Sometimes it takes a little while for me to warm up to a book, and suddenly I’m surprised to find that I’m really enjoying it. This was definitely the case with The Diviners, a chilling supernatural murder mystery by Libba Bray. It begins at a raucous flapper party in the 1920s, where Evie is showcasing her gift (a “party trick”): she can see into someone’s past simply by holding one of their possessions. I have to admit, I was skeptical at first: language and writing style emulated what I imagined might have been en vogue in the roaring ’20s, so I was a bit worried that the dialogue and setting might distract (or worse, might turn out to be really unconvincing). Instead, I was totally hooked by the second chapter. This isn’t a book for kids or younger teens, so read no further if you don’t want to get spooked!
At this particular party the young, carefree, and intoxicated group decides to take advantage of Evie’s talents to entertain themselves. Unfortunately, Evie doesn’t know when to hold her tongue, and makes the wrong person angry. After an unpleasant confrontation with her parents, Evie is shipped off to New York City to spend a few months with her Uncle Will, who owns a museum of strange, occult curiosities. He knows nothing of her gift, but it soon becomes clear that they have become embroiled in a string of grisly murders and that somehow, they must work together to stop the killer. Meanwhile…
“Deep in the cellar of the dilapidated house, a furnace comes to life with a death rattle like the last bitter cough of a dying man laughing contemptuously at his fate. A faint glow emanates from that dark, foul-smelling earthen tomb. Yes, something moves again in the shadows. A harbinger of much greater evil to come.”
What commences is a wonderfully engrossing supernatural murder mystery. The Diviners’ New York City is the perfect stage: lush excess lives in stark contrast to death and decay, and there are plenty of interesting characters who emerge from the woodwork as the search for the killer deepens. I grew to love Libba Bray’s vivid descriptions and her ability to create an atmosphere that drew me in and kept me there. I actually shuddered at some of the scenes (which is why I say that this is not a book for kids). The Diviners is a well-written thriller with a very scary edge.
As Valerie said about Sarah Rees Brennan’s Unspoken, I was both disappointed and excited that there was a cliff-hanger at the end. Yep, The Diviners will be a series, and there were certainly no happy resolutions at the close of this first installment. It has the potential to be a very good set of books; with a number of side-characters with hazy pasts (all of whom I found intriguing, which is no small feat), there are lots of places the story could go.
Want to see more? Watch the creepy book trailer here.