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-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.
Hardcover, 608 pages
Expected publication: September 18th 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Three and a half stars: A complex mystery set in the roaring twenties!
Evie wakes with a pounding headache. It was another night of partying and drinking for the seventeen year old. Evie is young, headstrong and rebellious. Her antics at last night's party got her in a bit of hot water with her parents. While intoxicated, she used her secret divination skills and revealed some scandalous tidbits on one of the rich boys. Now her parents are disappointed and demanding she apologize. Evie refuses to back down because she knows she spoke the truth, even though she can't admit to her parents that she receives flashes of people's pasts when she touches a personal item. Finally in exasperation, her father decides to send her to New York to stay with her uncle until the storm blows over. Evie is thrilled to be headed to New York! For an adventurous girl like herself, it is the perfect chance to escape small town Ohio and take in the sights and sounds of the big city with its wicked night life, flappers, booze, speakeasies, night clubs and more. Yet, there is something wicked and wrong on the wind in Manhattan. An old evil has returned and a killing spree has begun. Across the city people are experiencing more paranormal activity than ever. Evie finds herself smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation, along with her uncle. There is definitely something bad coming....Can Evie and Uncle Will find out who is behind the depraved murders?
What I Liked:
- First and foremost, I adored the setting. Ms. Bray takes us back to the pinnacle of the roaring twenties. This book is set in 1926, when flappers and illegal booze reigned. It is a time of wicked abandon. I know that a tremendous amount of research went into creating this historical setting. I was astounded at the detail and the extent that Ms. Bray went through in order to bring us Manhattan in the twenties. One of my favorite aspects was the way she captured and brought to us all the phrases and slang that were pertinent to this period. I loved learning all the jargon that was in vogue for the youth of this era. It was so different and fun.
- Ms. Bray spends a great deal of time carefully creating her characters in this book. You really get to know them and after awhile many feel like old friends. Evie by far was my favorite. At seventeen she is a handful. She is the epitome of a roaring twenties flapper girl. She drinks and parties and lives life in the fast lane. This girl is enthusiastic, brash, unapologetic and full of life. I admit, at first I felt she was a bit obnoxious. This girl is something else, but as the novel progresses I fell in love with her. I admire a girl with so much spunk and sass, especially in a time when girls were slowly starting to unchain themselves from all the cumbersome ladylike expectations that held women hostage for centuries. It was fun to follow a girl who has a penchant for trouble! By the end of the book, Evie does show some growth and gains some maturity! I can't wait to see how she continues to develop, in the next book.
- I liked the building of tension and how it strengthens the atmosphere. This book hints at all the dark things that are to come. Trouble hangs thick on the wind and something bad is coming. A looming specter stalks the country and in its wake is the rise of the Diviners and paranormal activity. The ones who can foresee the future sense danger. This book ends on the promise of many dark days to come.
- This book does not feature a romance. There are some sparks between some of the characters, but the romantic theme is for the most part absent until the final pages where two characters surprisingly come together. I liked that the romance caught me off guard and was not revealed until the final pages.
- At the heart of this book is a dark murder mystery that at times is very haunting and chilling.
And The Not So Much:
- This is a hefty book. It comes in at just under six hundred pages. It starts of exciting, but then it drags a bit. My biggest complaint is that a good portion of this book is focused in introducing the Diviners and laying an enormous framework for what feels like an epic series. The story gets very complex and there are many, many varied story lines going on. At times it is a lot to keep track of, especially because many of the characters and plot lines that start in this one don't even get going. So many of the characters, while interesting, they don't end up contributing to the main story. The only purpose for introducing them was to set them up to build upon in the next book. The problem with this tactic is that it really bogs down the book and by the time the next book is released in a year or whenever, the reader will have forgotten so many of the small details that were presented in this book and will surely be relevant in the continuing books. Honestly, this one feels like the beginning of an big saga.
- This book presents multiple view points. I enjoyed this aspect and then I didn't. Sometimes the shift in narration was jarring and left me wondering how this view point was going to fit into the main theme, and often times it didn't tie in at all. There is one shift that takes the reader back in time rather unexpectedly, while it becomes clear later in the book why this view point was brought forth, when it occurs it is disruptive. Presenting so many voices and story lines makes for a complex read. If you are not a fan of multiple view points, this one won't work for you. As for me, I liked many of the characters, but most of the time I wanted to be back in Evie's shoes as she was my favorite.
- The Diviners is being marketed as a Young Adult title. This is one where I seriously question the classification. There are some very dark and evil scenes involving the murderer and the victims. Nothing is extremely graphic, but it is definitely at times very creepy. Furthermore, the complexity of the overall story is going to be above the average, casual young adult reader. This should really be an adult title. I can't see it appealing to younger readers.
- The ending ties off nicely as it follows through and completes the main murder mystery, but there are so many lingering questions. I can say that this is a title that you should read closer to the release of the next book because there is so much information in this one that it will be hard to keep everything straight and current in your mind. I am grateful that it isn't a cliffhanger, but the ending is very open.
The Diviners is a complex introduction to what I am sure is going to be an epic series. This book presents many characters and ideas that will be expanded upon in the next volumes. Ms. Bray does a phenomenal job of taking us back to the roaring twenties, a time of decadence and indulgence before the dark days of the Depression. Her engaging characters and masterful story telling will keep you flipping pages well past bed time.
"Fashionable debutantes in pastel chiffon party dresses wilt into leather club chairs like frosted petit fours melting under a July sun."
"Prohibition? I drink to its health whenever I can."
"I thought that research would be more glamourous, somehow. I'd give the librarian a secret code and he'd give me the one book I needed and whisper the necessary page numbers. Like a speakeasy. With books."
"A week later they'd received the horrible telegram that James was dead, and her family had been broken and taped back together, a posed photograph kept behind fractured glass."
"But Memphis's kiss was nothing like theirs. It was passionate, yet tender. A mutual agreement of desire. It was a kiss shared. He was kissing her. He was with her."
Quotes are courtesy of an ARC copy, they may differ from the final copy. I received a copy of this book courtesy of ATWT. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.