A Supernatural Mystery in 1920s New York: A Review of The Diviners by Libba Bray

A Supernatural Mystery in 1920s New York: A Review of The Diviners by Libba BrayThe Diviners by Libba Bray
Series: The Diviners #1
on November 2012
Pages: 578
Format: Paperback

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1920s New York. A teen clairvoyant. An old evil. It has begun...

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old home town and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City - and she is pos-i-tute-ly thrilled! New York is the city of speak-easies, rent parties, shopping and movie palaces, and soon enough Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfeld girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult - also known as 'The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies'.

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of it. Even Evie's new pals - hoofers, numbers runners and activists, but all swell kids - are drawn into the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer - if he doesn't catch her first...

Banished from Zenith, Ohio for a party trick gone wrong, Evie O’Neill intends to enjoy her punishment in New York. Staying with her Uncle Will, the curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition and the Occult (known to by most as The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies), and his assistant Jericho, Evie manages to find trouble wherever she goes. At times that trouble might be tracking down the closest speak-easy in the middle of prohibition, and others it could be stumbling upon a gruesome murder where only Evie has the unique talents to solve.

Evie is feisty, cheeky and her own particular brand of trouble. Her gift of psychometrics gives her the ability of holding an object near and dear to someone and knowing their deepest and darkest secrets.  And there are the dreams. Two years ago they started bringing a sense of fear and death. But Evie isn’t the only one who started dreaming and having unexplainable powers. Memphis Campbell, Sam Lloyd, Henry DuBois and others are all somehow connected but the how and why is still a little murky.

I liked Evie. She’s full of spark and trouble and at the beginning she is the kind of person who just wants a bit of fun. There are times when she shows just how bad a friend she is to people like Mabel and her disregard for anything but having a good time makes me wonder why her parents didn’t ship her off sooner. But she’s energetic and the kind of personality that makes you want the best for her despite the fact that she doesn’t seem to want it for herself.

The supporting cast is well crafted and interesting to read. Memphis and his knowledge of the clubs and gangsters in Harlem, Sam Lloyd’s street smarts, Jericho’s support and secrets and Theta’s glitzy life as one of the Ziegfeld girls. They all bring something exciting and different to the novel giving it a rather diverse nature.

The Diviners is a story about the supernatural, a mystery and murder and they work perfectly together. There is an occult killer on the loose, choosing his victims according to some kind of religious text. It’s gory and as creepy and Uncle Will’s museum – and the gruesome murders are somehow linked to Naughty John, a monster who was captured and killed fifty years ago. This is a book which feels well researched and relevant to the time in which it was set. I don’t know a lot about the 1920’s but from the vernacular to the outfits and geography of the times – it felt authentic.

I loved the mystery and how it played out at the end. There is a lot which is still to be discovered and I’m eager for the next book to see just what happens next for The Diviners. If you are looking for an interesting book, set in a decade full of mystery and glamour along with a brilliant cast of characters and a villain who has to be read to be believed – this book is for you. Try not to be intimidated by the size because if you are anything like me – once you start reading you won’t want the story to end. Lair of Dreams, the second book in the Diviners series, is expected to be published in 2015.


I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


  1. This sounds so good, but I’ve read a couple of Bray’s other books and I really didn’t like her writing style 🙁 I might have to add The Diviners to my tbr list and give it a try though!

  2. I am glad you liked The Diviners. I couldn’t put it down when I read it last year and can’t wait until the next book in the series comes out!

    • You are? I’ve not read anything else by her… I have a copy of one of the Gemma Doyle books… but didn’t realize it was the third one when I bought it. Whoops! Highly recommend this one. Evie is just one of those characters I would hate to know but I loved reading her flirty, spunky attitude and the mystery is pretty well thought out too.

  3. I love books set in a different time period (I said this on another of your reviews) so this one really spoke to me. 1920s are some of my favorite years to read about. I thought this book was great. My sister did try to read it and it was a DNF for her so I guess it’s not for everyone.

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