Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Title: The Diviners (The Diviners, #1) 

Author: Libba Bray 

Rating: 5 Stars 

The Diviners is, without a doubt, my favorite Libba Bray novel - and I've read all of them except for The Beauty Queens which I didn't get time to finish but which I fully intend to as I loved the few chapters I read of it. I am, truly, a self-proclaimed Libba Bray fan. I know her Gemma Doyle Trilogy had its flaws, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I remember it changed my perspective of literature at that time quite drastically. The Diviners on the other hand, contains no flaws. Well, to be honest I think this 578 Page book should have been longer, but I'm glad there's a sequel. I don't want to say good-bye to these characters anytime soon. 

Evie O’Neill is not like other girls living during the booming industrial age of the Roaring 20s. For one, she’s loud, outspoken, and hilariously full of life, but Evie also contains a gift that few other possess – by merely touching an object, Evie can glean information about its owner while that object was on them. Thus, after a “scandalous” incident forces her to stay with her Uncle Will in New York City, Evie finds herself in the midst of a mystery - a murder mystery no less. While random victims seem to be murdered in a bizarre – and frankly speaking creepy – fashion in New York, we are also introduced to a slew of other characters and story lines beyond just than of Evie’s. Jericho, the soft-spoken and handsome young man who works at Uncle Will’s Museum of Creepy Crawlies American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult; Theta, a beautiful show-star who dreams of making it big; Henry, a piano player with his own slew of secrets; Memphis, a handsome black poet who used to be able to cure with a touch; and many, many more. Nevertheless, even with an enormous cast, Libba Bray’s The Diviners manages to transport you back into America’s Roaring 20s and despite the freaky murders that occur left and right, you won’t want to leave.

I’ll be perfectly honest – I didn’t expect to not love this book. I went into The Diviners with high expectations and I came out of it with my mind blown, itching for the sequel despite the concrete ending and wanting to immediately flip to the beginning and experience this novel all over again. Yes, experience, for what Libba Bray creates is a portal into the realm of the past, full with the blitz, glamour, and utter joy of living in the Roaring 20s. Nevertheless, into this happy-go-lucky setting, she manages to throw in and create one of the most chilling mysteries I’ve ever read. It takes a lot to scare me while I read a book, but The Diviners sent my spine tingling with chills and had me constantly jumping in the middle of the street whenever I heard a whistle. It’s one of those books that assimilate itself into your life because you simply cannot let go of its pure awesomeness.

While the setting and fanatic murders of The Diviners itself make this novel stand out, what truly makes it a remarkable story is its characters. Evie is a gal that I just love. Not only is she fiercely headstrong, independent, and full of spunk, but she has her own share of flaws and can even be hard to like at times, but all this only serves to make her more real, more three-dimensional, and more understanding in my eyes. If I had to pick a book best friend, I’d pick Evie because believe me, this is a girl you want by your side. While Evie startles us with her outgoing nature though, it is Naughty John, the ghost killer in this novel, who truly takes our breath away – not with his dashing good looks, but with his tantalizing murder song, tell-tale whistle, and utter creep factor.

The Diviners is probably one of the few books I’ve read where the reader knows the killer from the beginning and is still utterly invested in the story. It seems as if it’s a storyline that is doomed to fail, but really, the reader is only kept frantically flipping the pages to see how Evie manages to use her power and sharp wit to uncover that this murderer isn’t even alive, but a ghost. It’s a wonderfully spun tale and the cast of other characters who accompany her on this mission are just as heart-warming, well-developed, and deep as Evie is.

One of the most memorable side characters, who really is a main character on his own, is Memphis. While Memphis’ and Evie’s storylines don’t intermingle as much as we might like in this installment, his storyline perfectly sets us up for the direction this trilogy is taking. You see, Memphis is a young black man struggling to cope with the loss of his gift of healing – a gift which failed him when he most needed it to cure his mother. Thus, we are introduced to a second storyline in this tale, one of the diviners, a group of people who possess gifts, much like Memphis and Evie. In most cases, multiple storylines, narrators, and characters in general is a recipe for disaster, but yet again, Libba Bray pulls it off perfectly. Naughty John and his murders still remain to be our prime issue at hand, but the subtle manner in which Bray wove together the back stories of her characters and revealed to us the wondrous direction in which her trilogy was heading was all done with a talent that I must admit is unparalleled.

I could go on about The Diviners for hours if I really wanted, but I’ll let you discover the magic that this book contains for yourself. The Diviners is unlike anything you’ve ever read before. It’s original. It’s atmospheric. It's vivid and sparkling and jumps out from the pages. Its characters are thoughtful, deep, and full of their own human flaws. Its murder mystery is chilling and creepy. Its setting is beautiful beyond doubt. Its multiple perspectives are written flawlessly. Its plot is only thickening in this book and I can't wait to see where it goes. It is scary. It is funny. It is love. 


