Title: The Diviners (The Diviners #1) by Libba Bray
Published: December 3, 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: ★★★★★ 5/5
Content warnings: heavy alcohol consumption, underage drinking, smoking, animal abuse, animal death (more content warnings can be found here, these are just the ones I remember).
One sentence summary: Probably the best YA Fantasy I’ll listen to this year.
A young woman discovers her mysterious powers could help catch a killer in the first book of The Diviners series–a stunning supernatural historical mystery set in 1920s New York City, from Printz Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray.
Evangeline O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and sent off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far.
When the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer. As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfurl in the city that never sleeps. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened….
Let me preface this by saying that it’s been on my TBR for literal years but I didn’t expect to love it this much. I also highly recommend this book in audiobook form. I’m not sure I would’ve enjoyed it as much if I read it physically.
It’s also pretty long but I read audiobooks at 2x speed so that’s why I might be referring to this book as going by very fast. To me, it was a very quick read.
Alright now let’s get into the details.
The quality of the narration and audio was superb. Honestly, January LaVoy did amazing with the different voices and the bits of singing that were sprinkled in. I rarely had any trouble differentiating between the Diviners when POVs switched, and the narrator did a great job with bringing each character fully alive through their voice.
Listening to this made it 10x spookier, I swear. I literally jumped at certain scenes—I felt like such a scaredy-cat. This is definitely a creepy book, and if you’re looking for a bit of pre-Halloween fun, I recommend listening to this at your place, alone, in the dark. I was tweaking for a good few chapters and had to make a strict “read in daylight” policy.
I was hooked from page one. As the stakes got higher I grew more and more invested. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Being an avid paranormal fantasy reader, I tend to get a bit bored by plots of books now. My assumption was that since this book is a few years old, it wouldn’t surprise or enrapture me the same way it has all of my fellow bookworms who’ve praised it for years. I’m so glad I was wrong.
The intricate plot was laid down and I could feel that there was ten more layers left to discover. I’ve never been so ready for a sequel. The supernatural elements mixed in with the crime investigation troupe made for a very entertaining read. Every new thread being woven into this plot felt solid and enjoyable, pulling me in and wrapped me around until I was utterly sucked into the world.
I’ve already touched on the world building but I have to say that this book felt so well researched with everything from the clothing and settings to the language. I’ve read other recent releases set in the 1920s but they relied heavily on repetition of a few phrases and common pop culture items. The Diviners had the perfect amount of historic accuracy to make my heart happy.
Libba Bray’s writing was so descriptive and flowed perfectly. I was never taken out of the setting for a second as the story progressed. The sheer talent that Bray demonstrates through her writing is outstanding.
I loved Evie from the start, and almost every character that was introduced after. Sam completely stole my heart and the side characters like Theta and Mabel. If you know me you know I love a love triangle and the tension between the three unnamed characters was everything!!
There were some moments where I wish Bray spent more time developing certain characters or scenes but overall I loved the whole cast immensely. Definitely how I felt when I met the Crows for the first time.
Loved this book. Probably enjoyed it more because of the narration. Libba Bray did no wrong in The Diviners and I still can’t believe that my first read of 2021 became one of my favorite fantasies of all time???
Ahh but anyway, if you haven’t read this yet I highly recommend the audiobook! I will say that I was surprised by a few things in this book and would check out the trigger warnings before reading. It was creepy and fun and completely enchanting.
And that’s that. I took forever to write this review but I loved this book too much and had to sit on my feelings for half the year lol.
If you’ve read The Diviners I’d love to hear your thoughts! Who’s your favorite character? Your favorite ship?
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