Monday, October 21, 2013
The Diviners Review
Book talk: 'That awful O'Neill girl' is at it again. Evie's got herself caught up in another scandal and she refuses to apologize. So her parents have shipped her off to spend the summer with her uncle, who runs a museum of the supernatural in New York. Evie doesn't mind one bit. She is too much for her small Ohio town and eager to try life in the big city. She finds all of the temptations she was looking forward to: speakeasies and hard dancing, short bobs and shorter skirts, sloe gin and fast jazz. But she also finds dangers that she never expected. A serial murderer with ties to the occult is terrorizing the city. With her uncle's expertise and her secret talents they begin to track the killer down, but their efforts draw his attention and soon they become his next targets.
Rocks my socks: This novel has all the excitement of a jazz-age adventure with the added thrill of murder investigation. The vast cast of characters represents people from various walks of life to capture some of the complexity of the era: a socialite, a socialist, a Harlem numbers runner, and a Ziegfeld girl to name a few. Reading the dialogue is like watching a fencing match as the characters swap witticisms and take jabs at each other. I read it in my head in the fast, clipped accents of His Girl Friday. The characters are well-drawn and engaging and I was easily swept away by their stories. All the historical details were fascinating and I pos-i-tute-ly loved all the lingo used throughout.
Rocks in my socks: The narrative felt overly ambitious. There were a lot of characters and plot threads to follow. Sprinkled among the chapters from all the varying characters' perspectives were chapters talking about the country and the decade in sweeping descriptions that felt a bit pretentious. The supernatural aspects were my least favorite parts and there were so many supernatural threads on top of all the other plots: there's the occult killer and the special powers of certain characters emerging like a 1920's Heroes, not to mention Ouija boards and the whole museum of artifacts. By the time Jericho's mysterious past was revealed I had had enough.
Every book its reader: I'd give this to fans of mystery, supernatural, and historical fiction looking for a sweeping tale to take them away. The length and the copious use of period slang may turn some off, but those willing to dive in and immerse themselves in an era and a story will be well rewarded. The murders have some pretty gruesome details so I'd save it for at least 8th grade and up.
There's a whole site devoted to the book with character bios, Diviners Radio, and more
Libba Bray has her own site with the usual fare as well as a media section
There's great, chilling trailer for the book with a creepy song that will unfortunately probably be running through my head as I try to sleep tonight:
Source: ebook from public library
The Diviners by Libba Bray: buy it or check it out today!