Friday, September 21, 2012

Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

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The Diviners
Libba Bray
Series: Diviners, #1
Publication date: September 18th 2012Β 
by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

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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.

*A copy was provided by Hachette Book Group Canada for review purposes*

Phew. Finishing this book feels like an achievement. At a whopping 600 pages, The Diviners is a an exercise in arm strength to simply read it, but it’s absolutely worth it. Work those arms people! Historical novels not being my thing, I was a bit concerned that I was getting into a monster of a book that would bore me to death. I had nothing to worry about, however, when only with a few mere pages, Libba had created an intensely creepy and atmospheric setting that promised to disturb, to captivate, and to enchant me for pages and pages and pages and pages to come.

This book is creepy to the nth degree. It sent chills up my spine and kept them there from start to finish. The setting being the main reason for the perpetual eerie feeling. The fact that it’s a historical is actually what I ended up enjoying the most about the setting, which really surprises me. Dealing with an age old serial killer and an ancient sinister mansion that becomes a character in and of itself, the fact that the book is set in an age where religion is rampant, and technology is, well… not, makes it all the more poignant. Cults, rituals, demonic presences, it’s simply not something we hear much about in modern times, yet it’s so much more eerie; so much more disturbing than any horror movie with flashy effects we have nowadays. I guess haunted houses were scarier when you couldn’t Facebook about it.

Libba’s immaculate writing style also plays a big hand in the exquisite atmosphere this novel dishes out. Everything is tremendously vivid; I could feel the wind passing through to settle in this creaky house, I could picture New York City in all its 1920s glory – the theatre, the speakeasies, everything -, I was taken by the fabulously old school language to a time before I was even put on this earth, yet it was as if I had been there. Then, we weave in a cast of characters that is so full of life with spunk and energy. Really, it’s a work of art!

Witty, snarky, and pos-i-tute-ly charming, Evie is a wonderful protagonist; a perfection for this type of novel. The book is clearly very long. It’s filled with literary and cultural references, and can be slow paced at first while it begins to carefully weave in infinite substance until it’s exploding with facts, details, and fascinating story lines. It can be hard to take all of this in, especially if you’re not big on historicals like myself – I did have to take a break for a couple of days to read something a little bit more easier on the intellect – but when you mix in Evie’s large personality, you won’t be able to get enough of her! She lightens up the air perfectly. We get a dash of humor, some amusing banter, and a personality that makes her thoroughly loveable. She softens this sometimes weighty novel quite marvelously.

After not being a fan of her Gemma Doyle series when I tried to read it years ago, I am happy that I was not disappointed with this one. In fact, it quite exceeded my personal expectations of it. I think those with a passion for historical mysteries and paranormal horrors will definitely be thrilled to find everything they’re looking for, and more, inside The Diviners.

4 Hot Espressos

US vs UK Cover
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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32 Responses to “Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray”

  1. Christina

    I’m reading this one pretty soon. Gemma Doyle books were boring to me as well when I read the first one in 2008. Glad to hear you also thought so but that this wasn’t. YAY!

  2. Senator

    AHHHHHH!! So if I wasn’t already chomping at the bits to get my hands on this book, your wonderful review has quite frankly put my over the edge. It has been decide. Next week I shall conquer the Diviners!!

  3. Amy

    I’m glad to see that you liked this! I just got it in the mail the other day from Little Brown (what an awesome surprise!) and am super excited to read it. I had requested it back in like July so I figured I wouldn’t get it. I am a bit intimidated by the size of it, but since we are soulmates and you really enjoyed it, I know I will!! Awesome review as always babe!

  4. Andra Lyn

    I’m a little torn. I really loved a few of Libba’s books but…600 pages? That’s a big task…lol. But I gotta love those books that send chills up my spine…maybe if I see it somewhere I will remember this review and snap it up πŸ™‚ Thanks chick

  5. Rebecca

    This actually sounds creepier than I made it out to be. I thought it would be more of a mystery with only a hint of the creeps, so now I’m not sure if this book is for me.

    Evie sounds awesome! Humor, amusing banter, loveable personality – what’s not to love!

    Don’t you just LOVE it when books exceed your expectations? Yippee!

