The Diviners, by Libba Bray

Review published on April 9, 2013. Reviewed by Sara Garland

Nudge Reviewer Rating:

[product sku=”9781907410406″]Whilst the over exuberance of the 1920’s doesn’t normally float my boat, the unusual mixture of this time setting with such sinister goings on grabbed my attention as being unusual and unique. Pleasingly, it proved to be an intriguing and engaging read.

Evie O’Neil is a head strong intelligent girl, who loves the thrill and risk of a party at a time when alcohol was prohibited. Trouble is she is a bit too head strong for her parents and a cause of embarrassment after a party trick does more harm than good. As a means of punishment she is sent to live with her Uncle Will in New York for a few months.

Whilst she acts hard done by, this sassy lass is over the moon, as she will be able to see her good friend and fit into a more liberal and bustling city – more in keeping with her personality and ambition. With visions of shopping, partying and the movies she ecstatically sets upon an adventure of a lifetime.

When she arrives she soon learns that she will need to find her uncle in the locally referred to museum of creepy crawlies, where he studies and is quietly obsessed with the occult. She is an eternal optimist, with both frustrating and endearing traits that actually make her quite a well-rounded character. Although the museum is stuffy and old-fashioned, Evie is not perturbed by these odd and somewhat sinister surroundings. If anything she is filled with a compulsion to make it more inviting and exciting.

The murder of a young girl branded with a strange symbol, causes the local police to approach Uncle Will, seeking his professional advice and guidance. Evie realises that she can help with the murder investigation too, especially with her hidden gift…

More unfolds are Evie becomes friendly with Theta, one of the chorus girls. Another character Memphis and his younger brother, also with a gift, start to experience strange changes. Something odd is beginning to happen.
More murders occur, which it becomes evident are interlinked. With Evie’s gift she starts to hear a strange song:

“Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on. Cuts your throat and takes your bones, sells ’em off for a coupla stones.”

The more they research into these murders, the reality of what is entailed and the horror of it all is revealed.

Bray has produced an all American story, which is rich and vivid. She brings alive the bustling 1920’s, in an engaging and highly entertaining manner. The characters are bold and distinctive, each interesting and purposeful. The layering of the story and the manner in which it unfurls is done exceedingly well, although there is a quite a mash up of differing supernatural phenomena, built around the murders. Some of the subplots were somewhat quirky and their believability particularly about Jericho’s hidden past were questionable given the period in time, but easily forgiven in what was an essentially well written plot. There are quite a few seemingly dead end threads of the story which I anticipate will have their purpose and come to light in the next instalment.

Previous:

Girl Genius (1 & 2), by Phil and Kaja Foglio

Next:

An extract from Herald of the Storm, by Richard Ford

You may also like