The Diviners by Libba Bray
The Diviners (The Diviners #1), by Libba Bray • ★★★★ • Goodreads
I was recommended this book by the awesome Asti at Oh, The Books! in her Bookish Mail feature!Mild spoilers ahead!
How do I summarize my reading experience of The Diviners in a sentence? It's one big, crazy adventure. I'm glad Asti recommended it because I wouldn't have read it otherwise. I skipped it over at the library once, before her recommendation, because despite it being on my to-read pile, the size of it puts me off. But now, I have read it! And enjoyed it even!
When I first started The Diviners, I didn't like Evie. At all. But I decided not to judge her so quickly (I mean, 59 pages is too early right?) so I soldiered on. At the end of The Diviners, I still didn't like her. Surprise, surprise! I guess her character just doesn't sit well with me. Her loudness, her idea of fun, her stepping over one line too many to get what she wants. But maybe it's just a thing about New York? And 1920s? Or maybe even because of what happened to her brother? I felt so bad for Mabel and couldn't imagine their friendship -- it was as though Mabel only had Evie for a friend so that's why she stuck to her. I just didn't like her but then, I also didn't hate her or anything like that. I have a relationship of "I don't want to have anything to do with you" with Evie.
So how did I manage to like a book when I didn't enjoy the protagonist? Well, The Diviners employed the use of various points of views extremely well. In addition, the following rhyme that lured the curious cat in me further and further into the book.
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...
Deliciously creepy, isn't it? I wish I knew the tune for it. Does anyone know if the audiobook version has the rhyme in it not spoken but whistled? That would be so creepily awesome!
The Diviners' world was built fantastically well. Bray had a very specific place set for it and she did her research, as she mentioned in her acknowledgements. I tried looking for the bibliography but didn't manage to find it, as did several others who are just as curious as I am. Oh well!
I think what made me really enjoy The Diviners is the multitude of people in it. The characters are varied, in colour, in religion, in personalities. It wouldn't be overly flamboyant of me to describe the plot thickening and exploding like a beautiful firework. Bray introduces the reader to each character slowly, easing you into the situation and makes you feel as if each one is its own entity, but then! She feeds you the secrets of each person and then you try to piece them together but you may not guess it right each time, which is brilliant because I enjoy surprises.
Ultimately, while The Diviners itself is a great book that you can read on its own if you aren't bothered by the open-ended finish since the arc is actually closed. Or at least, that's the idea it gave me. BUT, it also left me with a lot of questions and I would love more information on the different characters! For example...
01. William Fitzgerald incident with his fiancée
02. Blind Bill Johnson's backstory
03. Theta Knight's powers
04. Henry DuBois' backstory (so alluring!)
05. Margeret Walker & Will's relationship
06. Sam Llyod's mother
07. The mysterious Chinese girl (I'm sorry if she had a name that I don't remember because her appearances are SO brief)
08. Arthur Brown
09. Miss Adelaide & Miss Lillian (dude, that last scene of them disemboweling the poor creature!)
I'm sure that's not the end of my list. I'm super curious about Sam and the Chinese girl especially. Oh, and Henry! I will definitely be reading the sequel, Lair of Dreams, except that it's about as thick as The Diviners. It seems that I have become quite an impatient reader... that will require some fixing.
A word of caution though: It seems like we may enjoy some four- or five- sided romance in the next book? Let me just list them out for clarity.
i. Evie and Jericho (established)
ii. Mabel and Jericho (one-sided from Mabel)
iii. Evie and Sam (questionable friendship)
iv. Mabel and Arthur (unclear intentions of Arthur)
Are we having fun yet? Ha! I only hope Bray balances it out as good as she did in The Diviners, because it's enjoyable though I really appreciate the supernatural dreams and such more than romance.
P.S. While I quite like the cover for The Diviners, the cover for Lair of Dreams is really terrible. I don't know any gentler way that I can put it...