This book was creepy and thrilling in the best kind of way. I love a good mystery thriller.
The book was far better than I originally anticipated and tremendously suspenseful for a YA novel. I’ve read the first two books of Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle series (A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels) so I’m familiar with her writing style and the publisher’s blurb of this book really drew me in. While I like her previous books, I never read the last book of the Gemma Doyle series (The Sweet Far Thing) because I just lost interest over the course of the second book.
The Diviners was Bray’s haunting writing style turned up to 11 (80’s reference – if you don’t get it, you’re probably in the target demographic for this book 🙂 ) If you’re into all things YA-paranormal, spooky, or novels about the Roaring 20’s, this is the book for you. I’d also recommend it as a lighter read for fans of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness. There were several times while reading when I was struck by how very similar the tone of the books felt, although Bray’s version is clearly for a YA audience, while Carr’s is not.
I checked out a few reviews before I purchased the ebook for my Nook, and many of the reviewers were disappointed that the “diviners” part of the plot was not more prominent. Without getting into spoilers, I will say that it was a smaller part of the plot than I expected, but I don’t think that it made the story any less enjoyable. This book is intended as the first in a new series (there was a small sneak peek of book 2 at the back of my copy) so while most of the plot is spent on the specific mystery of an occult serial killer, there is a lot of background being established at the same time. Bray’s descriptions of the killer and his house had me breaking out in goosebumps and really set the tone for the book as a whole. Some of the 1920’s slang was a little overdone (any of the words using -ski should have been nixed, in my opinion) while other times it added to the feel of the novel. I didn’t hate it, but it could certainly be refined in the coming books.
Bray chose to introduce several different characters with special “divining” abilities and the book gives you a good grasp of each of them, setting the stage for future adventures. Evie, the main character, is by turns a typical teenager and someone with a surprising gravitas, stemming from her brother’s death overseas in WWI, her rocky relationship with her parents, and the responsibility and negative consequences of her “divining” powers. My favorite characters, though, are Memphis – whose attachment to his brother is both endearing and ultimately pivotal for him – and Theta, who I think is the most realistic character in the novel – a good time girl trying to hide from her past. I’ll be very interested to see how Bray works with Sam’s story in the next book, and I hope that she includes more information about Henry (he is the only character whose backstory I think it still incomplete – other than Uncle Will, but that mystery seems to be part of the larger story arc for the series.)
Slight Spoilers Below!
I did think that the hints of “romance” at the end of the novel between Evie and Jericho were unnecessary and detracted from the story. Actually, I enjoyed the fact that Evie doesn’t just fall for Sam, and I was hoping that I could get through the whole book without and of the typical YA-romance, but it didn’t quite happen. I hope that Bray has a good idea of where she’s going with this in the second novel, because frankly I just don’t see how these sudden “feelings” fit into Evie’s character. It’s not a big enough deal that it kept me from liking the book, but it’s definitely the difference between a 4 star and a 5 star review from me.
I’ll definitely check out the next installment in this series. Does anyone else have a favorite spooky/creepy thriller novel?
Also, on Friday I got the copy of Moth and Spark from the Goodreads First Reads giveaway that I won – super fast shipping! I’ll try to post a review in the next week or so!
* You may notice that the links in this post are all to Goodreads. I purchase my books through Barnes and Noble, but I’ve been using Goodreads a lot lately to check reviews and enter the First Reads giveaways, so I thought it was appropriate to use those links here. Of course, I’m not being compensated by either company, I just like them!