I promise, it goes by swiftly. To be honest, I didn't see this as a heavy read at all, I wish it were longer.
I hope you enjoy this just as much as I have.
Set in the 1920s (the Jazz Age with Flappers!)
The fact that Ms Bray added a Paranormal twist to this historical fiction piece.
I have so many things to say about this novel. Okay. Let’s take a deep breath.
First. For the longest time, I didn’t think I would be able to get into this novel. It is like a sprawling southern estate, queenly manor, expansive gardens, it spans ages and miles and miles. It’s vibrant, lush and almost overwhelming. Dizzying and exhilarating. This is the first novel in the trilogy so it spends a lot of time setting up the…er, setting, the characters and the locations in which the novel takes place. It is also one of those novels that does not follow just one character but a group of main characters. While Evie is the main character of this novel, she is not the only important character. I would not be surprised if the next one in the trilogy follows around Theta or someone else. The first few pages of The Diviners can seem overwhelming because of the descriptions and the writing style but I promise that once that settles down and the narrative finds a rhythm, you will be able to go with it.
I love Libba Bray’s writing. I have the greatest faith that she will deliver and she does deliver. Evie is perhaps one of the most unique protagonists I have had the pleasure of reading. She does not just sound like a flapper, she talks and walks and looks like one. You do not get the feeling that Bray is writing from the 21st century about a flapper but it is as though Bray is observing a living breathing Evie and writing down her observations. The slang is awesome. I just might start using it in my everyday language. Of course, no one will understand but no one understands me anyway. There is this exuberance about the Evie, she is irrepressible and irreverent – in the best ways possible.
Then there are the many other characters. If you followed my reading updates, you will have heard me mention Theta and Memphis but there are also Jericho, Mabel, Sam and many others. Every character is created with care and every character is imbued with personality. They spring up as real people who could dance out of your head and onto the streets, fully formed. The dynamics between the characters is not stilted or awkward but is genuine and realistic. The novel twists and turns and surprises you with the interactions between people you would not have thought would interact. Also, Bray’s villain is one of the creepiest and scariest villains out there. I seriously had to pause, take a deep breath before reading his parts because he scared the crap out of me. I’m not even exaggerating.
The breadth of the novel is immense but it delivered. The plot is convincing as is the denouement of it. The romance is uncertain and I liked it that way because it fit Evie’s character. I also liked how Bray coheres a sisterhood between the girls. There are no mean girls in this novel and I should think that that by itself would be a huge recommendation. The novel ends with the sense that this was only the first showing of a battle before the real war is actually fought. It ends with a tense expectation, like, if you have ever tasted the air before a hurricane, pregnant with anticipation, a false calm, that is how I felt at the end of The Diviners. I really cannot wait until the next one comes out. Do I recommend this? Most certainly.
I absolutely loved this one. It had so many elements that I enjoy all wrapped up into one *humongous* book. It had mystery, suspense and awesome characters along with many more. This book was intimidating by the sheer size alone but I am so glad that I finally decided just to read it even if it ended up taking a while. It was so engaging however, that it only took me about a week to get through 578 pages.
I love books set in the 1920's. It's one of my favorite time periods to read about especially when it's set in New York and features speak-easies. There's just something that is so fun about the time and when a crazy killer is thrown into the mix then it just becomes even better.
I really liked Evie. She was so sassy and she did what she wanted to without worrying about the consequences. That being said she was still rather intelligent and she knew how to have fun. I was really hoping that she would get together with Jericho, but there is always the sequel to see where things will go between those two. Speaking of Jericho, I did not see that revelation about him coming. I would never have guessed that was what was up with him, I honestly thought he was a diviner.
I found myself alternating between hoping that Naughty John would make another appearance and praying that he wouldn't. He was a really cool character but he honestly really creeped me out. That whole rhyme that goes with his name? Had me freaked out at night and yet I couldn't stop saying it to myself.
If you're a fan of ghost stories as well as the glitz and glamor of the roaring 20's then I definitely recommend this one. Libba Bray definitely knows how to mix the two and keep it true to the time period while adding the elements that make this novel exciting and downright creepy at times. I cannot wait to see where this series goes next!
