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Stella Matutina
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The Diviners by Libba Bray 
15th-Jan-2013 07:00 am
Cover art for The Diviners, featuring a black and white photo of New York at night overlaid with a keyhole-shaped title card. The card is comprised of a circle atop a slope-sided rectangle, with an eye inside the circle. The whole cover is in tones of blue and gold.Title: THE DIVINERS
Author: Libba Bray
Series: four sequels (or perhaps companion volumes?) will follow
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Publication Date: September 2012
Pages: 592
Status: keeper

LibraryThing Info

The Diviners for purchase at The Book Depository

The Diviners for purchase at Kobo

Free preview of The Diviners at Kobo

Review copy received at Book Expo America.

I have an odd relationship with Libba Bray’s books. We’ve spoken before of my love for GOING BOVINE, but my feelings for the Gemma Doyle books are less positive1.

THE DIVINERS, I decided, would serve as a tie-breaker (assuming a tie exists when you've loved one book and disliked three). It wouldn’t affect how I felt about the Gemma Doyle series, but perhaps it could help me decide whether I wanted to read BEAUTY QUEENS and Bray’s future releases.

And y’know what? I’m gonna read the fuck out of everything Bray publishes from hereon out.

Hell, if the rest of the Diviners books were already available, I’d be smack-dab in the middle of a feels-ridden binge of historical awesomeness.

Part of the reason I pushed that pesky 3:1 negative ratio to the side and nabbed a copy of THE DIVINERS off that large, enticing pile at BEA is that it’s about ghosts. In the 1920s. In New Frickin’ York2.

Evie’s a total rabble-rouser, thanks in part to her ability to read a person’s past from the objects they’ve handled and her inability to keep quiet about what she’s learned, so her parents ship her off to New York City to live with her Uncle Will. (Because life in New York is somehow a punishment?) Evie’s thrilled with the arrangement; she and her best NYC friend, Mabel, will party all the live-long day at Manhattan’s many cinemas, theatres, and speakeasies. And hey, if Will’s consulting work with the NYPD gives her a chance to help with a murder investigation or two (and, by extension, get her name in the papers), so much the better. These murders aren’t the work of an ordinary killer, though. Before long, Evie is enmeshed in a supernatural web stretching back fifty years--as are a surprising number of her new friends.

And it is frickin’ awesome.

Really, y’all, there were times when I felt like Libba Bray wrote THE DIVINERS just for me. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of topics that come up at one point or another:

  • ghosts

  • dreams

  • dark forces that threaten to engulf the world

  • girls with guts

  • the theatre

  • the impact of history

  • creepy-ass cults

  • houses that think for themselves

  • the fast-paced life of a 1920s flapper

  • strong friendships

  • cyborgs

  • pickpockets

  • seriously dark shit

Remember: this list is non-exhaustive. There's tons more in THE DIVINERS. Tons more.

It seems like I lot, I know--perhaps even too much--but Bray brings it all together with verve and flair. The results are thick and glorious and immersive; the sort of thing I, at least, can wallow in for hours with nary a care. It wasn’t long before the inside of my head was a great big mass of OMG THE DIVINERS OMG MUST READ MORE OH GOD OH GOD THE DIVINERS OMG.

I knew in my bones that I loved it, but I still felt like there was something... not missing, exactly, but not as present as I might have liked. As dearly as I loved the setting and the trappings and the wealth of glorious detail, I wasn’t sure I felt much for the characters. I liked them, yes, but could I truly say I cared about them? I didn’t know.

Then Bray placed one of them in mortal danger, and there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I would suffer and suffer and suffer if they were to die. And when the smoke cleared, I felt exactly the same about every other character.

That clinched that.

I can’t wait for the sequel. Bray’s website doesn’t give a release date, but her FAQ do state that THE DIVINERS is the start of a four-book series. Bring it on.

4.5 stars – loved the hell out of it

Other Reviews:

There are lots, so I'll direct you to the Book Blogs Search Engine.

Back In the Day:

  1. I’ve deliberately avoided sharing my in-depth reaction to the Gemma Doyle books on the internet because there’s enough negativity in the world and Libba Bray seems like a lovely person besides. Only, right after I picked up THE DIVINERS at BEA, I ran into a blogging friend with whom I compared the books we’d selected so far, and the subject came up. I thought I was safe because, hey, I was airing these views in public! Nothing was written down!

    About an hour later, I remembered that I was at frickin’ Book Expo America, where Libba Bray or one of her dear friends might very well be lurking in the crowd, listening to my every word. Then I felt super-duper bad.

  2. Reminder: when I like things, I swear at them. A lot. I had to remove a fair few profanities from this post, lest I overwhelm those of you who regard such things in a different light. I’ve also changed most of the non-omittable fucks to fricks, except in cases where nothing else would do.
Buffy - Historical Anya
15th-Jan-2013 07:37 pm (UTC)
You sold me with "...it’s about ghosts. In the 1920s. In New Frickin’ York."
16th-Jan-2013 08:40 pm (UTC)
Yay! I hope you love it as much as I did.
15th-Jan-2013 07:39 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed The Diviners, but that something missing you talked about? That feeling kind of stayed with me, and I was a little disappointed by the end of the book. Like the promise that was made up of all those awesome things you mentioned just wasn't quite fulfilled for me. I think I would have liked to see more of the characters involved in the ending. Or something.
16th-Jan-2013 08:41 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry you didn't find the love. My hope/expectation is that Bray held the others back because this was primarily Evie's book, and each character will jump the the forefront at different points throughout the series.
16th-Jan-2013 01:47 am (UTC)
Hm, now I'm intrigued by what's missing in this book.
16th-Jan-2013 08:41 pm (UTC)
To be clear, I didn't think anything was missing. It just took a little while to click into place for me. :)
16th-Jan-2013 02:26 am (UTC)
I really must fine time to read this!! I am so glad you liked it so much!
16th-Jan-2013 08:42 pm (UTC)
Yes, you must! It's totally cool beans.
23rd-Jan-2013 05:47 am (UTC)
*Happy sigh* Must get this book. ASAP. Good thing I have another book gift certificate to use! lol I did enjoy Bk one of Gemma Doyle series, so I was hoping this one might be good because it sounds like it should be. I am thrilled The Diviners is so very good, as it contains all the stuff in it I am interested in it too. Yaaay! I will have to wait until April to read it (the Double Dog Dare), but yes.....you've made this sound very intriguing. Thanks for the great review, Memory.
12th-Feb-2013 10:39 pm (UTC)
<3 I can't wait for the next one, now. Come out, book! Come out soon!
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