THE DIVINERS (Diviners #1)
Paranormal Young Adult
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Received from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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-toot-ly thrilled. New York is
the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie
is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The
only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The
Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as
"The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."
When a rash of occult-based
murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the
investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious
power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn't catch her first.
The Diviners is a sprawling paranormal murder mystery, one that features a large cast of very unique characters all linked through special abilities that mark them as different from the world around them. Ms. Bray shows exemplary skill in crafting an extremely intricate story, each of the many characters having their own fascinating history we can’t help but want to learn more about, and we’re given just enough to feel as though we have a grasp, however tenuous, of who they are even as we’re continually teased with parts of them that remain just beyond our reach. While we’re intrigued by the possible connections between the many and varied characters, we’re more immediately unnerved by the presence of a sinister being slowly slaughtering his way through New York City, the hairs on the back of our necks standing on end as the murderer’s soon-to-be victims are given chapters of their own, allowing us to bear witness to their final moments and ratcheting up our desire to see a true monster come face to face with lady Justice.
Evie is the main protagonist though she shares the spotlight with Memphis, Jericho, Theta, Sam and a handful of others, earning herself a one-way ticket to New York City when she drunkenly shows off her gift at a party. Initially she’s a bit of a challenge, seemingly only interested in drinking, partying, and making sure other people know her name; a fame she often achieves by selfishly and stupidly revealing her talent despite having lived through the consequences of her actions many times before. When best friend Mabel finally calls her on her behavior, Evie becomes someone we can support, taking what was said to heart and making a valiant attempt to allow the scope of her gaze to include other people besides herself. She tones down the need for attention, and works with her Uncle Will, Jericho, and Sam to solve a spectacularly disturbing case, showing off an intelligence previously hidden by poor decision making, and a determination previously hidden by a bored party-girl façade.
Memphis, Jericho, Theta, and Sam all play roles of a similar size in this story, their histories briefly illuminated for us so we can see that amidst their differences and their separate lots in life is a shining thread of supernatural similarity. Through several smaller secondary characters we know a prophetic call to action for all of them is coming, the need for them to unite in the ensuing days crystal clear, though the purpose for their future unification remains cloaked in uncertainty. There is a tiny touch of romance worked in, but it remains a background element to the dual mystery of the killer and the Diviners themselves, and while the romance between Evie and Jericho is of particular interest given Jericho’s tragic past, things don’t even begin to heat up for them until the concluding chapters of this nearly 600 page tale. Still, the first hook has been cast at the end of this first installment, and we’re easily caught, desperate for just a little more time with them now that we’ve had a taste.
Overall, The Diviners impresses with an astounding attention to detail and a masterful handling of a wide variety of characters and subplots, though it’s important to know going in that while many of the cards in Ms. Bray’s hand are shown, very few are actually played in this first book. Many a plot thread is left swinging in the breeze by the time we reach the last page, the rather terrifying mystery of the murderer wrapped up nicely but the larger arc surrounding those known as Diviners is really just beginning.
Please come back tomorrow as I'll have a very fun character interview with Theta to share with all of you!