  1. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! The Diviners! SO SO EXCITED for this book! I haven't actually read any Libba Bray's books before (which I really need to fix immediately) but I really want to read The Diviners! It sounds AMAZING. This might end up becoming my first Libba Bray book ;) I think Evie and I are going to get along really well too X) And ooo! Have you seen the Aussie cover, Keertana? I think it's my favourite out of all the covers :D

    Awesome review, Keertana ♥ So glad you enjoyed it!

  2. I wasn't planning on reading this (I mean it's huuuuge and I'm an incredibly slow reader!) but you've somehow managed to convince me that I'm missing out on a whole lot if I dont! First of all: three-dimensional characters. Seriously, that's all anyone needed to say to get me to read a book. But then you went on about how amazing the mystery was and it just sounds so complex and twisty and ahhhh, I'm kind of just a little bit desperate to get my grabby hands on this right now!

    Fantastic review C: Really glad that you loved it so much!


    Seriously, it wasn't I'm not willing to wait that long to get it. I'll get the eBook if my review copy doesn't arrive in the next few days O__O

    Oh.. Keertana. My oh my. Honestly, you've sold me -- completely -- from your first paragraph... I... I really wish I could even BEGIN to explaing how much your review excites me, and how amazing this sounds. and and and... I've never even READ a Libba Bray novel. EVER. And this is going to be my first! And EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE OMG I'M SO EXCITED! And ghost killers? OMFG. There is nothing -- NOTHING -- that scares me more than ghost killers. I mean, HOW DO YOU STOP AN INCORPOREAL KILLER?

    This. Sounds. INCREDIBLE.

    Seriously, I hope you know just how insanely talented a writer YOU are, my dear. This review is extraordinary, and I could just as easily lose myself in your words as I could the book itself ♥

  4. ASUFHDFCHSDKNCVJK DCFDHUJB SDHJKFBSDHJFBSDHFBD!!!!!!!! <--- Just about sums up my coherency right now.

    KEERTANA. OMG. I AM DYING FOR THIS A THOUSAND TIMES OVER AFTER YOUR REVIEW. And give then fact that I love Libba Bray already, says a LOT about your review-writing skills. I still haven't finished the final book in the Gemma Doyle trilogy, but I SO loved Beauty Queens and Going Bovine and... THE DIVINERS SOUNDS SO EFFING AMAZING.

    I'm not scared easily with books either, so I'm REALLY interested to see how I'll go with this. I want a book that scares the crap out of me :D

    The characters and the story and ghost killers and spunky heroine and the 20's and abilities and WHY DON'T I HAVE A COPY YET?!?! Incredible review, but you already knew that.

  5. I just won this one so I can't wait to start it. This sounds so perfect for me and I love that it has such a good mystery. Oh and that world sounds like someplace I'd love to visit.

  6. I'm so thrilled you lived this one too, Keertana. I agree the almost 600 pages almost didn't seem like enough, and I'm not a fan of lengthy novels, but here it works. I loved the setting and Evie was a breath of fresh air. This story managed to be creepy and fun at the same time. Wonderful review. :)

  7. "The Diviners is probably one of the few books I’ve read where the reader knows the killer from the beginning and is still utterly invested in the story."

    YES!!! I really loved that aspect too. I expected it to be more of a whodunnit type read, but I think in this case it was all the more terrifying knowing who the killer was and knowing the characters are unable to stop him. I'm really looking forward to seeing where things go in the next book with the Diviners starting to band together a bit. SO GOOD!

  8. Keertana! Your review is just perfect! The Diviners is definitely my favourite Libba Bray novel too. I loved the creepiness, the setting, the characters... And I have so so so many questions! Especially after the last 30 pages or so. Who do we need to beg for the sequel? ;)

  9. Wonderful! Brilliant! Stupendous review Keertana!!!!! Gosh, i want to read Diviners NOW. (because of your amazing review, course)

    Love the way you listed the characters. Evie sounds awesome! Sassy character's are the best. And really experiencing the 20's, PERFECT!

    PS. What you said about liking this story even though you knew the murderer, reminded me of why i love the lying game series so much. even though i'm 90% of who the killer is, i still want to read it because of how amazingly it is written. I just love books that just bring.

  10. This one sounds so intriguing. Like you said it takes a good story for the reader to know who the killer is the whole way and still be completely invested in the story. Great review!

  11. I am glad you enjoyed The Diviners so much, Keertana! I am anxiously awaiting the opportunity to read it myself. I enjoyed the Gemma Doyle trilogy back when the books were first published, but since then I've heard solid criticisms in terms of Bray's portrayal of race, among other things. I haven't had the opportunity to revisit those books, and I'm not sure I want to have my first impressions changed anyway. BUT I am excited by the premise of The Diviners and the setting and everything. It sounds fabulous!