Background: Mysterious things are happening in New York City, and luckily Evie O'Neill has been sent there to live with her professor, uncle Will. Little does she know that a case involving the occult, murder, and spirits will engulf her life as she comes to realize that not everything is as it seems. Libba Bray tells the spooky tale of random people on the city and how they become involved in the lives or one another.
Review: this was a LONG book! I got the chance to review an audio copy of The Diviners and was super excited to get started listening, sadly it has taken forever to get through, and I am not sure why. The reader is awesome and does very distinctive male and female voices for each of the characters- which also helped me to keep track of them all- there were quite a few. Of all the characters I had the hardest time coming to like Evie, the main character, she tends to be rude and stuck up and she was very self centered most of the story. I enjoyed uncle Will the quirky professor of the strange and unusual and think that would be an awesome profession. The others characters were also easy to follow but the story for q good portion seemed so fragmented by the multiple stories and how they didn't really overlap. In the end, it starts to make a little more sense, but like I mentioned it did take a good chunk of time to get through it all.
The plot was super spooky and eerie, there were a few moments that I had to switch it off because I was alone driving in the dark, granted I am a huge chicken, but still creepy. The author does an awesome job with details throughout, you will not believe the beautiful picture she portrays of the roaring 20's in NYC. I was listening while also in the evenings watching Boardwalk Empire and it all kind of painted a cool picture in my head of the types of people and parties during the period.
Without giving too much away, I have to say that the bad guy was appealingly grotesque in all the right ways.
If you haven't picked this up yet, please do as soon as you can
The Diviners is outstanding book. Libba Bray did a beautifully job in portal us to the 1920s. The writing is so vivd that I felt I was dancing to up beat Jazz music with flappers. I will admit there are some dry spots, but it's really enjoyable that you forget because other things are happening.
My favorite character is Sam Lloyd. I love him! I'm still rooting for Evie and Sam. I'll like for them to get up together. Theta is also great, and you respect her more after you find out about her back story. She's not just a sassy chorus girl, but a strong and independent women.
I heard it's going to be a saga, and I'm so excited for the next book in this promising series.
"Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on. Cuts your throat and takes your bones, sells them off for a couple of stones."
Evangeline O'Neill, AKA Evie, is a seventeen year old, rebellious troublemaker. Who is sent away from her home in Ohio to New York, because of a stunt she pulled at a party. She is sent to live with her uncle Will, curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, which is more commonly known as the Museum of Creepy Crawlies. For a bit, everything seems perfect. But then there are mysterious murders in the city, and she has to struggle to keep her own special ability secret.
This is a pretty scary book, and I think that this book would have probably gotten a lower rating if it hadn't been. With the whole whistling thing, and Naughty John comes and kills you and then takes your eyes/tongue/arms/legs? Yeeeahh.... Watch out.
Now, I know this book's length looks intimidating. It took me a while to fully get into it, maybe 100 pages, but after that slow part, this book is really entertaining.
I had a few problems with this book, the biggest and foremost being Evie. Ugh, she just BUGGED me so much. At first I thought she was shallow and selfish, and guess what? At the end, she STILL seemed shallow and selfish. I mean, seriously. You have a clairvoyant ability. You don't just go blurting it to the first people you meet just because you want attention, or want to stay in the spotlight. evie was blurting ALL her secrets just to stay under the spotlight, and that really grated on my nerves. Then at the end, I was thinking "Well, that's good, she's probably learned her lesson about blurting to the reporters, and guess what? She's STILL blurting all her secrets to stay in the spotlight. She's just never anything more to me than a 1920's shallow stereotypes spouting annoying phrases.
There were also too many pointless side characters. Let me name a few. Sam Lloyd, whose only job was to hint at what will come,Blind John, whose job was the same, Memphis, whose job was the same, Isaiah, whose job was the same, Theta, who did the same, Henry, who, surprise, surprise, did the same, and Mabel, who just seemed pretty useless in general, except maybe to provide more drama in the whole romance part.
So, when we have all these side characters, each with their own side plot which pretty much has nothing to do with the story at all, reading their parts starts to feel like a chore.
