Book review: “The Diviners” by Libba Bray

“The Diviners” is the first book in a new historical/supernatural series by Libba Bray.
BY BETTY LYTLE Published: January 20, 2013

“The Diviners” (Little, Brown and Co., $19.99) is the first book in a historical/supernatural series by Libba Bray. It is set in New York City in 1926, where speak-easies, Ziegfeld girls and pickpockets abound.

Evie O'Neill, 17, has a supernatural power that she tries to keep secret. She can hold an object that belongs to someone and access the person's deepest thoughts. She got in trouble in her hometown of Zenith, Ohio, using this talent, and was sent to live with her uncle in New York City. He is curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition and the Occult, more commonly known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.”

Evie meets her uncle's handsome assistant, Jerico Jones, who has his own secret. So do Memphis Campbell, a poet who runs numbers in Harlem, and Theta Knight, a Ziegfeld Follies girl. Both become Evie's friends.

A serial killer commits several murders, and Evie is convinced her divining powers can help catch him. The killer's identity is exposed to the reader before Edie and her friends know who it is, which adds to the horror of seeing them be drawn into danger.

The author recreates the era as well as the “lost generation” of the 1920s with realism and accuracy. This is a scary tale of serial killers, cults and ghosts. Young adult readers should enjoy it.

— Betty Lytle