The Diviners Series Review by Libba Bray (Books 1-3)

Posted February 3, 2020 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Books, Reviews / 7 Comments

I tried the start The Diviners several years ago (I think in 2013 or 2014), checking it out from the library but quickly returning it unread as I was intimidated by its size. However, I really do love historical fiction and knew a lot of readers who adored the series, so when The Diviners Readalong was announced by some of my favorite folks in the book Youtube community, I knew it would be a great opportunity to finally commit! I decided to tackle these giant tomes via audio book and am so glad I did- it’s really the best way to experience these atmospheric stories and the narrator is AMAZING! The stories themselves were really a mix of ups and downs for me, and my ratings were a bit all over the place, but I’m so glad I am in a place now where I am prepared for the fourth and final installment (even if it took me a lot longer than the original readalong schedule lol).

The Diviners Series Review by Libba Bray (Books 1-3)The Diviners by Libba Bray
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
on September 18th, 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Pages: 578 •Format: Audio BookSource: Scribd

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-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

I adored the first book in the series, appropriately named The Diviners. A true paranormal murder mystery, it followed the story of absolutely extra Evie O’Neil as she gets banished to live in New York with her bachelor uncle who is the curator of a paranormal history museum (as one is). Throughout her time in the city she meets several other gifted “diviners” who eventually all get wrapped up in the mystery and murders being committed by a vengeful ghost. The novel definitely focuses on the paranormal but also dives deeply into religion, cults, American history and more, tying all of the elements together so seamlessly that it’s easy to believe all of the paranormal stuff actually did happen. Everything about this story, from the plotting to the pacing to the structure was excellently done and I really felt like I was experiencing living in New York in the 1920s.

The Diviners Series Review by Libba Bray (Books 1-3)Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
on August 25th, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 561 •Format: Audio BookSource: Overdrive

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O'Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to "read" objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, "America's Sweetheart Seer." But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners' abilities...
Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?

After ending the first book in the series on such a high note, I was eager to start book 2 (and even did so ahead of schedule). However, my excitement was short lived when I realized that this book was going to have a very different feel than the first one, and focus primarily on dream walking, which can be done by Henry and Ling-Chan. Now, I am REALLY not a fan of stories that just focus on the characters wandering around (a la Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows endless forest scenes) so I knew this book was going to be a tough one for me to get through. While there were some bright spots (I loved the look into 1920s radio with Evie’s “sweetheart seer” show, learning more about Sam’s backstory, and Henry’s as well) most of the story really dragged for me and I found myself totally zoning out a bunch. Even the ending (which was really quite disturbing) bored me because I was just at the point where I was desperate to get through it (at over 20 hours on audio it’s a real commitment). I think I’m probably in the minority here since a lot of people loved this book, but it really didn’t have the elements of the first installment that I enjoyed so much.

The Diviners Series Review by Libba Bray (Books 1-3)Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
on October 3rd, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Pages: 552 •Format: Audio BookSource: Overdrive

After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that early claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough of lies. They're more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward's Island, far from the city's bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten--ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows.

With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over, and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them fact-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they've ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation--a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves.

I’ll admit, I was a bit weary going into the third book of this series, after I had a hard time with the second. I didn’t need to worry though, as I actually ended up really enjoying it! In this installment the gang truly felt like they were a family and all of their story lines have started to become interconnected. The past also begins to merge with the present in this book as Evie & Co. begin to find out how they became Diviners and how they were all drawn to New York, and how Will plays into all of it. There’s quite a bit of government intrigue that plays into the plot, and while readers are led to believe by the synopsis and the first half of the book that the setting is going to be an asylum off the coast of New York, the story is so much more than a creepy asylum tale. It’s a story of found family, of unearthing the horrors of America (even the non-paranormal ones that actually happened, like eugenics and white supremacy). It’s hard to say more without spoilers, but I feel like this book finally caught the series’ stride from turning away from a paranormal murder mystery (which is what the first book reads like to me) and pivoting into a full-blown save the world saga.

Minor spoiler ahead, but there were also quite a few deaths at the end of this book, that all happened one after another like domino pieces falling. Perhaps I was naive, but I wasn’t expecting that after the core gang has been intact for two entire lengthy books. There were two deaths in particular that really caught me off guard, and one of those was pretty upsetting, (but I hope it motivates the rest of the Diviners into action)! We also got quite a bit of Sam in this book which I adored because he’s my favorite character after Theta (who grew so much in this book)! Overall I think Bray packed a LOT of trauma into the ending of this one to prepare for a more somber tone in The King of Crows.


7 responses to “The Diviners Series Review by Libba Bray (Books 1-3)

  1. I wish I was good with rereading because from what I can see, this series gets better and better the more you read it and see the foreshadowing! I hope I can get to it someday haha. I loved the first and third books as well. I didn’t love the second one either but there was something about it that kept me interested haha. Can’t wait for the next one!!! EEK SO NERVOUS

  2. THE SIZE OF THESE BOOKS! I tried really hard to read the Diviners a few years ago but I couldn’t get into it at all. I probably should have tried the audiobooks but I find I can’t listen to books that are over 15 hours long because my attention wanes.

    • The size literally scared me away for years LOL It’s really a great series, but yes the length can be challenging-I’ll admit I’ve been listening to the audio of the last book now since February and still have about 10 hours to go lol

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