Title: Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2)
Author: Libba Bray
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5 Stars)
Release Date: August 25, 2015
“For dreams, too, are ghosts, desires chased in sleep, gone by morning.”
I really loved this book – not as much as The Diviners, but I had a fantastic time reading it. There was more mystery, new characters, and bigger threats all culminating in a captivating story that keeps you turning the pages.
Things I Liked
All of the characters are spirited, dimensional, and real. Evie, Sam, Theta, Henry, Jericho, and Memphis are all back in action after defeating John Hobbes in The Diviners (along with many side characters like Uncle Will, Sister Walker, Isaiah, Mabel, and Blind Bill Johnson). We see how the characters have changed after the events of the last book, and how their relationships with each other as changed as well. Everyone is slightly different – changed by facing Hobbes and confronting who they are, Diviner powers and all. I loved the introduction of the new characters, specifically Ling Chan and Wai-Mae. We saw glimpses of Ling in book 1 during Henry’s dream walks, and it was nice to see their relationship develop through their shared Diviner power.
The magical 1920s that Libba Bray had created is full of whimsy, superstition, and New York grit. The fantastical powers and situations are grounded very much in the real world – through historical figures and facts – and creates a captivating magical world that continues to grow as the characters explore themselves.
Again, each character is an individual that creates many interesting dynamics in the group. The characters each embody realistic, but different, people and are very easy to connect to.
Like in The Diviners, Lair of Dreams addresses topics that have remained in the media in the past century. From sexism and racism to immigration rights and eugenics, Lair of Dreams tackles the unsavory aspects of US history, without trivializing them in the fictional world. We see the characters confront these topics and live in a world where they are not always respected.
Things I Didn’t Like
I felt the story was more disjointed than the previous one. I took a while for some character to be reintroduced to the story – and even then they were largely isolated from the rest of the group for a majority of the story. Everything started to come together around the 400 page mark. The characters and the story lines started to converge, mixing and building on one another, towards a gratifying conclusion.
There were so many shady people in this story it was almost difficult to narrow down who the “actual” villain was. Between mentions of a man in a tall hat and pipe, the veiled woman, the goons in suits, a Shadow Man, and the King of Crows (maybe the hat guy?
it wasn’t really clear to me), it was difficult to focus on who was the villain in this story and who was set up for future books.
This isn’t a con so much as something that just disinterests me. I haven’t really cared any of the romance story lines in the series so far, though I do like Theta & Memphis. There’s like two separate quasi-triangles going on with half the characters and I’m just not interested. They aren’t done poorly, it’s just that everything else is so much more interesting. And the non-romantic relationships are set-up and developed so well that I just don’t really care about the romance plots.
The more I think about it, the more I love Lair of Dreams. The characters and the world are so captivating and I appreciate how Libba Bray has crafted a magical world rooted in realism and history. The writing is quick and the characters are smart. There is mystery, danger, fun, and whimsy – everything you want in a magical world set in 1920s New York.
Have you read LAIR OF DREAMS yet? What’s your favorite YA historical book? Share below!
*DISCLAIMER – This review is from a year ago (it’s been on Goodreads) I just needed to cross post it here so I could have the entire series here. Before the Devil Breaks You will go up soon.