Now that you know about all the parts that made me feel really annoyed, you may be asking, "Well, where's the good stuff?" Here it is. Some of the scenes were really good, (mostly the murder scenes and the parts where there was actually running around). The way Bray writes makes some of the scenes so spooky and awesome, and it's really sad when the shallow characters kind of ruin that feel for me.
It was hard to rate this book because some parts were really good, and other parts were just... meh.
This book is, well…it’s different. Different in many, many good ways, but different in some bad ways as well. Libba Bray, as I well know from my experience with A Great and Terrible Beauty and its sequels, is a wonderful writer who can truly create a haunting, gothic atmosphere in her stories; The Diviners did not disappoint me in regards to quality of prose and creepy factor. Characters, additionally, were well-drawn. Most of my complaints arise from the way Bray chose to wrap up her story, and, unfortunately, that conclusion will leave an aftertaste that lingers long beyond the wonderful aspects that made up the majority of the book. It’s a shame how that tends to happen, really.
At its core, The Diviners is a paranormal mystery novel. There’s a ghost murdering people as part of a ritual meant to create the Antichrist. The large cast of characters is, in various ways, attempting to stop this ghostly murderer before the world goes to hell—literally. I like this story; I like it a lot. Bray’s attention to detail was flawless, the bastardized Biblical elements were creepy and worked wonderfully in the text, and the path to unraveling the secrets surrounding the ghost was incorporated very well.
Alongside the mystery, the novel’s historical setting was done well. The glamour and frenzy of New York in 1926 was presented with depth, and genuine attention to detail. I’ve long admired Libba Bray’s ability to write historical fiction with a paranormal twist, and I think she handled it just as well in The Diviners as she did in her Gemma Doyle trilogy.
Obviously, this book is a long one, and perhaps unjustifiably so. When I complain that a book is too long, it’s usually because I feel like the author is dragging things out, adding unnecessary side-trips, or just meandering in general. I don’t think that’s the case with this book. Rather, the main reason The Diviners is so long is because there are so many main characters Bray was juggling. There were at least 10 “main” characters, and then probably 10 more secondary characters we got to experience once or twice as the narrative unfolded. Technically speaking, this book is narrated in third person omniscient, but in my opinion it wasn’t done well, and was sloppy in places (omniscient perspective, I’ve found, is rarely done well). Anyway. In my opinion, while the different characters were interesting and for the most part well-rounded, the story itself would have benefitted better if Bray had stuck to one or two POV characters, thus tightening up the mystery, adding to the suspense, and lessening the list of people the reader needs to keep track of. All in my unprofessional opinion.
What really upset me about this, however, was the plot’s conclusion and the lead-in to the sequel. Basically, the ghost gets caught and eliminated. Problem solved. With about thirty pages left, I couldn’t see how there was going to be a second installment—there was no lingering conflict or investment in the story, as the characters were all in a good place. So then Bray throws in this mysterious “thing” that’s supposed to intrigue the reader into buying book 2. It was rushed, it was hurried, and it felt completely out of place. Unless this series is going to become an episodic paranormal mystery type-deal (like Nancy Drew with spirits), I don’t think this was a good move. At all. Structurally speaking, it was just a mess. Either the mystery in The Diviners could have been refitted to arch across several novels, or there should have been no sequel (the book is long enough, and with a few tweaks it could work quite well as a standalone). I was not at all a fan of Bray’s rushed hook into the next book. It felt very weak and was poorly developed.
Oh, and cyborgs. What was that all about, huh? Please explain how cyborgs fit in with the rest of it? Very displeased with that little sideplot.
So. The unfortunate fact of it all is that when an ending disappoints you, it tends to sour the entire reading experience, even if the majority of the book was excellent. That’s pretty much the case here. I liked The Diviners a lot, and was really impressed with the story, the characters, and Bray’s atmospheric prose. The questionable plot construction made me really unhappy, however. In the end, I definitely recommend this book, and I’ll probably stick around for book 2 (even though I have no idea what kind of storyline it can have aside from “ooh, we’re a bunch of teenagers with psychic abilities and also: cyborgs!”).