    I sound like a broken record but…yet another amazing review! I got excited on the ride over her (by ride, I mean the wait for the page to load), I always love stopping by. Hmm, maybe it’s because your here or maybe it’s your insanely epic review? I’m thinking a bit of both ;D

  6. Jenea Whittington

    I haven’t read any of Bray’s books, so this one I wasn’t sure about. After your review, I really am intrigued and will definitely pick it up. But wow, 600 pages. πŸ™‚ Awesome review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  7. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    Oh awesome, so happy you ended up enjoying this one! It’s definitely a huge investment in your time so not liking it would suck. It sounds like Libba really has the creepy thing down, that I know you love so much. THat’s great! Did they go to a lot of speakeasies? LOL Great review love!

  8. Tara

    I picked this book up not knowing about it before hand, because I loved the premise. Glad you thought it was good. It is a huge book…about as long as the last Harry Potter book, lol.

  9. Annette

    I liked this one too, but I’m a historical fiction lover — so I didn’t think it was slowly paced — I just ate it up. Bray is tremendous, though. That has a lot to do with the ease of breezing through all those pages.

  10. Aneeqah

    Dang, 600 pages?! I guess I’ll finally get those muscular arms I’ve always wanted. πŸ˜‰ I usually bring the book I’m currently reading to school, so I can read in my free time there, but I may have to leave this one at home when I do read it! I think it’ll be about the weight of a textbook. O_o My backpack is already heavy enough as it is!!

    Anyways, I’m not a big historical fan, but I think I’ll definitely have to give this book a shot. The creepiness sounds pretty awesome! I have yet to be completely creeped out by a book, although I Hunt Killers was pretty creepy.

    The main character sounds wonderful in this book! It’s hard to find a main character that you can completely adore, but I think I’ll love Evie. I love a character with some snark. πŸ˜‰

    Fabulous review Giselle! You’ve convinced me to read this book, even though I’ll probably break my arms while reading it (because I have like zero upper arm strength…). Lol.

  11. Candace

    Woo hoo! I’m dying to read this book! I love the 20’s and the atmosphere it brings and I’m glad to hear that this book BRINGS IT! Add a great MC to that and it sounds like a winner!

  12. Giselle

    @Rebecca: Haha! I hope my blog was quick to load, I wouldn’t want you to start sweating from suspense!! πŸ˜€ Love your face!!

    @Jenni: Actually they did, and you’re jealous!

    @Aneeqah: Haha good call! And I loved I Hunt Killers! This one was a bit more horror though. We see a lot of disturbing killing scenes (yes more than in I Hunt Killers even). I think you’d really like it!

    Thanks so much, ladies, and O’dell πŸ˜‰

  13. Megan K.

    *wishful sigh* Wow, this REALLY sounds good. I mean, the synopsis made me want to read it, but not that badly, and now your review! Looks like I’ll have to go book shopping soon! I mean, creepy to the ninth degree? I’m a fan of all creepiness, yo! Too bad about needing to take that break, though. I’m not big on the historicals myself, so I have no doubt that I’ll have to do the same. πŸ™‚

    Brilliant review as usual, Giselle!

  14. Ashelynn Hetland

    I’m really happy you enjoyed this one, Giselle, as I wasn’t a fan of The Gemma Doyle books when I first attempted to read it, too. And I have this one, so I hope I love it! πŸ™‚

  15. Mary @ BookSwarm

    While I loved Libba’s two newest, modern novels, I wasn’t a huge Gemma fan either so it’s good to hear this historical one exceed expectations. I can’t wait to dig into it and fall into the 20’s!

  16. Jennifer Messerschmidt

    I am not a historical reader either so I’ve been unsure about this one and its length. I love creepy mysteries and the 20s are one of the most interesting time periods for me. I haven’t read the Gemma Doyle series yet either. I have the first book but never read it.

  17. Elodie

    I’m not a fan of historical novels either but this one sounds soooo good !! I can’t wait for my copy to arrive in my mailbox. Thanks for the great review Giselle !!

  18. Oh! Paper Pages

    The Diviners sounds incredible! I have it in my TBR stack, and after reading your review, I decided to start reading it tonight. I love historical novels, so I am thrilled that a non-historical lover enjoyed this one. The world she created sounds so magical and perfect that I can’t wait to dig in!

    s @ Oh! Paper Pages

  19. Amanda

    Great review! I am so excited to read The Diviners! A Great and Terrible Beauty was something that I enjoyed when I first read the series as a teen, but I’m uncertain it will stand the test of time for me. I am curious to read another story from Libba Bray, however, and I think the time period couldn’t be any more perfect. I’m planning on doing a The Great Gatsby reread in the near future with the movie premiering, so I’d love to have more to read about the time period. And adding in occult stuff just sounds awesome.