All My Thoughts on The Diviners by Libba Bray
As some of you may know, the fourth book in Libba Bray’s The Diviners series, The King of Crows, is coming in February. What most of you may not know is that I have never read The Diviners. So, I have decided to take this glorious opportunity to rectify this obvious lapse in my reading repertoire and read through the first three books before book four comes in and I get completely and utterly spoiled. Here are my thoughts on book one.
For those who don’t know, The Diviners is set in 1926 New York City, teeming with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. Evie O’Neill, modern woman and flapper extraordinaire, has been exiled from her hometown in Ohio and sent to live with her uncle Will in New York City. And she couldn’t be more excited! The only catch is Will’s obsession with the occult. She’s worried he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has brought her nothing but trouble so far. When the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic sigil, they call Will to the scene. Evie realizes her gift could help catch a killer, and while she begins a dangerous dance with a murderer other stories begin to unfold within the city. All while something dark and evil has awakened, beginning to lurk in the shadows.
Why did I not pick this series up sooner?! It’s right up my alley: 1920s New York, the supernatural, murder mystery! TBH, before this moment I had never read a Libba Bray book. Some of you are scandalized, I know. But worry not, the problem has been solved. SO LET’S TALK DIVINERS, BABY.
*SPOILER ALERT* I will be talking pretty extensively about the plot and giving away some major spoilers. So if you haven’t yet read The Diviners, just know that I adore this book with the passion of a thousand suns and radiate with incandescent love for all the characters and pos-i-tute-ly brilliant prose. Read it, please. For my sake. And then come back here!
Let me just say, Evie O’Neill is a queen. A goddess. An absolute doll. I love her so much. She is so out-going and quick witted, and just plain fun. I feel like it has been a long time since I read a book with a main character who is just so seemingly light-hearted and immediately likeable. Maybe that’s just because I read a lot of brooding fantasy, but I find Evie’s attitude and general spunk refreshing.
I loved learning about 1920s New York with her, and her love for the city reignited my desire to explore it myself. Where are the speakeasies at, anyone know? The 1920s atmosphere is delightfully flirtatious and spiffy. Flapper slang is my new favorite thing. I refuse to call alcohol anything but “giggle water” or “coffin varnish” from now on.
The other characters are just as fascinating, if not quite so immediately bubbly. We don’t get to see as much of them, though the book bounces in third person between many perspectives. Theta is cool-as-you-like and sassy as hell, and I like seeing how she, Evie, and Mabel play off each other. Mabel being the ‘wallflower’ of the group, though something tells me she’s just hiding her backbone. Evie, being outgoing and gregarious, and Theta a little too cool for school, but sharp as a whip. The scene where they try to convince Mabel to bob her hair is a particular favorite.
Memphis, or ‘poet’ as Theta affectionately calls him, is great too, though we don’t meet as much of him in this book. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of Memphis Campbell in later books though, as most of his storyline seems to be setting up the major conflict for the series. I think. Also, something tragic is going to happen to this poor boy, I know it. As if he hasn’t had enough to deal with. I love his relationship with Isaiah, even if Isaiah gets a little on my nerves. Which, I will admit, has nothing to do with Isaiah’s personality, but more to do with the fact that he is a child and actually acts like it. He makes foolish decisions and gets insulted based upon his childhood logic, and it all makes sense and makes him feel real. It is just so frustrating to watch Isaiah work against himself and Memphis without realizing it. It’s perfect. I hate it.
Sam and Jericho are probably the two characters I changed my mind about most in the book. At first, I was a Sam stan all the way. I’ve not met a debonair thief I couldn’t love and Sam is no exception. He and Evie flirting/fighting is a joy to behold. Jericho, on the other hand, I was not a huge fan of in the beginning. But gosh darn it if he hasn’t grown on me. And as I learned more about Jericho’s past, the more I understood his stance and his personality. And as I grew to like Jericho more, I began to like Sam less. Not in a ‘I don’t like him as a person’ kind of way, more like, ‘I don’t want him to end up with Evie.’ And that’s the real crux of the issue.
NOW LET’S TALK LOVE, PEOPLE.
I have to tell you, I am very particular about my romantic plots. Not that I don’t love a good romance, because I do, but I find I need to be really invested in a romance for me to be excited for it. And this book! I just want everyone to have a happy ending, but I know they’re not and it is killing me.
Okay. Love triangle. Love square? I don’t know what you would call this, but it’s confusing as hell. Mabel loves Jericho in a school-girl fantasy sort of way, and Evie is determined to help. But it seems that Jericho has feelings for Evie. Meanwhile, Sam also has his sights on Evie, but Evie wants Jericho, but Mabel is her best friend…
As I said, complicated. To be honest, I’m rooting for Evie and Jericho to get together. I like Sam, but he’s got a mission searching for his missing mother, and I don’t think he understands Evie as well as Jericho does. I think Sam is a flirt, and what he feels for Evie is a passing thing but who can say? And let’s be real, Mabel doesn’t love Jericho. I just hope she realizes it before she and Evie have a major falling out. All I know is, I thought I was done with the love triangle. Turns out, I am here for it!
Our next romantic coupling is Memphis and Theta AND THEY DESERVE EACH OTHER. But it’s the 20s dammit, and the world is terrible and won’t allow a biracial couple to be a thing. Part of me wants to dream they’ll make it work, but I think society will forever keep them apart. And, to be fair, they don’t know a whole lot about one another. They’ve spent a couple of evenings together, and while they are so, so, so cute, I’m not going to hold out too much hope. Because having hope means it will probably one day be crushed. And I can only take so much tragic romance, people!
The Diviners really reads like an Agatha Christie novel while setting up what is looking to be a sweeping epic that will eventually involve the fate of the whole nation. The horror scenes were delightful, and I have absolutely fallen in love with the characters! I am so excited to read Lair of Dreams, and I can’t wait to have the mysteries solved! What is Project Buffalo? What is Will’s connection to it? Who is the man in the stovepipe hat? What’s the deal with the storm clouds and the crows and the eye in everyone’s dreams? What is Theta’s power? What is the deal with Blind Bill and why is he such a surprise jerk?! When will the Diviners unite? I NEED TO KNOW!
I’m going to start Lair of Dreams soon, and I’ll be back with another one of these. So if you haven’t read it yet, YOU SHOULD. And then you should come back here!
Evangeline O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped 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…