The Diviners by Libba Bray
YA, Historical, Paranormal, Supernatural
Hardcover, 578 pages
Published September 18th, 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
This is the story of several characters whose lives are woven together through interesting and supernatural circumstances. The main character is a 17-year-old girl named Evie O’Neill from Zenith, Ohio. She has been shipped off to live with her uncle in Manhattan. It’s the roarin’ ’20s, and Evie is a devil-may-care flapper looking for a good time. She thinks Manhattan is just the place for a girl like her, what with all the interesting characters and speakeasies—it’s just the berries. Her uncle is the Curator of the American Museum of Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, AKA, the Museum of the Creepy Crawlies. He is an expert in the occult, although he claims not to believe in any of it. However, he has his secrets, and so does Evie. Hers involves a supernatural ability. When Evie’s uncle Will gets called in to help with a mysterious murder involving the Occult, Evie realizes she might be able to use her ability to help.
It seems all the characters in the story have their own (possibly supernatural) secrets—Theta the chorus girl, Memphis the numbers runner, Jericho Evie’s uncle’s assistant, even Sam Lloyd the drugstore cowboy.
As they investigate the mystical elements of the murders, one thing becomes increasing clear: ‘Something wicked this way comes’…
My first thought when I picked up this novel was, “Dearest Libba Bray, could you not have chosen a more original title? Say, one that was not the same as the classic Canadian novel by Margaret Laurence?” I may still be a bit sore about that (although I have yet to read Laurence’s book), I have since forgiven Bray. Mostly. This novel was incredibly strange and fantastical and more than a little spooky. I thoroughly enjoyed it in all it’s weirdness. I especially enjoyed that it was set in the 20s. It was a little break from all the futuristic fantasy novels that seem to be pouring out of every crack in the wall. This fantasy was instead set in the past, imbued with a balance of both the familiar and the original. I may not believe in ghosts, and may find the occult to be on the sacrilegious side of things, but I do enjoy reading about it. It is fun! And this book certainly was fun.
I recommend The Diviners if you like awesome, weird things. Especially if you have read Bray’s work in the past and enjoyed it. I recommend this book if any part of the synopsis sounds interesting to you! It was a super fun read.
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.