The Diviners by Libba Bray
Murders, touch of creepy horror, the supernatural, 1920s New York flappers and hype. Everything that isn’t really my thing all packed into one book. Yet, something drew me to it. Yes, the cover is gorgeous and Libba Bray had caught my eye (hee!) I’d not read any of her work before but somewhere along the way she’d made it onto my lists of authors and novels to look out for.
A huge 600 hundred pager hardback arrived. I wondered what I’d let myself in for…..
|The Diviners - Libba Bray|
Evie O’Neill has style, she flaunts it and is the bad girl in small-town Ohio. But she’s also a diviner who can read the history of an object by holding it. This gets her into too much tongue-wagging, finger-pointing trouble and her middle class American parents can’t bear it anymore. So she’s shipped (railed?) off to her uncle who runs a museum about ghosts and other unusual things in New York. New York!! Evie can’t believe her luck. But her lucks lands her in the middle of a ghastly murder hunt.
The Diviners has a whole cast of characters and Libba Bray takes her time with the plot to flesh some of them out. I think plenty of people will fall in love with Evie O’Neill. She’s beautiful, stylish, selfish and quick-tongued if not quite quick-witted. But it was Memphis Campbell’s story that grabbed me and I was disappointed that it didn’t develop as much as I thought it would. And it could have – there were 578 pages. But the plot wasn’t fast-paced and the ‘divining’ stories that were developing around the main plot (finding a cult murderer) made this novel feel a bit like a TV pilot episode. It might have something to do with this book being the first in a planned series..... But, the main storyline does come to a satisfactory close although there is plenty left planted but not yet sprouting.
For me, it was the other divining stories that point to a bigger story in the main plot which I wanted to see develop: “The storm is coming, the storm is coming”. Libba Bray packs a host of American history and democracy into the web that she spins and draws in religious cults, the KKK, hot and cold wars, and secret special projects too. I wanted to know more about this rather than the murder story.
The dialogue is littered with one-liner after one-liner to a point that should be exhausting. But somehow, it isn’t and there is plenty of other prose to carry you away. Libba Bray is a fine storyteller.
If you’re into a good story and can cope with the gruesome (I can’t, but that’s me), this could be a series worth following. Just like Evie, The Diviners has style – and it flaunts it.
Publication details:Atom, September 2012, London, hardback
This copy: received for review from the publisher