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The Diviners Hardcover – September 18, 2012
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The Amazon Book Review
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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.
"The Diviners delivers an addictive and terrifying story of young New Yorkers investigating a rash of occult-based murders. Bray sustains a breathless energy throughout this ambitious series-starter, deftly evoking the exuberance of 1920s city life and the evil lurking beneath it."―Entertainment Weekly
* "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)
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As the Solomon's Comet is to make its pass of earth, the time for Armageddon to be unleashed on the planet draws closer and someone has returned to fulfill the evil prophecy. But nothing is ever as simple as that and so there's a string of murders to solve in a city full of strange occurrences, unknown powers and wicked intentions.
When Evie gets into trouble for her drunken attempt to vilify a young man, her parents choose to send her away to her bachelor uncle all the way to New York City to cool things down in Ohio. In New York City, Evie is reunited with Mabel and is ecstatic to be there as her Uncle Will isn't the all that restrictive as long as Evie stays out of trouble. She meets Sam, Jericho as well as Theta and Henry, each of whom have their own life troubles to deal with. Then there's Memphis and his little brother as well as his best friend, Gabriel who are just trying to survive life in the twenties.
Evie is very carefree and loud in her ways even if she doesn't really like herself all that much. However, I really liked her. As much as she's rash and moody, she's also very outspoken and opinionated. Jericho is this quiet and bookish boy who think he's a freak and I just love him the most as he's amazing all around. Memphis is a poet, Henry is a pianist; really, everyone in this book is so dynamic and their interactions with each other are so interesting, especially the friendship of Theta and Henry. More, please.
The historical setting of the roaring twenties is done amazingly well. It's apparent just how much research went into constructing the world with such vivid details of how life used to be in a bygone era. The language, the fashion, the lifestyles just work together as a single unit to transport the reader to that time with breathtaking ease.
On a deeper level, there's a lot of moral relativism, agnosticism, religious philosophies as well as political notions in The Diviners, as the characters often find themselves discussing one philosophy or the other. I find such talk fascinating because its edutainment value really opens up the mind to how the world works. I particularly enjoyed reading about theodicy because it's a very relatable and oft-repeated philosophy in today's world.
The Diviners is one hell of a creepy book. I love reading horror because it's so much fun! I will admit that I avoided reading this at night when I got slightly spooked out a couple times. Still, there's murder, there's cannibalism, there's utter gore; all of which I found oh-so-enticing to read about. The whole cast of characters is lively and there are some very hilarious moments despite the plot being so grim. There's a lot to The Diviners and in essence, it's a perfect read to immerse yourself in on a rainy day.
First thing I need to start off with is how much I liked the time period and how well Libba Bray executed it. She OBVIOUSLY did her research, which is always nice, but then she was able to take that research and make you feel like you were actually in that time period. There have been other historical fiction novels that I have read, that while it is set in a different time period, the characters feel like they come right out of the 21st century. The descriptions of the places and the slang that was used in The Diviners actually made me feel like I was actually in the 1920's.
The other thing I loved was the paranormal aspect. Whenever I heard someone talk about this book all I got from most of the reviews what that it was a spooky/scary book, I didn't really hear most people talk about the paranormal part of this book, and so finding out that teenagers with paranormal powers was a part of this book made me pleasantly surprised. While I loved this part, it was also what left me a little disappointed with this book. (view spoiler)
The only other thing that I really did not like (other than the previously stated slightly spoilery part above) was the sort of(?) love triangle. It wasn't a huge, but I have a feeling that it is going to be bigger in the next book and that just kind of annoys me. Honesty, I don't think it was executed badly, I just am so over them at this point that even the hints of them annoy me now. This is obviously a personal thing, and I wouldn't actually use this as something against this book, I just have read way too many of them and feel the need to point them out.
I am sure I have more things I could talk about, but I need to start Lair of Dreams, so this will have to do.
Even so, I relate so deeply with Evie and her feeling of being too much and not enough. She makes the book delightful with her presence, even when she does things that are completely exacerbating. I have listened to the audiobook countless times and often just grab the book off the shelf to read my favorite passages. I CANNOT recommend this book highly enough!