Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Liar of dreams

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.


Nowadays, it’s a bit difficult to find a book with a truly original idea. I’ve read a couple that took little snippets from other authors, which annoyed me because I wanted a taste of something new. The Diviners by Libba Bray was definitely what I was searching for.

One day, I found this creepy quote on Tumblr that originated from the novel:

“Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on. Cuts your throat and takes your bones, sells ’em off for a coupla stones.”

I wondered who was this Naughty John and why is he so hostile? What kind of book would harbor such a creepy verse?

I just had to find out.

After I finished, I loved it.  Libba Bray’s choice of writing in third person narration was perfect. As the reader, I watched from the sidelines the world full of mysteries come to life. When she would describe new surroundings, she would start with the main objects then continue on to add smaller details so you could get a vivid image in our head. I had read way too many novels where the author would throw multiple random descriptions about the setting to the point I gave up even trying to visualize it. So I say well done Ms. Bray.

With a writer who can describe settings properly, she could definitely create a uniquely dark blend of characters. Jericho and his hybrid self. Theta and her abusive past. And Evangeline “Evie” O’Neill, my favorite spicy cinnamon heart. She was too damn special to fit in her hometown of Zenith, Ohio. I could relate to her on a slightly different level because I understood how it felt being unable to belong. I had been surrounded by people who never had the same interests and was terribly antisocial for an early part of my childhood. And what made me especially happy was that Evie found her home in New York, which inspires me to continue searching for people who I can actually connect to.

Let me just say the plot was freaking awesome! People with powers? A supernatural killer? Ominous warnings of the end approaching? I think horror is my new favorite genre. Plus, I witnessed a new perspective on the world of religion. I’ll use this quote as an example:

“Why did he take her eyes!” Evie asked

He might be keeping them as a souvenirs.”

Evie made a face. “A pinwheel from Coney Island is a souvenir, Unc.”

“To us, yes. To a madman? Perhaps not. But he might need them in same way for the ritual. Some cultures believe that ingesting the flesh of your victim makes you immortal. The Aghori of India eat the flesh of the dead in belief that it confers supernatural powers, whereas members of the Algonquin tribe believe that anyone who eats human flesh will become a demonic spirit called the Wendigo.”

Evie’s stomach turned. “Well, there’s nothing in the Bible about holy cannibalism.”

“Transubstantiation?” Jericho asked.”‘Eat of my body, drink of my blood?”

“Right,” Evie conceded. “I’ll certainly never feel the same way about Communion again.

Do you now have an idea of what I meant? You can learn a lot about religion in this book and I’m impressed by how much research must have been done.

All I had a problem with was the slang which a bit confusing and the parts of the book where it would just drag along. Otherwise, I highly suggest reading The Diviners by Libba Bray if you enjoy historical fiction, horror, and fantasy ingeniously mixed into one.


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