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Review: The Diviners October 22, 2012

Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.
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Do NOT read this book at bedtime. You will have nightmares. Read this book in the daytime instead.

I will admit that it has taken me quite awhile to join the Libba Bray fan parade. I could never get into her Gemma Hardy series and I don’t think I even opened her Printz-winning Going Bovine (while mad-cow disease isn’t the sort of thing to catch my attention, it probably didn’t help that I REALLY wanted another book, Marcelo in the Real World, to win that particular award). But I was assured by librarians I trust that I would not be disappointed by her latest series opener, The Diviners. And they were right.

The year is 1926. The place is New York City, where everyone searching for something or trying to hide a secret. Everyone except Evie O’Neill, who is determined to enjoy herself after being packed off to her uncle in the city after getting a little too wild for her Ohio town. Evie is ambitious, and sure that she is destined for great things and fun times. She is also aware that she is, in her own words ‘the careless sort’–rushing into things without considering the consequences. Over the course of several months, these two sides of Evie will be on full display as she meets all kinds of people and learns more about an odd supernatural talent.

Bray takes the reader along with Evie on her whirlwind tour of the city–everywhere from nightclubs to jail cells, Coney Island to Harlem. The point of view jumps around; chapters focus not just on Evie, but on pick-pocket Sam, poet Memphis, showgirl Theta and Will’s assistant Jacob. These shorthand identifiers make each main character sound like a cardboard cutout, but the marvel is how Bray makes each of them memorable in just a few short pages. By the end of the 578 pages, there are still mysteries about most of the characters to be solved and Bray drops a few huge hints about who might have a more prominent role in the next two books.

Learn more about Libba Bray in this interview at The Horn Book and find The Diviners at your local library or independent bookstore!

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