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.
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.