Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Evie O'Neill has gotten herself in trouble again for using her power to "read" a person's deepest, darkest secrets simply by holding an object of their.  Now, Evie is being shipped off to her uncle's until the resulting hoopla dies down.  Only problem is that Uncle Will lives in New York City, is the curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, affectionately known as The Museum of Creepy Crawlies by New Yorkers, and it is the roaring 1920s.  Punishment?  Not for Evie O'Neill.

And no sooner does Evie arrive in New York, and she and her power to read objects are unofficially caught up in the investigation of some very strange, occultish murders after the police appeal to Uncle Will for help.

The Diviners is a big book - almost 600 pages.  And it is the first book in a series, which means it suffers from what I think of as intro-itis.  It must introduce the reader to a large cast of characters, those who will be recurring and those who are probably only in this one novel, like the villain Naughty John (though, of course, you never know...).  Naturally, most of the recurring characters, and they are a disparate group, all share the same secret as Evie - they too are diviners, though each person's power has a different manifestation.  There are some characters, like Mabel, Evie's best friend, and Uncle Will who may also have powers, but by the end of this book, we still haven't heard about them yet.

But Evie is the center of attention, an energetic teen who like to dress up and party at New York's best speakeasies (punishment?), and who really likes her hooch.  She is a girl of her time, a flapper right down to her headache band, not a bad girl, just a fun-loving one.

As Evie and Uncle Will get caught up in solving the mystery of who is killing people all over the city, a picture of a very creepy murderer begins to emerge.  Creepy not just because he kills, but also how and why he does it.  This is all made even more disturbing by the supernatural element surrounding him and by the song he chants when he is about to strike:

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.

On the negative side: my one big question is what parent sends their savvy, fun-loving teenage daughter to New York City to keep her out of trouble?  I know she had to get there, but really...?  OK, that aside, The Diviners is a great book with flaws.  For one thing, the copy I read, and in all fairness, it was an ARC, had so many typos that it was distracting.  For another thing, the whole book needed some serious editing desperately.

On the positive side: The Diviners is definitely the bee's knees.  I could hardly put it down and when I did, I couldn't wait to get back to it.  Bray has created a wonderfully suspenseful historical novel that really has the feel of the 1920s in New York City.  I loved the idea of a museum like the one Uncle Will had.  I only wish there really was such a place.  I have a Funky Museums board on Pinterest and would love to have been able to include The Museum of Creepy Crawlies.  I would have also liked it to have a more major role in the plot, but maybe Bray is saving that for a future book.

The Diviners is a definite read if you like good paranormal fiction, with an abolively, positutely wonderful cast of characters.  I can't wait for the next Evie O'Neill book.

This book is recommended for readers 12+
This book was an ARC received from the publisher 

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