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.
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.
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."
"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