Reviews for Diviners
Booklist Reviews 2012 July #1
*Starred Review* Here's your headline, boss: "Small-Town Dame Lands in Big Apple, Goes Wild, Tries to Stop Resurrection of Antichrist." It'll sell bundles! Indeed it will, as Bray continues her winning streak with this heedlessly sprawling series starter set in Prohibition-era New York. Slang-slinging flapper Evie, 17, is "pos-i-tute-ly" thrilled to be under the wing of her uncle, who runs the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult. Business is slow (i.e., plenty of time for Evie to swill gin at speakeasies!) until the grisly arrival of what the papers dub the Pentacle Killer, who might be the reincarnation of a religious zealot named Naughty John. Even Evie's new pals--hoofers, numbers runners, and activists, but all swell kids--are drawn into the investigation. It's Marjorie Morningstar meets Silence of the Lambs, and Bray dives into it with the brio of the era, alternating rat-a-rat flirting with cold-blooded killings. Seemingly each teen has a secret ability (one can read an object's history; another can heal), and yet the narrative maintains the flavor of historical fiction rather than fantasy. The rest of the plot--well, how much time do you have? The book is big and wants to be the kind of thing you can lose yourself in. Does it succeed? It's jake, baby. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: One need only peruse Bray's track record (the Gemma Doyle Trilogy; Going Bovine, 2009; Beauty Queens, 2011) to see that the heavy promo plans and author tour are well earned. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
BookPage Reviews 2012 October
Flapper girls and phantoms
The lights and sounds of 1926 Manhattan burst to life in Printz Award-winner Libba Bray’s exciting new historical fantasy series.
When 17-year-old Evie O’Neill causes a scandal in her Ohio hometown, her parents banish her to Manhattan to live with her Uncle Will, a paranormal expert and curator at the failing Museum of the Creepy Crawlies. Evie is thrilled to sneak out to illicit nightclubs, drink “hooch” at speakeasies and drag her best friend into trouble every step of the way. When a young girl is sadistically murdered, the lead detective asks Uncle Will for help, but Evie discovers that as a Diviner (a person with supernatural abilities), she is the key to finding the killer.
Interwoven throughout Evie’s story are the lives of other Diviners. Memphis is a Harlem numbers-runner who can heal with his hands. Theta is a Ziegfeld girl with a violent gift. Sam is a hypnotic pickpocket who’s after Evie’s heart. None of them know about each other’s powers, but as the series progresses, these dynamic characters will come together to stop a growing evil.
Incredibly haunting and at times frightening, The Diviners is well researched and ambitious. The glitzy nightlife, the kitschy slang and the flapper-girl fashion all invoke the glamour of the Roaring ’20s. Readers will love Evie, a fearless and charming protagonist who lights up the book with her carefree attitude and sense of humor. This is Heroes meets the Jazz Age, and one could divine it will be the next big series in YA.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.
Read an interview with Libba Bray for The Diviners.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
Bray's lavish supernatural thriller plunks a macabre series of occult murders into the grit and gaiety of 1920s New York. Bray switches perspectives among a variety of characters, including her wisecracking likable heroine Evie, a diviner with a special connection to the spirit world. All signs point to intriguing complications and more malevolent spirits on the rise in succeeding books.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #6
Bray's lavish supernatural thriller plunks a macabre series of occult murders into the grit and gaiety of 1920s New York. Newly arrived in Manhattan, seventeen-year-old Evie O'Neill doesn't plan to fade into the woodwork. As she tells friends back home in Ohio, "I'm going to be written up in all the papers and get invited to the Fitzgeralds' flat for cocktails." The first half of this prediction comes true, but not in the way she expects. Evie's Uncle Will runs the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, a.k.a. the "Museum of Creepy Crawlies." Early on, Miss Addie, Will's eccentric elderly neighbor, recognizes that Evie is a diviner, someone with a special connection to the spirit world. Eventually Evie's more-or-less secret power to access people's memories by touching one of their possessions allows her to help Will track Naughty John, a truly eerie ritual killer who happens to have died fifty years earlier. Bray switches perspectives among a variety of characters, some of whom also have supernatural abilities: a Harlem numbers runner and poet; a world-weary Ziegfeld Follies dancer; the rakish con artist who fleeces Evie and then falls for her. At times the novel feels overstuffed with period detail, as if Bray got a little too giddy about her research. Yet wisecracking Evie is a likable heroine, and all signs point to intriguing complications and more malevolent spirits on the rise in succeeding books. christine m. heppermann Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 August #1
1920s New York thrums with giddy life in this gripping first in a new trilogy from Printz winner Bray. Irrepressible 17-year-old Evie delights in her banishment to her Uncle Will's care in Manhattan after she drunkenly embarrasses a peer in her Ohio hometown. She envisions glamour, fun and flappers, but she gets a great deal more in the bargain. Her uncle, the curator of a museum of the occult, is soon tapped to help solve a string of grisly murders, and Evie, who has long concealed an ability to read people's pasts while holding an object of their possession, is eager to assist. An impressively wide net is cast here, sprawling to include philosophical Uncle Will and his odd assistant, a numbers runner and poet who dreams of establishing himself among the stars of the Harlem Renaissance, a beautiful and mysterious dancer on the run from her past and her kind musician roommate, a slick-talking pickpocket, and Evie's seemingly demure sidekick, Mabel. Added into the rotation of third-person narrators are the voices of those encountering a vicious, otherworldly serial killer; these are utterly terrifying. Not for the faint of heart due to both subject and length, but the intricate plot and magnificently imagined details of character, dialogue and setting take hold and don't let go. Not to be missed. (Historical/paranormal thriller. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
