by Libba Bray
Published by Little, Brown BYR
on September 18, 2012
Length: 18 hours, 14 min
Narrator: January LaVoy
Source: bought the audiobook from Audible.com
Clicking the covers will take you to Goodreads. What do you think of the different covers? I think one is UK and one is Australian. International readers, if you have the scoop, tell me in comments.
My summary: It's the roaring 20's, and party girl Evangeline "Evie" O'Neill causes a scandal in small town Ohio and gets shipped off to Manhattan to live with her Uncle Will, who runs a museum focused on the supernatural and occult. When gruesome murders begin to occur all over the city, the police ask Will for his expert opinion. But Evie has a secret. She has a paranormal ability that might help crack the case -- or put her within the killer's reach.
My take: The Diviners is impressive on so many levels. It's a hefty (nearly 600 page) historical mystery featuring a large cast of characters, a great deal of historical detail, and that tricky "intersecting lives" kind of plot structure, in which a bunch of different storylines slowly merge into one.
Libba Bray is one of my auto-buy authors. She has the most amazing imagination and I always enjoy getting a little peek into it. The Gemma Doyle books are one of my favorite YA series and it made me happy that The Diviners also features a historical setting and paranormal elements. I also enjoyed Bray's off-the-wall contemporary satire Beauty Queens. (I listened to Libba Bray read it herself on audio and she was awesome. The audiobook even won a "best of 2011" award from AudioFile magazine in the YA category.)
Odd as it might sound, I also see parallels between Beauty Queens and The Diviners, namely the big casts of characters from all walks of life, and the multiple third person POVs that slowly begin to converge. January LaVoy, the narrator of the audio version of The Diviners, was a phenomenal reader. She made each and every one of the literally dozens of characters sound unique and authentic.
To me, the most amazing part of The Diviners was the amount of historical detail included in the story. This isn't one of those books about the 1920s that just throws in a few flappers and a couple of Prohibition references and calls it a day. It's clear that an enormous amount of research went into The Diviners, which not only features slang of the time but incorporates a lot of history -- from the aftereffects of World War I to the Eugenics movement to1920s Harlem nightlife. The story also features a very unexpected and cool steampunk-ish twist that I was not expecting at all.
The fact that The Diviners includes so many points of view and so much historical detail does mean that the book's plot moves at a fairly deliberate pace -- it takes some time and patience on the part of the reader before all the various strands of the plot begin to weave together. For this reason, I think the book is probably a good fit for older teens and adult readers of YA.
Speaking of time and patience, after listening to nearly 600 pages read over the course of eighteen hours, I would have been a little peeved to be left dangling on one of those ever-popular YA cliffhanger endings. I am happy to report that I was not. The killer is apprehended and the police investigation wrapped up, while the book still hints at more intrigue to come. Yes, this book will take up a big chunk of your time, but it is time well spent!