Libba, old girl, you are the cat’s meow.
I was extremely fortunate to get my hands on a copy of Libba Bray’s upcoming release when Ash and I went to BEA earlier this month. I started reading it on the bus home, and have been hooked ever since.
The Story: It’s 1926, and Evie O’Neill has been sent to New York City to live with her Uncle Will as punishment for some poor behavior in her sleepy Ohio hometown. Banished to the bright lights, speakeasies, and revue shows in the greatest city in the world. Punishment? Pshaw! For Evie, this “punishment” is the most wonderful thing to ever happen. At least until the dead bodies start appearing. The police enlist the help of Uncle Will, curator of the “Museum of Creepy Crawlies” (officially known as The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult), to assist in the investigation. Evie finds she can also help using a special -and very secret- gift: she can “read” objects just by holding them and conjure up images of the owner’s life. Evie, Uncle Will, Jericho (her uncle’s assistant), and Sam (a con artist working at the museum) just might be able to figure this thing out… as long as the murderer, known as Naughty John, doesn’t set his sights on them first.
The Low Down: Well. Where to begin. If you’ve ever read any of Libba Bray’s books before, you know she’s a very versatile writer (see: A Great and Terrible Beauty, Going Bovine, and Beauty Queens), not to mention an incredibly strong writer with a gift for amazing storytelling. The Diviners is what you would get if someone injected Stephen King into Chicago, shook it up, and let it percolate. Bray’s imagining of life in the 1920’s makes me feel like I took a time machine back to the Jazz Age, and the supernatural elements are outstanding and insanely creepy. The story is well structured and has a satisfying conclusion, despite leaving some of the storyline and character relationships open ended to ensure there will be a sequel.
Speaking of characters, Evie is a very strong female lead. She’s a flapper through and through, and lives for the high life and the night life. She can be a little haughty, and her bossiness sometimes rubbed me the wrong way, but that made her character that much more realistic. She’s not without her faults, but is determined to live the life she wants. Also starring in The Diviners are Evie’s old friend and pen pal, Mabel, and Theta, an up and coming starlet who’s hiding a major secret of her own along with her “brother” Henry (who is a current nominee for my Fictional Boyfriend List). Theta also makes the acquaintance of Memphis, who has a special gift of his own along with his little brother, Isaiah.
The Bottom Line: The Diviners is filled with a large cast of well rounded characters in a rich setting, not to mention a heaping dose of bootleg liquor and supernatural horror. It may be a bit lengthy, but it’s also completely addicting. Capping out at a little over 600 pages, the fast-moving suspense and characters’ witty, sharp tongues will keep you eagerly soaking up page after page. But be warned… the sound of someone whistling will never be the same.
OFFICIAL RATING: 8.5/10
The Diviners will be released on September 18, 2012. It is reported to be the first in a trilogy, AND Paramount Pictures has already acquired film rights.
AND LOOK! EVEN MORE GOODIES!
If you think you’ll like The Diviners, you’ll probably also like:
Bliss by Lauren Myracle (A girl in the 1960’s befriends a classmate who may or may not be involved in cult-like violence similar to the Charles Manson murders that are all over the news. It’ll definitely leave you feeling creeped out.)
If you love the Roaring Twenties, you may like:
Vixen (The Flappers series) by Jillian Larkin
If you’re a historical fiction fan, try:
A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle trilogy) also by Libba Bray (1800’s)
The Luxe (Luxe series) by Anna Godbersen (turn of the 20th century)
Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher (1940’s)
What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell (1950’s)
Strings Attached by Judy Blundell (1950’s)