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Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners
The Diviners
The Diviners


Highlights: Scenes from 1920s era speakeasies, chilling flashbacks in the killer's mind, clever and snappy dialogue
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Total Score
11/ 14

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1920s prohibition era setting, balace of lighthearted and dark/scary plot elements, fast-paced story


lengthy story, disjointed plot elements, at times over-the-top 1920 references

Bottom Line

Ever Played With a Ouiji Board? The characters from this book probably should not have! The Diviners by Libba Bray is set in prohibition era New York City, where Evie O’Neil has been sent due to some scandal in her home town in Ohio. While the writing is easy to read and light, the hardback copy […]

Posted April 29, 2013 by

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Evie O'Neil

Evie O’Neil

Ever Played With a Ouiji Board?

The characters from this book probably should not have! The Diviners by Libba Bray is set in prohibition era New York City, where Evie O’Neil has been sent due to some scandal in her home town in Ohio. While the writing is easy to read and light, the hardback copy is an intimidating 578 pages long. Including chapters from the perspective of Evie, Memphis, and Theta, the point-of-view skips around which may be distracting for some readers. Richly imbued with all the flavor of the United States Prohibition Era, the dialogue is laced with dated expressions such as “the cat’s pajamas.” Bray also insists on giving us plenty of detail from all relevant characters in order to present the story to its fullest.


The main character Evie, a modern flapper girl with a short hairstyle and a flask full of hooch, is “pos-i-toot-ly” excited to get out of her home town of Ohio. When her parents send her to live with her uncle, a professor who runs a museum of the supernatural, they have no idea that Evie will get herself mixed up in a real life murder investigation. Life is a party for Evie, who can’t wait to get into big city speakeasies and dance the night away with her friend and penpal, Mabel. In addition to being bold and fearless, Evie is a perfect amateur detective for another reason that might be a little harder to explain. Connecting her story to the others that Bray includes in The Diviners, Evie has a unique ability to read memories or feelings from any object she touches.

Theta Knight

Theta Knight

If you are looking on the other side of town, you will find Memphis Cambell and his little brother Isaiah. Memphis used to be able to heal people with his hands. All that stopped when his mother got sick. Both Memphis and Isaiah live with their aunt now and she is careful to bring them up as good, religious young men. When Isaiah starts to show evidence that he can read a playing card without seeing the other side, their aunt gets very nervous. While not many people are around for Memphis and Isaiah, they know they can always depend on each other.

Theta Knight shines on stage, standing out from all the other Ziegfeld girls when she performs. Something about her smile and perfect stage presence just light up the room, but it was not always that way. Until she met the piano player at the Waldorf-Astoria, Henry, she was just a girl running away from home in a big city.

The Diviners is long for the story that it tells because of the backstory the reader slogs through for each and every character. Many of the characters have interesting histories and knowing where they come from is valuable to the story on a whole. However, quite a few superfluous flach-backs are included as well, introducing even more characters which can be confusing at times. Since The Diviners has been released as the first book in a series, many of these irrelevant references may be explained or elaborated on in subsequent books.


Memphis Campbell

Memphis Campbell

When bodies start to turn up all over the city with strange occult symbols branded into them, the police turn to Evie’s uncle, William Fitzgerald. He is the curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult and a knowledgable person in these sorts of matters. The clues left behind are baffling enough without Evie getting involved, but the plucky young girl insists on accompanying her uncle to the crime scenes and ends up being a lot more helpful than anticipated.

While engaging and compelling, the plot is not linear by any means. There are moments during the novel where the reader may feel as though there are pages missing, being dropped off in the middle of a situation that has not been introduced. Elsewhere, scenes are inserted that seemingly have no bearing on the plot at all, but may have relevance later.

Fun Factor

The plot and storyline are somewhat dark and supernatural, but the story does a great job with providing humor and fun with romance and a party atmosphere. Since the story mainly follows Evie and Evie is always looking for a party, the reader is privy to lots of upbeat scenes in speakeasies or swinging nightclubs where the characters dance, drink, and socialize. Along with the nightlife imagery, plenty of sparks are flying around, creating some pretty interesting romantic situations and love triangles. Some readers may find the constant vintage references to be incessant, but in most cases Bray manages to integrate the historical cues nicely.

You May Like The Diviners If…

Sam Lloyd

Sam Lloyd

With its somewhat mystical plot, this book will be quite enjoyable to readers who enjoy supernatural thrillers. While not downright terrifying, the story has some spooky moments and it is not much of a spoiler to reveal that the murders have a supernatural influence involved. The reference to Lara Bow, a detective from a similar time-frame is unmistakable; those who enjoy mysteries will recognize a familiar structure while Bray outlines possible suspects, accumulates a dossier, examines clues, and pursues leads.


Diviners by Libba Bray 5.00/5 (100.00%) 1 vote

Lauren V. Bryant

Having studied library and information sciences in a graduate program at San Jose State University, Lauren is a professional librarian who has worked in middle school, high school, and public libraries with teen patron groups. Favorite genres include fantasy, historical fiction, cyberpunk, and stories with strong female characters. Check out Lauren's website, LaurentheLibrarian.com for book reviews, giveaways, and library stuff. Check out all my articles.


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