Written by: Libba Bray
Publication Info: 2012, Little, Brown, and Company
One Line: When Evie O’Neill is kicked out of her home in Ohio to live with her uncle in New York City in 1926, she is thrilled, but she does not know that she will be sucked into investigating a supernatural serial killer.
Brief Plot Summary: Weaving together disparate stories in 1920s New York City, The Diviners tells the tale of people who have supernatural powers, such as healing the sick or, in Evie O’Neill’s case, being able to touch an object and see its history. Evie is the central character of this story, and when she uses her skill to reveal that one of the popular boys in her Ohio town has impregnated someone, her parents send her to live with her uncle in New York, as they’ve had enough of her trouble. Evie, of course, is thrilled: she’s ready to have some fun in the big city. Her uncle runs the “Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult,” and
Thoughts: Although at times the book feels bloated and like its many threads will not coalesce, and some of these threads feel unfinished, The Diviners is engaging as a supernatural police procedural and a peak into 1920s New York City. It could easily encourage readers to want to read more fiction about this era. Even the language and slang seem authentic to the time. Bray opens with a masterstroke of setting the spooky mood and in involving modern readers in a period piece: she opens on a demon being conjured by an Ouija board, which every teen of today will be familiar with from slumber parties. This conduit between past and present (and, in the book, between supernatural realms) allows us to see Evie, when she arrives, not as a stranger from the 1920s but as a teenager. Bray’s characterization of Evie as a teen is great: Evie is rebellious, boy-crazy, and wants to party, much like many teens of today. Bray does not shy away from the real issues of the day, either, as racism enters the mix in subplots, as does the burgeoning union movement, and some talk of eugenics. Although overall this is an entertainment piece, those elements will certainly educate readers about the time period. While the book is a bit long at 578 pages, and pacing could be a little faster, it is certainly an enjoyable tale by a great YA author.
Author Information: From www.LibbaBray.com: “Libba Bray is the New York Times bestselling author of The Gemma Doyle trilogy (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, The Sweet Far Thing); the Michael L. Printz Award-winning Going Bovine; Beauty Queens, an L.A. Times Book Prize finalist; and The Diviners series. She is originally from Texas but makes her home in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, son, and two sociopathic cats. “