Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly 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. But 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 unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.
I’m one of those people who doesn’t read blurbs. Most of the time when I pick up a book I only have a vague impression of what it’s actually about. I knew two things going into The Diviners. The first, and perhaps one of the main reasons I wanted to read it, was the 1920’s New York setting. The second was that it involved some sort of paranormal element. Although I knew it would be good, I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. Especially as there were times it scared the pants off me!
Firstly, this book is long, at about 570 pages. Personally, the length didn’t bother me because I enjoyed being able to savour it. I think the story benefited from being told from all angles with such a large cast of characters. This is the first in a series and I think Bray did a wonderful job of setting up a connection with characters and issues which will no doubt play a major role down the track. I know a lot of people will disagree with me about this, but I loved the depth of this novel.
I absolutely adored the 1920’s setting. Bray does an outstanding job of transporting audiences to New York’s glitzy, glamourous and pos-i-tute-ly roaring Gatsby-esque parties as well as exposing the seedy, occult underbelly of the city. Bray’s exquisite prose made the setting so strong and present throughout that it became a character in its own right.
The Diviners follows several bright young things through the streets of the thriving city as their stories are slowly drawn closer. Although there was a cast of fabulous, compelling characters, the focus of The Diviners was on Evie. I loved her bold, brash character and the verve with which she faced the Naughty John mystery. In this respect she reminded me a lot of a young Phryne Fisher. I also liked that Bray didn’t shy away from exposing the weaknesses and fears of her characters. I can’t wait to find out even more about each of their stories in the next 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.”
Naughty John is actually one of the most chilling characters I’ve ever come across – although this may be because I am not one for scary (or, let’s be honest, even mildly creepy) movies . However, what made the ‘creepiness’ of The Diviners different from that of Raven’s Gate (my only other ‘scary’ book review) was that it came in bursts. Reading Raven’s Gate, I was constantly fearful of what was to come and I must say I was pleased there were some shiny distractions in The Diviners. Yes, I’ll admit there were a few times I had to stop reading this at night, but on the whole I felt the ‘scare factor’ was measured and never too overwhelming.
The Diviners is a book you should indulge in. Yes, it’s long, but holy smokes is it worth it! Bray has crafted a stunning picture of New York in the roaring 20’s with a superb cast of characters and a bone-chilling mystery. This unique and pos-i-tute-ly divine novel is certainly one of my favourite reads this year.
“Hey,” the cabbie yelled. “How’s about a tip?”
“You bet-ski,” Evie said, heading toward the old Victorian mansion, her long silk scarf trailing behind her. “Don’t kiss strange men in Penn Station.”
And what would this review be without music to match?
This book was read as part of the judging of the 2013 Inky Awards.