Official Stuff –
Author – Libba Bray
Pages – 592
Series – The Diviners Series
Publisher – Little, Brown Books
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.”
When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.
My Rating – 3 ¾ stars
Set in the 1920s, Evie O’Neill is a live out loud flapper girl from small town Ohio. She lives to drink and dance and kiss random boys. She also has a secret ability that she sometimes uses as a party trick; which is what gets her in trouble in Ohio. She reveals a dirty secret about the town golden boy and as punishment her parents send her to NYC to live with her uncle Will. (Umm, I’m from Ohio. Being sent to NYC is in no way a punishment.)
In NYC she meets Sam Lloyd, who steals a kiss and twenty dollars from her; Jericho a strange, quiet boy who is her uncle’s ward and assistant; Mabel who lives in her uncle’s building, and pines for Jericho from a distance; Theta and Henry, performers in Ziegfield’s Follies (a famous theater performance in the 20s. Think Catherine Zeta Jones character from Chicago); and Memphis Campbell a wannabe poet/numbers runner from Harlem. You also meet about a dozen other characters that have small roles.
Shortly after Evie arrives in NYC, there’s a brutal murder of a young girl that has some occult significance and the police ask Uncle Will for help deciphering the strange symbols. Evie worms her way into the investigation and discovers there may be more to her ability than just a party trick. She’s a Diviner. Soon they realize they are dealing with a serial killer. The other characters (maybe also Diviners?) and their stories begin to intertwine.
This book was seriously creepy. It had a Stephen King-esque feel to it. The characterizations were great, giving even the smallest character a history and a distinct personality. This book is the first in a four book series and though the serial killer plot is taken care of in this book, there are so many unanswered questions in this book. There’s an open ending that really seems more like a series arc than just the plot for the second book. Also, no love triangle! There is barely any romance at all. There is a hint that there may possibly be a triangle in future books but it’s so minuscule and has nothing to do with the plot so I’m totally good with it.
What I didn’t like about the book? The Stephen King-esque feel. I’ve seen no mention of Libba Bray saying King is a writing influence but I bet my Harry Potter Legos that he is. At one point a boy tells his father that two girls are asking him to “come play with them” in a cornfield. Actually, add in a disturbing sex scene and I never would have guessed it wasn’t a King novel. Not that I don’t love King, (I do, one of my fav authors ever) but if I want to read a King book, I’ll read a King book, get what I mean?
This book could have cut out around 100 pages and still be a great, well told story. The chapters are generally small, giving snippets to POVs of the all the characters, including the murder victims, the murderer and even, of the wind. I felt like some of it was overkill and some chapters didn’t feel central to the plot.
Finally, the author gets an A++ for historical accuracy; mentioning real places, groups, and people, and also using plenty of 20’s slang (though sometimes reading the banter felt like I was reading the script to a SNL skit set in the 20s.)
Overall, a decent book with flaws that I am willing to let go because I am so damn curious to see how the things mentioned in the ending plays out.