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3/5: The Diviners

The Diviners - Libba Bray

(Book one of four)

Evie O’Neill is sent from her boring rural town after pushing the limits of her 1920s lifestyle too far. She’s sent to her uncle in Manhattan, a 1926 Manhattan alive with parties and socialising and handsome men, a place full of possibilities, where anything can happen…including a supernatural serial killer.

This is book one of four, and boy-howdy-diddly does it feel like it. Bray constantly shoves the main plot aside to introduce as many characters as she can, jamming them all in. Most of them are “Diviners” with a specialised supernatural talent (Evie can pick images from objects, Isiah can see the future, and so on). The problem is, there’s very little interaction at this stage between them, just passing tangents, a dozen plot lines opened but not closed. The main push of the story – Evie against the serial killer – is side-lined for far too long, and the pace slackens to a crawl. A slow crawl.

On the plus side, Bray has done her research, and the book soars with the details, from the language to the dress and the casual references to the stars and society of the day. It feels like 1926, right down to the smallest detail.

One of the problems with writing a young adult book set in the past is the amount of exposition you can drop in; stop and explain what a “Victriola” is, or just press on? Bray chooses the second option, then weaves in details to keep us in the loop. The world is very real, as are the characters, with dialogue that shines with wit and quick-fire humour.

It’s a good book which could have been a great book, but I won’t be coming back for book two. I don’t expect the plot to get any faster (and a review I’ve seen confirmed it), so I’ll be getting off here. Thanks for the ride.