Title: The Diviners (The Diviners #1)
Author: Libba Bray
Release Date: September 18, 2012
“There is no greater power on this earth than story.” Will paced the length of the room. “People think boundaries and borders build nations. Nonsense—words do. Beliefs, declarations, constitutions—words. Stories. Myths. Lies. Promises. History.” Will grabbed the sheaf of newspaper clippings he kept in a stack on his desk. “This, and these”—he gestured to the library’s teeming shelves—“they’re a testament to the country’s rich supernatural history.”
The Diviners is a captivating story full of mystery, glamour, intrigue, magic and grit.
The 1920′-s New York depicted is nuanced and whimsical. We follow exiled Evie O’Neil as she is shipped off the New York City, something she’s very happy about, to stay with her Uncle who runs the Supernatural and Occult Museum, something she’s less happy about. But when paranormal murders start happening, Evie realizes her own gift may help catch a serial killer instead of bringing her trouble. Along the way Evie encounters other people who help her fight the unknown and bring life to this glitzy 1920s world.
Things I Liked:
The characters are all well developed and given unique personalities that both compliment and contrast with each other, composing a well-realized cast of young people in 1920s New York. Evie is smart, snarky, driven, and manipulative. Mabel is loyal, caring, patient and cautious. Theta is determined, hard-working, flirty, and vivacious. Jericho is guarded, shy, secretive, and gentle. Sam is shady, charming, confident and suave. Memphis is sensitive, grounded, regretful, and devoted to family. Henry is humorous, lighthearted, and kind. Each character is crafted to be their own person, so each relationship that develops reflects the individual characters and is very realistic.
The occult and supernatural topics in the story were super interesting and connected to larger themes about religion, evil, free will, and the power of beliefs. Grounding the otherworldly elements in those themes helped the story, and the characters motivations, have real weight to them. You believe that characters are behaving in a way that aligns with their beliefs so the plot makes sense and follows from one action to the next. Even if those beliefs don’t align with the other characters in the story (or with your own as a reader) you see how it motivates their actions.
Things I Didn’t Like: I wasn’t the biggest fan of the romances in the story? I don’t think they were weak or underveloped, I just didn’t really care about them much.
The Diviners was an incredible read, with a thought-provoking plot featuring dynamic and engaging characters. We see the frivolity of the roaring 20 contrasted against the serial murders that dabble into the occult. There are parties and speakeasies and all the flights of fancy of “young people in modern times.” However, the world is grounded by realistically exploring racism and other discriminations that existed at the time. I would highly recommend it.