Friday, June 5, 2015

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1) by Libba Bray

  • Title: The Diviners
  • Classification: Young Adult (14+)
  • Genre: Paranormal Horror Story
  • Format: Hardcover; 592 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (September 18, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 9780316126113
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316126113
  • ASIN: 031612611X
  • Notes: Library Loan

The year is 1926 and prohibition is in full swing, the Zeigfield girls have their follies, and technological advances seem to know no bounds. Evie O'Neill has just been reprimanded by her parents for demeaning the character of a boy she knows deserved it but can't prove it. She's being sent to live with her uncle in New York and she couldn't be happier, but her happiness may be premature. In the midst of all the glamour and excitement, a dark shadow has been cast over the city as a serial killer starts stalking prey. Because of the nature of the killings, Evie's uncle has been called in to help with the investigation. Her uncle runs the Museum of American Folklore, Superstitions, and the Occult and is considered to be an expert in the field of the Occult. Due to her nosey nature and her propensity to get into trouble, Evie will find a new way to use the talent that got her into trouble with her parents. Evie O'Neill can find out a person's darkest secrets by touching an object that was once in that person's possession. With just a touch she can see into a victim's final moments and perhaps help catch a killer.

The Museum of American Folklore, Superstitions, and the Occult (aka the Museum of the Creepy Crawlies)  was constructed by Cornelius Rathbone who amassed his fortune building railroads. His sister, Liberty Anne, at age 11, was reported to have gone missing for two days. When she was found, she stated that in that lost time period she met a strange man whose coat opened to reveal the wonders and frights of the world. Her hair was completely white and for the next month before death claimed her, she made outrageous and startlingly accurate prediction about the future, most of which came true. Among them were Lincoln's assassination, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Great War,  as well as many others. It was said it was her predictions which led Cornelius to invest in steel and the railroads from which he acquired his fortune. One of her last predictions talked of  "'a coming storm,' a treacherous time when the Diviners would be needed." Diviners is a name for  people with rare and unique gifts and, make no mistake, a storm is coming. Liberty Anne Rathbone's final prediction is about to come true. The outcome, however, is anyone's guess. One thing is certain, with all the deaths in New York, something wicked is stirring. 
This was such a fun and fast paced book and a bit of a surprise. I expected a fairly typical paranormal ghost story set in the 1920's but it also had elements of Steampunk in it. The book follows two main characters and several important secondary characters who slowly come together and become friends. Many of whom, we come to learn, have Diviner like abilities.

The story begins as a terrible evil is unleashed upon New York. People are being murdered in grizzly fashion with body parts missing. Notes left with the dead along with the careful positioning of the bodies which have symbols branded upon them suggest these are some form of ritualistic type murders being methodically planned out.  Evie O'Neill's uncle Will is brought in by the police to help solve the crimes as he's an expert in field of the occult.

Evie is young, fearless, and loves being the center of attention. She can tell things about a person just by touching an object they've owned. Her talent got her in trouble and is the reason she came to be living in New York with her uncle right around the time the killings started. Her best friend, Mabel, who is almost her polar opposite, lives just down the hall and is about as smart as they come.

Memphis is a smart young black man with a love of poetry who works as a runner and once upon a time had the power to heal through touch. He no longer has the power, but his younger brother, Isiah, has the power of prophecy. Memphis does all he can to keep his brother's particular talent a secret. He doesn't want him exploited as he once was.

Sam Loyd is a 17 year old conman in the making. He can will people not to see him which is pretty handy in his line of work because he can hide anywhere. During his first encounter with Evie he steals twenty bucks from her and she hasn't trusted him since. When her uncle takes a shine to him and offers him a job at the museum, Evie is anything but pleased.

Theta is a Zigfield girl who lives with Henry, a musician. They tell everyone they're brother and sister when they're really best friends.These two befriend Evie early on and are very secretive about their pasts. They too have special abilities that will eventually be revealed,

Jared is Evie's uncle's ward. How he came to live with her uncle is somewhat of a mystery. He's a play it by the book kind of guy, but there is more to him than meets the eye. Mabel has a huge crush on him so Evie will attempt to play matchmaker.

When this motley crew comes together they will all have a hand in bringing down a murderer. Their only clue is a haunting tune which they later come to find has the following eerie lyrics:
“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.”

They have the potential to save the world. For the murders are just the beginning. The worst is yet to come...

Overall, I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. I thoroughly enjoyed this uniquely haunting story. Due to some of its content,  however, I would say this is a book is intended for the older portion of the Young Adult audience. It has some disturbing scenes that potentially could give some young children nightmares. It's a perfect book to read around Halloween or when you want a good scare.  In a word, it's Spooky.

The Book Trailer:

Notes to keep you in the know:
Make sure to read the Author's Notes at the end. I found it very interesting. Ms. Bray talks of various historical items she found that helped her create the story.

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