The Diviners, by Libba Bray (2012)
Opening Line: “In a townhouse at a fashionable address on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, every lamp blazes.”
Guys! My wish was granted! I’ve found a Libba Bray book that I loved! I should probably read more mysteries (maybe specifically paranormal mysteries?) because it seems like every time I do, I eat them up.
The prologue sets the stage in this one, with a delightful seance gone terribly wrong. Using a trusty old Ouija board, the members of this party conjure the spirit of Naughty John, our villain for the tale. Now, my friends were seance experts growing up, hosting at least one at just about every sleepover for the years between 1999-2001, but we never used a Ouija board. I don’t know if I could have handled the pressure.
Chapter 1 brings us to our sort-of main character, Evie O’Neill, outgoing party girl recently banned from her little town in Ohio to go live with her uncle in New York City, right at the height of the roaring 20s. (Hindsight for Mr. & Mrs. O’Neill – sending your naughty daughter to the Big Apple where all the speakeasies are might not have been the best move.) Uncle Will, more affectionately known as “Unc” is the proprietor of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, known to the masses as The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies. As someone with a special knack for the supernatural, Evie is worried that Unc will discover her secret talent, her ability to divine truths about someone just by touching an item belonging to them. But when a young woman is found murdered in a particularly gruesome scene, and Will is called in to help, Evie starts to think her talent might just be useful.
What makes this book so great — besides the SUPER CREEPY murder scenes and delightful time period elements — is the vast cast. I said “sort-of main character Evie O’Neill” because there are multiple main characters at play here. As opposed to many third-person narratives that focus on one primary character’s perspective, we get the perspectives of a whole slew of people, and they all seem equally important. I can’t wait to see how they continue to connect and overlap throughout the series. Book two, Lair of Dreams, hit shelves a couple weeks ago.