Book Review | The Diviners by Libba Bray (The Diviners #1)

The Diviners is a series that I have been meaning to start for like ever. It is basically a dark, supernatural murder mystery that takes place in Manhattan during the 1920s. This book checked off so many boxes on the “Becky Loves This in a Book” List, so needless to say I was pretty excited to read it. Happy to report that this book is just as good as sounds!

First thing that we need to talk about is the ensemble cast. The synopsis of this book made it seem like we would only follow Evie, our female lead, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that we get a full cast of fleshed out characters. I love an ensemble cast, if you’re not aware, and I think this book really benefited from having one. Our characters all come from different walks of life, and it was nice to see such a diverse cast. I think seeing the world through different lenses really allowed us to fully explore the setting, and aided in painting the picture that is Manhattan in the 1920s. You get to see the glamour, but also the messed-up shit that no one really talks about. My favorites were Evie, Memphis, Mabel, Theta, Sam, Henry, and Evie’s Uncle Will, so basically all of them?

Another thing that really stood out to me was the setting. I thought Bray did an excellent job of creating atmosphere and transporting us to the 1920s. I think it’s so successful in part because of the writing style. It is littered with phrases and lingo that was used in the 20s. It felt very in character, and really put me in the time period. The descriptions in this book also aided into transporting us there. I’m usually not a big fan of overly descriptive prose, and while these descriptions weren’t overdone, there were a lot, but they really helped me experience the book. I felt like I was in the time period and the ominous tone really put me on edge.

Other things I enjoyed were the supernatural elements, and the villain. I think some supernatural books come across really cheesy, but this did not feel cheesy at all. In part due to the tone, and the fact that the villain was super scary. Is it just me or are scary villains hard to come by in YA? Our villain doesn’t play any games, and I found myself on the edge of my seat, scared at what they were going to do next. People are not wrong when they describe this book as dark, because it goes places and the murders are horrifying. If  you get squeamish when reading about blood and guts, maybe avoid this one.

The one let down for me was honestly the last 50 to 100 pages. After so much build up with the slow place and suspenseful plot, the ending sort of fell flat. The main reason for that was because the ending was very unbalanced. We focused so much on defeating the villain, and not much was happening with the other characters who were not involved with that plot line. I really wanted to see more people come together at the end, and that didn’t happen, so we didn’t get a climax to some of the characters story lines. It felt sort of like set-up for future books, because we didn’t get those climaxes, which I understand to a certain extent, but I wanted more payoff.

Overall, this was great! I can totally see why many BookTubers and Book Bloggers say that this is an underrated series. I loved the ensemble cast, the setting/atmosphere, and the dark tone that is set throughout the book. This is one of the few books where I did not mind the slow pace at all. I definitely plan to continue on with the series. I hear that it only gets better and better with each new book, so I’m pretty excited.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

What did you think of The Diviners? Talk to me about your favorite characters, things you loved, things you hated, basically anything related to The Diviners. I would love to hear your thoughts!

P.S. I have a friend named Will, and I totally pictured Evie’s Uncle Will as an older version of my friend.

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