Rating: 5 stars
Review May Contain Spoilers
Libba Bray's The Diviners changed that for me. Her book goes beyond the usual Great Gatsby glamour. The KKK, eugenics, dark magic, Harlem Renaissance and Chinese Exclusion Act all have honorable mentions that connect the plot and characters. Don't worry, the Jazz Age and theater showgirls also make important appearances. This is no ordinary YA novel, the occult themes make the book positively terrifying at times. As a reader, I got creeped out and may or may not have been afraid to sleep in the complete dark while reading it. (Update: since I finished the book sleeping has been no issue)
The Diviners follows Evie O'Neill. She has a dangerous power: she can see a person's darkest secrets just by touching a personal item of theirs. Keeping this power a secret is possible but problematic. Trouble follows Evie and soon enough her exasperated parents send her away to live with her uncle in NYC. Uncle Will happens to run a museum that specializes in the occult. The museum isn't exactly the reason for all truly horrifying events that will take place, though.
The novel starts out with a gaggle of rich snobby teenagers partying it up with a Ouija board. Unknowingly they summon Naughty John, a powerful entity slated to bring the end of the world. He is not your average villain. I'm not sure any description does him justice.
Evie and Will's lives are turned upside down when a string of murders terrorize New Yorkers. Each murder victim is chosen to match the description of a religious prophecy and occult symbols are at every crime scene. The cops want Will's help and Evie finds out her powers could help catch the killer. Evie also makes new friends--and there's a love triangle. (What YA novel doesn't have one?) None of these factors take away from the brilliant writing. Evie is also not alone--some of her friends have powers or dark secrets of their own. Only the Diviners can save the world--if they aren't hunted down first.
I am pretty sure this will be a trilogy and the second book is coming out this summer. I am partly glad I just got into this series--the wait would've killed me. Readers are weary of the 600+ page sequel. My reaction? Challenge accepted.