Monday, November 18, 2013

The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners is the frog’s eyebrows, I mean, it’s posi-lute-ly the cat’s pajamas. Evie O’Neill’s a live wire who gets zazzled and splifficated and spills the beans on a high society dewdropper who knocked up a squiff. (OK, sorry—I can’t keep that up. Flapper-talk is the bee’s-knees, baby, but it’s Greek to me. Let’s try again.)

The Diviners is a rollicking fun historical-paranormal novel, set in Prohibition-era Manhattan. Our heroine, Evie, is a privileged seventeen-year-old girl who lost her beloved brother to the War, and she wouldn’t be a teenager if she didn’t rebel against the pain and her broken family. Turns out liquor is even more attractive when wrapped in the forbidden glamour of speakeasies and flapper fashion, and Evie’s become a little of out of control. Her paranormal talent comes out during a drunken party, and she airs secrets that she has no right to know and no way to prove. But she won’t apologize, and so her parents send her from Ohio to New York, to stay with her fusty old museum-curator uncle.

Being sent to Manhattan is not quite the punishment it was intended to be. Turns out Uncle Will doesn’t run just any old boring museum: he runs the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, and is consulting with the police on a bizarre murder which included supernatural symbols on and around the body. Evie manages to befriend a cabaret dancer and hang out at speakeasies—but she also talks herself onto the crime scene, where her talent comes into play, giving her an unwanted peek at the intimate details of truly horrific killing. Should she come clean about her special ability, to stop a serial killer?

Evie’s the protagonist, but the book alternates among several featured characters, like Memphis, a handsome young poet with terrible dreams, and Theta, an orphan who’s reinvented herself but can’t escape her past. They all have secrets or paranormal talents or both, and their lives all collide with the terrible plans of the killer.

Between the atmospheric Roaring Twenties, the creepy murders, and the vivid characters, Libba Bray’s The Diviners is truly hotsy-totsy and the darb! (If you have no idea what I just said, check Dewey 427 in the nonfiction section for slang dictionaries, or see Slang of the 1920’s online.)

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