Review: The Diviners

April 6, 2013 Review 20 ★★★½

Review: The Diviners
The Diviners by Libba Bray
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Allen & Uwin
Source: Purchased
Pages: 578
Release Date: November 2012
Series: The Diviners #1
Genres: Historical, Horror & Ghost Stories, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Paranormal, Young Adult
1920s New York. A teen clairvoyant. An old evil.

It has begun…

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old home town and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City – and she is pos-i-tute-ly thrilled! New York is the city of speak-easies, rent parties, shopping and movie palaces, and soon enough Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfeld girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult – also known as ‘The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies’.

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of it. Even Evie’s new pals – hoofers, numbers runners and activists, but all swell kids – are drawn into the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer – if he doesn’t catch her first…
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Historical novels are a passion of mine. I love the past, it’s really interesting to see where society has come from and how the ideals have changed over time. However, I usually stick to pre-1900’s stuff. Once or twice I’ve read books set in World War II, sometimes World War I, but never the 1920’s until now. THE DIVINERS was a fantastic, fun, and hilarious introduction that not only revealed the segregation and issues of society at the time, but managed to have an intriguing plot embedded in it that really creeped me out. I was scared to sleep after I read the first murder. Bloody ghosts.

The world of THE DIVINERS is fantastic. A great cast of characters are present, each a complete individual with their own problems and nuances. Evie, our main character, is a loud, selfish, attention seeking party girl. From the sounds of things, I wouldn’t like her. Yet I love her. She’s fantastic and smart and funny. The events in THE DIVINERS and her relationships with others are really starting to shape her. She’s growing up. Other characters (there’s so many I could mention) haven’t had as great a life as Evie have (there are some incredibly harsh pasts among them), and are already very mature and wise. They are still experiencing hardships, many have to keep secrets from society, and sometimes it breaks your heart.

Writing wise, THE DIVINERS is… I don’t know how to explain it. The 20s slang is hilarious. So much fun to read. I loved it. But there was so much more to the writing than just the slang. Some of the thoughts expressed by characters were just so accurate I couldn’t help but stop and gape at the truthfulness of the statement. And then there were some of the descriptions that just left me gobsmacked. Like this one which ended one of the murder scenes, I believe:

And as the walls began to whisper, he lost his footing on the precipice of reason and began the terrible fall into a hell beyond imagination.

Overall, the plot was great. Slightly predictable because we knew who the killer was from the beginning (at least I did), yet still very entertaining. The mystery plot is only one of many entwining strings that make up THE DIVINERS. There’s a wide range of things going on, and I don’t know the meaning of half of them. We get shown a lot, and there’s no explanation. Which is good because we don’t want to be told everything, and bad because I want to know what it all means!

The reason I’m giving this three stars instead of four is because a) it was sort of slow. Not unbearably slow, just there could have been more action and dark scenes. And b) I feel like this book is only the beginning of something great. At the end, there are so many little clues drops and I have no idea how they connect. I just sense they will combine into something bigger, better, and more amazing than any story I could possibly imagine. I cannot wait for the opportunity to discover exactly what this mysterious story ends up being. All I know is it’s going to be great, and I will be very disappointed if it’s not.

Rating Report
Overall: 3.6

20 Responses to “Review: The Diviners”

    • Bec

      She is great! All her books/series that I’ve read are completely different. I need to buy them all :)

  1. Annette

    I really love this cover. I think it is more compelling than the original. I really enjoyed this book too — a bit slow, like you said, but worth every minute. Can’t wait for the sequel. Great review!

    • Bec

      The slang was awesome. I want to reread THE DIVINERS and memorise some so I can confuse people in real life.

  2. Megan TheBookBabe

    I loved this one. But I agree with you, it was REALLY slow, LOL! Evie did rock, and yeah, I knew who the killer was too. But that made the story so much more fantastic, don’t you agree? Fabulous review, Bec! (:

    Megan@The Book Babe

    • Bec

      If you don’t like slow historical fiction, I think you should wait to hear what the sequel’s like. I have a feeling the series is going to pick up speed like a steam train: slow at first but then almost unstoppable.

  3. Delaney

    Wow, first off, that Aussie cover is gorgeous. I know that some covers you despised but this one is gorgeous! Anyways, two of my classmates at school already read this book and they sit the row besides me and they continually gush together so i am definitely sure it sounds superb as I think! I love the sound of her setting and that mystery twist in there as well!

    Wonderful review! ^^

  4. Kelly

    That Aus cover is so much better than the US version! I’m pretty jealous right now. I think the big reason I’ve been avoiding this one is because of it’s daunting size, but with a cast of great characters and it’s fantastic 20s settings, I’m thinking I’m going to have to get over that! Haha

    • Bec

      It is! So pretty *__* THE DIVINERS looks massive, but the text is pretty large and the story is worth the read. Just take your time with it:)

  5. Kelley

    Man, another shining review for this book. I think I’m going to need to just friggin’ give in an read it already. The 1920s are not my favorite time period, which is why I’ve been avoiding it, but yeah. It sounds too good to pass up. Great review.

    • Bec

      I don’t really read much stuff that’s post 1900, but this was a great intro to the 20s. I say give it a chance. It just may surprise you.

    • Bec

      Historical fiction isn’t for everybody, but I really love it. The past is so interesting. The books can be slow though.

  6. Judith

    First off, I LOVE THAT COVER. I want it. It’s preeettyyyy. I’ve been wanting to read this one for a long time, and yet I never have. The reason? Probably the size of that book. If it’s anything like Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle series, it’s slower than I like most books to be. Then again, your review made me really want to pick it up again. I haven’t read a book in this time period before, and I’m curious :) Lovely review!

    • Bec

      It is a beautiful cover, the theme of which I hope they continue for the next books.

      The size is very intimidating. It’s one of the reasons THE DIVINERS sat on my shelf for so long. I think you should definitely give it a chance though. I think the next one might be faster.

      Thanks :D

      (You reminded me I need to buy and reread the Gemma Doyle series properly).

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