Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Diviners, by Libba Bray- Early ARC Review

From Goodreads:
Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is 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 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.

There are many authors who write books I love, and of them there are several I've had the great pleasure of meeting and discovering they're very love able themselves.  I always knew Libba Bray would be one of those authors, I mean have you read her blog? Um, seriously, have you? Because if not, please go back and read it all. I promise you will thank me.  Anyhoots, after reading her her first four books and loving her more with each one, and after reading her blog for several years (often laughing in inappropriate places and times), it was with great joy that I met my beloved Libba and found her to be even more charming in person.  Yes, last year THE GREATEST moment of BEA for me was not even at the BEA, but at the Scholastic This is Teen event on my second last night in the city. 

This years BEA promised to be just as fantastic as it not only had Libba Bray present, but it had the first book in her Diviners series, which she'd been teasing her beloved fans with for some time.  The Diviners was the number one book on my BEA wish list, and it was with great joy that I nabbed a copy on my first day at the Javits.  I would have loved nothing more than to have my copy signed, but I get BEA guilt if I line up for time sensitive signings for folks I already have signed books from, so I swung by and made Mooney eyes at Libba while she signed others books but I left the line to those who had yet to have the enchanting experience of meeting her.  I know right? How selfless am I?  Lets just say mean posts about bloggers will never be about my Canadian self (snort), unless you know, you meet me on a grumpy day.  Did I mention I was the biter?
No, no! I'm pulling your leg.  Really.  Biting strangers is unsanitary.  Germs people! Germs!  I pay someone to do the biting for me.

But wait! I digress, there was a book I was reviewing here wasn't there?

Since it was my birthday, I decided I was going to read one of my top three BEA books as a special treat for myself.  Since all three weren't due out until September it meant I was cheating a bit by reading them extra early, but isn't that what birthdays are all about?  Let's just say, it wasn't even really a contest, The Diviners was pulled out and reverentially placed on the coffee table so that I could admire it for a few more hours before digging in.

First off, let me just say it was a work of art.  From the first few words to the last few, Libba transported me to a time and place so vibrant and full of life, so detailed and carefully fleshed out it's hard to believe it was nearly 100 years in the past.  Her research was obviously thorough, but the art of it was how she wove the many facts of the 20's in New York City into her story so seamlessly it all felt as if it was part of the narrative.  Everything from prohibition to segregation, Jazz to Ziegfeld follies, car makes to the details of the El trains, gave this supernatural tale of horror and intrigue all the solid footing in history and fact it needed to make the creepy factor so much more alive and real.

Oh and how creepy!  I was completely blown away by the horror in this story.  I didn't see it coming and it was some seriously creeptastic stuff.  Cults, rituals, evil houses and seedy mysteries, not to mention a demonic ghost, getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night was not fun for a few days, let me tell you.  Again, she grounded a truly terrifying bad guy, John Hobbes, with many factual baddies of the time period.  The Pillar of Fire Church, the Ku Klux Klan, and all the various general bigotries of the time helped to set the stage for some chilling moments.

Flipping between the first person narrative of several different characters, Libba manages to show a sampling of many different experiences.  A young black number runner, a runaway Ziegfeld girl, a trouble making flapper, a street smart immigrant, a gay piano player, and a straight lace daughter of activists, gave the story a range which greatly helped to immerse the reader fully in the roaring 20's.  But more than that, it made the story a group adventure, a sort of historical/supernatural avengers epic.

As Evie would say, this story was pos-i-lute-ly swell-ski.  I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to book two!

The Diviners, by Libba Bray
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers, September 18th, 2012
My copy acquired at the BEA
Buy The Diviners on Amazon