Sparkling, sexy, and smart are words that can describe most every book by the multitalented author of the Printz Award-winning Going Bovine (2009). Add big and creepy, and you have a start on describing this first book in supernatural trilogy set in the Roaring Twenties. Ohioan Evie O'Neill thinks it's just jake when she is "banished" to the care of her distracted uncle, the curator of a New York City museum dedicated to the study of the occult. The creepy part? A series of ritual murders leads them to Naughty John, a long-dead religious fanatic who just may be trying to bring about the end of the world. Throw in a numbers runner, a wide-eyed Socialist, a follies dancer, and an early-day cyborg, and you have a one-of-a-kind setting peopled by some of the most engaging characters this (or any other) year. Most satisfyingly, while the book is clearly the start of a larger piece, the complete story arc does not leave the reader on the ledge, just hungry for more. A big book that somehow feels too short. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2013 March/April
Evie O'Neill is a free-spirited 17-year-old whose behavior causes her to be sent from small-town Zenith, Ohio, to New York City to stay with her Uncle Will. Set in the 1920s, she quickly conforms to the fast-paced lifestyle and glamorous nightlife. Uncle Will is curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult. When he is called for his expertise to assist the police investigation of a ritualistic murderer, Evie realizes her supernatural gift must be revealed to help catch the killer. A well-informed reader will appreciate the depth and accuracy of the historical references. The novel could be used for studying America right before the stock market crash. The author often provides intricate descriptions, and characters are thoroughly developed making this a very well-written novel. The book is engrossing, spooky, and thought-provoking. Because of the references to sex, rape, underage drinking, abuse, gambling, and occult rituals, it is for mature readers. Dion e Fox, Head Librarian, Hampton Roads Academy, Newport News, Virginia. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 July #5
Evie O'Neill has a neat-o party trick: she can uncover details about people by holding any object that belongs to them. After one too many tumblers of gin, she uses this skill to out the sexual misadventures of a prominent bachelor in her Ohio hometown, earning her immediate exile to Jazz Age New York City, where her professorial uncle runs a museum devoted to the occult. Naturally, Evie considers this punishment the luckiest break possible, until she realizes she's arrived just as a demon spirit has been inadvertently released. A spree of grisly murders ensues, eventually necessitating the use of Evie's special skill. Evie is fighting personal demons, as well, including the ghost of her dead older brother and a penchant for alcohol that gets her into continual trouble. Bray empties a wealth of topics into her complicated narrative--labor reform, a steampunkish robotics experiment, flapper culture, religious zealotry--but her trademark humor is less apparent. The large cast--a pickpocket with a missing mother, a Ziegfeld girl with Hollywood dreams, a Harlem numbers runner who longs to be a poet--ensures there's plenty to write about in the sequels. Ages 15-up. (Sept.) ¦ [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2012 September
Gr 10 Up--Set in 1920s New York City, this literary tour-de-force from Printz Award-winner Bray offers grand themes, complex characters, and suspense. After her secret gift for divining information from objects lands her in trouble, 17-year-old Evangeline O'Neill is sent from Ohio to live with her uncle, who runs a museum specializing in folklore and the occult in Manhattan. Evie is a quintessential flapper: not really bad, but rebellious and yearning to fly free of her Babbitt-like existence. Although she starts out her new life like the party girl she was back home, her pursuits become more serious when her uncle is asked to help solve a series of strange murders. She crosses paths with Memphis Campbell, a black numbers runner in Harlem, whose power to heal by laying on hands failed him when he tried to save his mother. Other characters include a homosexual composer who meets people in dreams, a Ziegfeld girl with a past, a pickpocket searching for his family, and a young research assistant with his own secrets. Bray develops each of these characters and their gifts, gradually bringing them together in a chilling and thrilling battle with Naughty John, a paranormal serial killer. Over the course of the novel, people (mainly good) smoke, drink, and use other illegal substances. These peccadilloes are contrasted with the values of the hellfire-and-brimstone cult that spawned Naughty John. The compelling and dramatic supernatural plot explores self-actualization, predestination, the secrets everyone hides, and, of course, good versus evil. An absolutely terrific read and, thankfully, the first in a planned series.--Nina Sachs, Walker Memorial Library, Westbrook, ME [Page 138]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
VOYA Reviews 2012 October
It is 1926, and small-town girl Evie O'Neill knows that her ability to read secrets from personal objects is dangerous. One night after too much hooch, Evie's impaired judgment causes her to reveal the truth of a town VIP, and she is sent to live with her uncle Will in New York City. At seventeen, Evie is ready to conquer the city with her enthusiastic can-do attitude, but she is distracted when Will's occult expertise is required to decipher clues in a series of ritualistic murders. As the evil spirit grows stronger, time grows shorter for Evie and her companions to devise a plan for sending the Beast back from whence it came. Densely packed with detailed information on the city's boroughs and citizens, this book could double as a travel guide for visitors newly arrived to a 1920s New York. The central story revolves around the battle of good vs. evil, with suspense built through the slow reveal of information and individual secrets. Each of the main characters represents a unique cultural background, and the secondary characters add depth to the historical context. Everyday moments and a romance or two help lighten the mood of this creepy, dark, and twisted tale of things that really do go bump in the night. Teens willing to put in the work of reading this weighty tome will be rewarded with more than a few satisfying surprises. And with the movie rights already secured, the only real question remaining is, "How long before I can read the next one?"--Stacey Hayman 5Q 4P S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.