May 7, 2013

The Diviners

"Naughty John, Naughty John
Does his work with his apron on..."
While reading The Diviners, this will get under your skin.  Fast.

The diviners are people with special psychic powers - healing, prophetic, invisibility, etc. - all existing in Prohibition-era New York.  The first in a series, this novel focuses primarily on Evie, a young woman who can read a person's past through their objects.  While other diviners are mentioned and play bit roles in the plot, it's really Evie's story.  Using her power resulted in scandal in her small town home, so she is sent to NY to stay with and help her uncle with his occult museum.  After a series of occult-based murders occur, they are enlisted to help with the case.

This Libba Bray novel is chock full of suspense. As the reader, you are granted a front row seat to the gruesome attacks from the victims' perspectives.  You get to experience not only their confusion and ultimate fear, but the fear of Evie and the other diviners as they put the puzzle pieces together, bit by bit.

It's a very long novel, which can be a pain (I mean this literally when you drag it to work with you on a daily basis), but not because I think teens are turned off by long works. As I found out at the end of the novel, this is the first of a series and the characters introduced here will have more developed roles in the future books.  But at times their presence seems to drag out the main focus of this novel and left me wondering if it was exposition that could have waited until the sequels.

Regardless, the characterization is strong, the action suspenseful, and the writing is engaging and very clearly well-researched.  I was hesitant going into this novel because I had previously tried reading Bray's Going Bovine and couldn't bring myself to finish.  But this novel kept me interested from start to end. I highly recommend this novel for people who like well-developed thrillers and mysteries and/or people looking for suspense, paranormal plots, or historical fiction.  While the novel (and probably series as a whole) has many mystery elements, it's not a typical whodunnit type of thriller, so be wary of giving this out to someone looking for a fast mystery (the almost 600 pages will also probably clue the reader into it not being a fast mystery).


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  2. I loved this one. I didn't have an issue with its length, mostly because I read it on my nook so didn't have to deal with the physical weight and heft of it. I can't wait for the sequel; personally, I enjoyed all the forays into the other characters' lives and thought it gave me just enough of a taste to look forward to the continuation of the series.

    Side note, I realized afterward who the man at the crossroads is... he has been showing up in a lot of my reading recently, as a matter of coincidence. (Or maybe not.)

    1. The physical weight was the worst for me, mainly because I can only get through the gym if I'm reading simultaneously, and it was probably hilarious to see me holding that book on the elliptical. I couldn't find it available as an ebook or audiobook at my library, so I had to go with print. I definitely enjoyed the other characters, I was just too impatient (and my arms hurt) and wanted to know what was going on with Evie.

      That's awesome about the man at the crossroads showing up in your recent reading!

      And for my sidenote: I have a student who powers through books and she's read practically everything. She'll check out a book and return it the next day. I gave her the Diviners thinking that it would buy me a few days to think of some more recommendations for her, but she finished it in one night. I couldn't believe it.