  12. oh geez K, you have a way with words and I can TELL how much you love this one. I really want to love it too! I'm about one hundred pages and not really feeling it but hope it changes! I really want to like this one! It definitely sounds like a beautiful one and it takes talent to have such an ensemble cast be cohesive.

  13. I agree. The characters helped make the book what it was. But for me, I fell for the story. And the writing. I mean, it was brilliant. This was my first Libba Bray book and it certainly won't be my last. I LOVE HER. I hope this series goes on forever. I never want to leave this world. Great review, Keertana!

  14. I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't read any of Bray's books because their size looks so daunting. But, I've heard the historical backdrop is always well-researched. There don't seem to be too many YA mystery novels anyway so perhaps this would be a good book of hers to start with, especially since you gave it 5 stars. Great review, Keertana!

  15. I am so glad I already ordered this cause if I hadn't I would be now! I'm a bit worried about the creep factor cause I'm a chicken but I'm sure I can handle it. I'm just SO excited to meet these characters! And the setting and time period is one of my favorites to read about. Yep. I cant wait to read this!

  16. YAY I'm soooo glad you loved this one, I have a copy that I'm planning to read soon :)!! Thanks for the great review ;)

  17. And Keertana does it again. Seriously, girl, I think I will order any book, even a cooking book, simply because you recommend it to me! <3 I just fall in love with your reviews! Oh my gosh, I love how you describe details in the story! It truly sounds EPIC. I can't wait for to have this book in my hands! <3

    I'm a fan of historical fiction, so I'm pretty sure that I'm going to enjoy this book too! <3 The mystery, the characters... they all seem flawless!! <3 Thank you for your gushing, lovely review, Keertana! So glad you enjoyed this book so much! <3 x)

  18. I absolutely love this review Keertana, as you know I originally thought this book wasn't for me, but after these great reviews started trickling in I just knew I had to get a copy, luckily enough my copy arrived this week, I was going to put it off for a week or two, but your review has made me want to pick it up straight away, I think I will have to sneak in a few chapters after Night Beach, after everything it's put us through I think I deserve to pick it up asap! I can't wait to meet Evie too! After you love and enthusiasm for this book I'm not worried about the 600 pages at all! And btw I am totally blaming you for my tbr pile going into disarray! ;)

  19. Fantastic review, Keertana! I'm close to finishing this book right now. :)

  20. I'm not surprised to see you say that this is your favorite Libba Bray novel--I'm banking on it being mine as well! The fact that you went in thinking the same and had your high expectations blown away means a lot. I kind of love that you know the killer from the beginning. That way you don't have that annoyed 'of couse I know who done it' feeling and have to wonder if the author really thinks s/he's fooling anyone. Absolutely lovely review, Keertana! I'm thoroughly convinced I cannot wait for the next book to pick this one up.

  21. Yes on all fronts, Keertana! And we may be the ONLY two people who agree on this, but yes, I think it could've been longer too!

    I knew Bray could write humor, any interview, guest post, etc. I have ever read of her's shows what a great sense of humor she has, but I was totally blown away by the writing in this book. There are so many references to Whitman and Hughes, and I'll be darned if this book didn't read like them in certain parts!

    I love all the characters, am amazed by all the research that went into the book and LOVE the scary parts too. Such an AMAZING read! Can't wait for the sequel!
    AWESOME review, Keertana, really:)

  22. You described my feelings about this book better than I myself did! Evie was hard to like at times for me too (and I didn't really appreciate that last move, although I certainly understood it), but like you, I felt that it made her more real and approachable.
    Naughty John was just fabulous, wasn't he? He wasn't what I liked the most about the book, the characters and the setting were, but BRay has a talent for creating an eerie atmosphere.
    I adored this book and I adore this review, Keertana!

  23. Wow! Beautiful review. I liked this a lot, but my problem with it was too many of the secondary story lines never played out and I was left wondering what their purpose was other than to lay down threads for the next book. I loved that this is big and complex and adored the setting. Evie came off a bit obnoxious at first but I really got so I liked her and grew impatient when the story shifted from her POV. This is definitely a tantalizing beginning!

  24. I seriously need to read this book soon! It sounds phenomenal and your review is gorgeous as usual, Keertana. :) I love creepy villains, kick-butt heroines, the Jazz era (if I could transport myself back in time, THAT is the era I would visit!) and the slang seems like it could be fun. :) I'm so thrilled you met your lover in this book, Keertana! ;)

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  26. The Diviners is a wonderfully authentic and creeptastic read. Libba Bray has crafted an intricate and fascinating paranormal world that parallels our own. I highly recommend reading this book as soon as you can get your hands on it. If you're an audiobok fan this one is pos-i-toot-ly divine!


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