Monday, January 28, 2013

Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Monday, January 28, 2013
Genre: Historical fiction/fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown
Series: The Diviners #1
Source: Bought
The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)
Evie isn't like everyone else in her hometown. She's too spirited and headstrong, not to mention her magical ability to find out about people through reading their belongings. After one of her stunts goes too far, her parents ship her off to New York City, which, in her opinion is hardly a punishment. However, once a string of murders starts happening, Evie gets sucked in to finding the perpetrator. With her uncle Will, Jericho (her uncle's mysteriously quiet assistant), Sam (a conceited, charming thief), and Mabel (her best friend), she works towards putting together a crime that's years old. They're not the only ones wrapped up in the mystery. Theta, of the Ziegfeld Follies, is trying to make it in the City and forget her past. Memphis wants to be the next Langston Hughes, but has to provide for his family. But no matter where you come from, or who you want to be, no one is safe from Naughty John. 

The Setting
Ah, the roaring twenties. Ever since I saw the show Thoroughly Modern Millie, I've loved reading and learning about this time period. The freedom, the jazz, the writers (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, etc.), the fashion... and all of it at odds with the values and rules of an older generation. Bray captures that contention (and all of the glitz) within the pages of The Diviners, showing the twenties from every angle. The setting is so vivid that it feels like I actually walked down the streets of 1920s New York myself. This book also made me wish we could bring back some twenties slang. Wouldn't that be just jake?

The Characters
There are many leading characters in The Diviners. Stories told from multiple viewpoints are great when done right, and Bray did not disappoint. Each character is different, with their own bright personalities and quirks that make them feel incredibly real. Evie is the protagonist- she's something of a Millie in the sense that she wants to escape her small-minded, small town roots and be a proper flapper in the City. She's impulsive and selfish, and generally very infuriating. But despite her many flaws, she is courageous and intelligent. Theta and Memphis are tied for my favorite character, though. Theta's quips often had me smirking, but she's also one of the most sympathetic characters in the book. Memphis, meanwhile, possesses amazing hope while trying to balance responsibility and guilt.

"Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on..."
The Diviners centers around a ghost story, that of Naughty John. It's creepy, especially because of the song that accompanies the ghost, and it will definitely give you chills. You probably don't want to read the scenes with Naughty John at night. And let's just say I haven't been able to go near my Ouija board since I read this book. Add to all of this the fact that Evie is staying at her uncle's occult museum, and the atmosphere Bray has created becomess fantastically eerie.

Final Thoughts
I await the second book in this series with bated breath. There is so much left to be determined and I can't wait to see where Bray will take the story next!
*4.5 stars*
Other books by Libba Bray: The Gemma Doyle trilogy, Going Bovine, Beauty Queens
What is your favorite time period to read about?


  1. What a thouroughly delicious review, Sara! I shall order it straight away from our local library! My favorite time period to read about is anytime England. 1400-1900.
    Thanks for starting my day with a good book!
    ~Just Jill

  2. This looks so cool! I just need to order it in paperback!


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