I recently joined a new book club (having grown terribly disappointed with the choices made by my other, Twilight-loving club). So far, there are only two members in our group, but I’m loving it. We talk about books we’ve loved and books we’ve hated, and we’ve made huge lists of books that we’ve recommended to each other. Our October book was The Diviners, and to be honest, neither of us was all that fired up about reading it.
And we both ended up really enjoying it.
The Diviners is a ghost story that mostly takes place in pre-depression, New York City. Prohibition is in full swing, flappers are the new “it” girls, and on Broadway, Ziefield and his Follies are all the rage. Evie has just moved to the city to live with her uncle (her parents simply couldn’t handle her drinking and her lifestyle out in Ohio). Evie’s uncle is the curator and manager of New York’s premier museum of the supernatural (or as they call it in the book, the Creepy-Crawly Museum), and Evie JUST SO HAPPENS to have a touch of supernatural power. She can see details of a person’s life, simply by holding an object of theirs.
Of course, a crazed serial killer is terrorizing New York City, and Evie, Uncle Will, and his assistant Jericho (who has some crazy secrets of his own) band together to prove that this killer is no normal human, and that the entire human race is at risk. We also meet a few other New Yorkers who have supernatural powers — the lovely Theta, who is a stylish Ziefield Girl; a handsome young healer in Harlem named Memphis Campbell; a con artist named Sam who can literally disappear right in front of you; and Theta’s roommate Henry, who perhaps has some powers we haven’t quite figured out yet. As Evie and her team raced to stop the murders, the evil spirit “Naughty John” hurries along to bring forth hell on earth.
This book is considered to by YA, but I”m not sure why. The murders are as brutal as anything I’ve read before, and the religious fanaticism and aspects of racism were tough to swallow at times (not because of Bray, but simply because the information was unpleasant). I guess because Evie was only 17, the book gets the YA label slapped on.
The story was pretty fast-paced and hard to put down. Libba Bray is really a very good writer, and she clearly did her research. She grabs you and hooks you with her language and her description of the time and place. I felt as if I could clearly see, hear, and smell 1920’s New York City through her words.
My only complaint: going into it, I had no idea that this was the first in a trilogy. I kept waiting and waiting for the end of the story, and then BOOM. It just ended with perhaps more mysteries than it began with. But really, why am I surprised? I think it might be a federal law that all books for clever young adults must come in groups of three.