The Diviners by Libba Bray
1920s Manhattan: Prohibition! Bootleggers! Speakeasies! Flappers! Throw in a serious of grisly occult-based murders and you've got yourself one heckuva paranormal thriller. Booted from her parents' home in Ohio after an unfortunate incident at a party, 17-year-old Evie has come to New York to stay with her uncle, the curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition and the Occult (aka "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies"). When the murders start, the police call upon Uncle Will to lend his expertise to the investigation. Evie tags along and inadvertently finds her power to "read" objects activating as she handles the victim's shoe buckle. All of Manhattan is riveted by the killings and Evie finds herself in the thick of it, working to solve the case and prevent the next murder. Little does she know, there are several other teens throughout the city - people she knows - with similar powers.
The Diviners clocks in at just under 600 pages, and it is pos-i-tute-ly worth every single one of them. I'm not sure whether to call it an atmospheric romp through the 1920s with a paranormal element or a paranormal thriller set against the backdrop the 1920s. Can it be equally both? The mood is definitely historical. From the language to the music to the fashion, there is no historical detail left unmentioned or undeveloped. You can't help but be transported to the 1920s The sights, sounds, even smells of Manhattan pervade your senses. But then there's the religious cult, the Brethren, which is so intricately described that I'd swear it was a real thing. And then there's the "Diviners" themselves. While a lot of mystery remains as to the origins and extent of their various abilities (certain to be cleared up in future novels), each of the characters has been fully developed from their public personalities to the ghosts in their closets. And how!
My only complaint is that there are sooooo many threads left dangling. I knew it was the first in a series when I picked it up, but I hoped there would be greater resolution. With so many secondary characters, I should have known Libba Bray would only give us a "just enough" of what we needed to begin to understand pieces of them and become fully invested in their stories, only to be left empty-handed and eager to read the next installment. The Diviners doesn't stand alone, but it definitely has we waiting breathlessly for the sequel. Gah! And I don't even know when it's scheduled to release. Not for at least a year, I'm sure. Gah!
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