The Diviners: A Book Review

Posted August 3, 2015 by Carlisa in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

The Diviners: A Book ReviewThe Diviners by Libba Bray
Series: The Diviners #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on September 18, 2012
Genres: YA, Paranormal, Historical Fiction
Pages: 592
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

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 read The Diviners in anticipation of the sequel coming out this month! It has super good reviews and the description seemed so interesting to me. 1920s. Flappers. Ghosts. Serial murders. Paranormal powers. So I grabbed it up my library and started reading with high hopes–despite the monster that it is at almost 600 pages. And I was not disappointed by this book at all! I have never read anything like it before. 

It opens with a chapter that is super good and intriguing. It kind of felt like one of those crime shows where they show the crime in the first scene and then move on to include the main characters and investigation. We open on these random people with a Oujia board who end up summoning a ghost–Naughty John (who is the creepiest ever). And let’s just get this straight right now. You don’t ever use a Oujia board people. Those things are the worst. I don’t really know if ghosts are real or not, but why go messing around with fate just in case. Good things are not going to happen. Just ask Evie and all her friends from this book. Okay, anyways. Rant over. Oujia boards = the worst. Back to what I was saying. Throughout the book, we got these interspersed scenes when Naughty John did his business, if you know what I mean. And it was very crime-show-y, which I liked. This book is like Criminal Minds with a Paranormal twist. 

From the very beginning, I could see how unique and well-rounded Evie–the MC–was as a character. She has a personality all her own, that’s for sure. While she boisterous and loud on the outside, she still has insecurities on the inside that she kind of hides from everyone. Characterization is very important to me as I’m reading a book so I was glad to see that Evie actually had a personality and was her own individual person, not some cliché. I loved and marked this quote:
“‘Oh, Evie, you’re too much,’ people said, and it wasn’t complimentary. Yes, she was too much. She felt like too much inside all the time.
So why wasn’t she ever enough?” BOOM, right in the feels.

I also love how visual this book is. At 10% in, I made a note that I’d like to see this as a movie, because I think it would be so intriguing and just good. Bray describes everything so well that I felt like I was there, despite definitely not wanting to be there in person (did I mention serial murders committed by the creepiest ghost ever?).

Kind of going along with that, I loved the 1920s setting. I think if this book had been written as a contemporary, it wouldn’t have been nearly as good. And with the descriptions being so visual, I felt like I was there, in the 20s. I loved the flappers and the parties and just the entire atmosphere. Very Great Gatsby-esque. And the language! Libba Bray definitely did her research before writing this book. So much 20s lingo and vocabulary and I JUST LOVED IT. As an English major, language is something I cherish very much, and to see how they spoke back then…was just awesome. I wish I spoke like that. I think my favorite moment was this: “‘She is the elephant’s eyebrows,’ Evil whispered appreciatively.” Best. Compliment. Ever. But if I just said that, people would think I’m a weirdo (Hint: I totally am a weirdo).

I only had small issues throughout. One being that it is third person omniscient, and it would kind of just switch back and forth between character perspective willy-nilly (yes, I just said willy-nilly). So it would just be confusing sometimes, but that was a very small thought and didn’t bother me that much.

Another issue I had probably contains some spoilers, shoot. Okay, sorry. View Spoiler »

But overall, I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to starting the next one! It’s an overall creepy book that pulls you into its pages full-force.

Notable Quotes

“‘The line between faith and fanaticism is a constantly shifting one,’ Dr. Poblacki said. ‘When does belief become justification? When does right become rational and crusade become crime?'”

“‘There is no greater power in this earth than story…People think boundaries and borders build nations. Nonsense–words do. Beliefs, declarations, constitutions–words. Stories. Myths. Lies. Promises. History.'”

“That was how the world worked, wasn’t it? You set your sights on something, and life came along with a sucker punch.”


  • I actually didn’t know much about this. I have just recently been seeing the sequel popping up on Twitter every once and while. Criminal Minds and the 1920s? Sold!

  • I read Beauty Queens by Libba Bray a few years ago and I remember loving it so much! Ever since then, I’ve been wanting to check out the Diviners. It sounds incredible. Awesome review! 🙂
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian