Lo and behold I finally read a book this month! The Diviners by Libba Bray is a great fall or Halloween time of the year pick. The frights and gore and level of creepiness probably make this YA paranormal read appropriate for age 16+, but would not recommend for younger kids!
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: The Diviners
- Series: The Diviners, #1
- Author: Libba Bray
- Publisher & Release: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers – September 2012
- Length: 578 pgs
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for fans of paranormal, 1920s, creepy vibes and darker themes
Here is the book blurb:
A young woman discovers her mysterious powers could help catch a killer in the first book of The Diviners series–a stunning supernatural historical mystery set in 1920s New York City, from Printz Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray.
Evangeline O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and sent off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is 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.
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 unfurl in the city that never sleeps. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened…
Audiobook note: it is slightly over 18 hours of listening time, narrated by January LaVoy. Published by Listening Library in 2012. LaVoy is a freaking amazing narrator, she has to cover everything from flappers to demons to jazz musicians and totally nails it
“Your mother and I do not approve of drinking. Have you not heard of the Eighteenth Amendment?”
“Prohibition? I drink to it’s health whenever I can”
Ok so this book, AND the audio, both have truly creepy vibes at times. It is a chonker but for the most part extremely quick paced and a lot of fun to both read and listen to. I felt the danger while they were investigating the murders and dealing with the spirit!
There is a lot of 1920s slang that was a little annoying, and I don’t know if it’s authentic or not. Evie and Sam, Jericho, Theta, Memphis, Will, they were all great characters with their own arcs of trauma, self acceptance, and skills to bring to the table. Their back stories were interesting, sad and dark. There were a lot of characters but no one was wasted. I just docked a star because I was not buying the romance at the end, at all, it happened pretty quick and just didn’t feel real
“People will believe anything if it means they can go on with their lives and not have to think too hard about it.”
The mystery itself seemed dark for YA, but unique and I loved it. A demon? Spirit? Ghost? Is acting out the 12 offerings in a sacred text to become the prophesied beast, reign hellfire, reshape the Earth. It results in bloody murders across NYC that Evie is in a unique position to help solve
How do you invent a religion?” Evie asked.
Will looked over the top of his spectacles. “You say, ‘God told me the following,’ and then wait for people to sign up.”
I was thinking about the concept of having to banish/kill the spirit on his own terms, as in the legend/religion/prophecy becomes true because it’s believed, or is fuelled by beliefs. I see that theme in paranormal and mythology texts lot, and then got to laughing because in a Christmas eve homily about 10 years ago the priest said something like “it’s true because we believe it” — and we all looked at each other saying “no, we believe it because it’s true, not vice versa” lol.
Now I am stuck on this whole belief vs truth thing. It is a huge theme in the book and an interesting one for that YA age to ponder
“People tend to think that hate is the most dangerous emotion. But love is equally dangerous,” Will said. “There are many stories of spirits haunting the places and people who meant the most to them. In fact, there are more of those than there are revenge stories.
So yeah, this is a book/audio that I’d definitely recommend for those who like sassy female leads, paranormal, mysteries, life in the 20s, and all that. Some tough themes are handled like death, violence, corpse and live body mutilation, confronting dead parents, religious zealotry, a kitty is killed for a ritual 😭 and implied sexual thoughts, but 16+ should be fine!
Are you reading any spooky books yet this fall!?