The Diviners by Libba Bray

Posted May 30, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 1 Comment

The Diviners

The Diviners

by Libba Bray

Series: The Diviners #1
Publisher: Little Brown and Company on September 18, 2012
Genre: Ghost Story, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened...


Some things I like when I read books:

  • 1920s setting
  • a ghostly, witchy feel
  • people who are not what they seem
  • multiple POVs
  • a solid good vs. evil plot with lots of delicious twists.

And, that’s pretty much what I got from The Diviners!  I already knew I enjoy Libba Bray’s writing after sparkling reviews for both A Great and Terrible Beauty and Beauty Queens I expected to enjoy The Diviners, but that doesn’t make me any less impressed by the way she manages to build so many intriguing, different worlds that still hold true to her voice and make me fall for the characters.  Especially secondary characters.

For example, in The Diviners, I loved Theta Knight.  All the characters were good and I feel like at some point Mabel is going to turn into a villain because that would be a delicious twist… but Theta really brought it home for me.  She was such a powerful character, but played just perfectly so she never outshone Evie, the main protagonist.  Not a single character here was boring, so if you’re a character reader, expect to become invested.

I rarely discuss audiobook narrators unless they are really good or really bad, so I just wanted to point out that January LaVoy was a great choice to read this book.  She captured the menagerie of voices effortlessly and it was a joy to listen to her.  Also, I’ve had that “Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on” ditty stuck in my head for days, so she must be doing something right in bringing this world to life.

In general, I didn’t feel the plot left much room for surprise.  And this isn’t a complaint about the book or the plot, because I still enjoyed it, but we knew the villain before we knew the protagonists, and that never changed, not really.  We added accomplices and methods and a little more depth, but I kept waiting for a surprise that didn’t come.  And believe me, I was ready to hear that William was actually in on it because he seemed like just the type to be secretly nefarious.

As a rule, I enjoyed listening to this book.  I liked it better than A Great and Terrible Beauty, but not as much as Beauty Queens.  The pacing really dragged at the end, where the villain had been vanquished but things just kept goingThe wrap up took a little longer than I would have liked, and I actually checked to make sure I wasn’t listening to a preview of book two.  But other than that bit and the poor cat that was sacrificed for his intestines (I HAVE FEELINGS) this was a generally good book.

Judging by the Goodreads reviews, this series just keeps getting better, so I’m looking forward to reading Lair of Dreams.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Writing: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
Narrator: ★★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★★


How would you react if there was a murderous ghost abroad?  Would you fly into danger like Evie, or stay out of its way?  Tell me all about your reckless ghost-thwarting plans in the comments!

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