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The Diviners Paperback – December 3, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-Set in 1920s New York City, this literary tour-de-force from Printz Award-winner Bray offers grand themes, complex characters, and suspense. After her secret gift for divining information from objects lands her in trouble, 17-year-old Evangeline O'Neill is sent from Ohio to live with her uncle, who runs a museum specializing in folklore and the occult in Manhattan. Evie is a quintessential flapper: not really bad, but rebellious and yearning to fly free of her Babbitt-like existence. Although she starts out her new life like the party girl she was back home, her pursuits become more serious when her uncle is asked to help solve a series of strange murders. She crosses paths with Memphis Campbell, a black numbers runner in Harlem, whose power to heal by laying on hands failed him when he tried to save his mother. Other characters include a homosexual composer who meets people in dreams, a Ziegfeld girl with a past, a pickpocket searching for his family, and a young research assistant with his own secrets. Bray develops each of these characters and their gifts, gradually bringing them together in a chilling and thrilling battle with Naughty John, a paranormal serial killer. Over the course of the novel, people (mainly good) smoke, drink, and use other illegal substances. These peccadilloes are contrasted with the values of the hellfire-and-brimstone cult that spawned Naughty John. The compelling and dramatic supernatural plot explores self-actualization, predestination, the secrets everyone hides, and, of course, good versus evil. An absolutely terrific read and, thankfully, the first in a planned series.-Nina Sachs, Walker Memorial Library, Westbrook, MEα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A Publishers Weekly Best YA Book of the Year
* "1920s New York thrums with giddy life in this gripping first in a new [series] from Printz winner Bray...The intricate plot and magnificently imagined details of character, dialogue and setting take hold and don't let go. Not to be missed."―Kirkus (starred review)
* "The compelling and dramatic supernatural plot explores self-actualization, predestination, the secrets everyone hides, and, of course, good versus evil. An absolutely terrific read and, thankfully, the first in a planned series."―School Library Journal (starred review)
* "The book is big and wants to be the kind of thing you can lose yourself in. Does it succeed? It's jake, baby."―Booklist (starred review)
*Everyday moments and a romance or two help lighten the mood of this creepy, dark, twisted tale of things that go bump in the night."―VOYA (starred review)
* "The book is engrossing, spooky, and thought-provoking."―Library Media Connection (starred review)
" [A] lavish supernatural thriller...Wisecracking Evie is a likable heroine, and all signs point to intriguing complications and more malevolent spirits on the rise in succeeding books."―The Horn Book
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After her parlor tricks got her in trouble back home, Evie O'Neill was sent to live with her uncle Will in NYC. Taking it as the beginning of her rise to fame and fabulousness, Evie is excited for the move to the big and beautiful city. What she didn't realize was that Uncle Will's Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult was the laughing stock of the city and dubbed the Museum of "Creepy Crawlies". But never one to give up or fail to spin things her way, Evie isn't disappointed by the Creepy Crawlies- she is going to take NYC by storm.
When a serial killer begins leaving mutilated bodies around the city, Uncle Will is consulted by the local police. Evie, the ever-thinking young woman that she is, knows how to spin this to save the museum and rocket herself into the spotlight. When she begins to give exclusive interviews to a reporter, she makes sure he mentions the museum, and of course, photographs her on her good side. But the Pentacle Killer has escalated and there are no clues as to who he might be, only more and more carnage left in his wake. The truth of the killer might be too "out there" to believe, but Evie and the rest of the Creepy Crawly crew aren't afraid of the unexplainable... they live to explain it!
I don't really think my description of this book does it justice. In fact, I think it makes the book seem a lot lighter than it truly is, so please know this is a very, very creepy period piece. The murders are really gruesome, and I don't want to give anything away, because the book is best enjoyed with an element of surprise, but you will certainly be creeped out when they get to the bottom of the pentacle killer. I think this book might appeal to both horror fans and historical fiction fans, but it is quite long and might discourage a struggling reader. Despite it's size, it reads like a 200 page novel- you will blow right through it. So if you know a reader who needs a spunky heroine and a creepy story, you should think about the Diviners.
One thing I think might divide readers is the main character, Evie. She is bold, brash at times, self-serving, and headstrong. She acts without thinking, which puts her and her friends in danger over and over again. I can see how this might be totally grating for some readers. And yes, she can be impetuous and annoying, but there is also something charming and funny about how she acts before she thinks. I think if you go into her character thinking she is obnoxious, the book is going to be tough to get through, but if you see her as a willful young woman, you will enjoy her more. The supporting characters in this book are really fun and will make the story even more dynamic than the story with just Evie.
But this setting is also something to pique your interest. The language, slang, and jargon can be novel at first, but it helps you to feel like you have been submersed int he time period along with the characters. For many students who live in their bubbles without much thought to times long past, I love a fun period piece that takes a historical time and combines it with an exciting story. And this book has it in spades!
The first thing that hooked me was the voice. And I mean this in two senses. There is the narration by January LaVoy. It's so well done! She paces things perfectly and pitches her voice to add to the tension and drama of the story. LaVoy also differentiates voices for the characters in a way that is clear and not cheesy. But I meant more than this literal voice. I am talking about the word choice, the flow, the little things that make up each character like their speech patterns. It was just so incredible.
From page one it is clear that Libba Bray did her research. She employs so much detail in everything that you get a vivid picture of 1920s New York. From slang and "pop"culture to geography and historical facts... the reader is immersed in the time period. I was amazed at how this was all worked in without being dry or having scenes of overwhelming descriptions. It was just so authentic.
Another aspect I loved was the different story lines. The book summary focuses on Evie O'Neill but The Diviners really has an ensemble cast. We get to see what's happening from Memphis, Theta, Sam, Mabel and more. And not just how it relates to the "main" plot. We learn more about their lives, where they're from, and how they see the world. I felt so invested in each of their lives. I was also interested in seeing how all of their own stories were going to intersect with one another.
Finally, I have to mention the delightfully creepy aspect... Naughty John. Oh gosh. Do I really have to mention it?!? I'd like to be able to sleep tonight and thinking about this part of the book is spine chilling. There is this little sing song rhyme that is associated with the dark and dangerous Naughty John. "Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on. Cuts your throat and takes your bones. Sell 'em off for a coupla stones." This is creepy enough on its own but remember, I listened to the audiobook. January LaVoy actually sings this little ditty and it has been stuck in my head on repeat. It makes me shiver. Every. Time. Basically Libba knows how to bring the terrifying. I don't want to give more examples because you need to discover them on your own!
I was thrilled with the way The Diviners ended. There is closure with Naughty John's story (Thank goodness... or I really would not be able to sleep!) yet so many bigger questions are asked. All the character's stories begin to intertwine more.I cannot wait to see where we go from here.
The Diviners is a wonderfully authentic and creeptastic read. Libba Bray has crafted an intricate and fascinating paranormal world that parallels our own. I highly recommend reading this book as soon as you can get your hands on it. If you're an audiobok fan this one is pos-i-toot-ly divine!
Most recent customer reviews
It was an absolutely wonderful story, well written with a diverse and...Read more
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