Libba Bray’s newest novel opens at a 1920s New York City party that, despite the presence of illicit booze, is not going well. The hostess, in an effort to liven things up, pulls out a Ouija board, which begins spewing terrifying messages: “I stand at the door and knock. I am the beast.” With that, Bray effectively sets a mood of terrifying foreboding that creeps around the edges of her character’s bright jazz age lives, occasionally rushing in to plunge them all into darkness.
The character most in denial of the darkness surrounding her is Evie, a wild girl from Ohio, whose parents mistakenly think that sending her to Manhattan to live with her uncle is a punishment. Evie has a creepy secret ability, but she is not about to let it interfere with the fabulous new life she plans to start in New York. Then she meets several people, including a pickpocket, a piano player, a Ziegfield Follies girl, and a Harlem numbers runner, who have secrets of their own. It seems that Evie and her new friends may have something to do with a mysterious group called The Diviners, the only power able to stop an unknown force of evil that has found a way back into this world.
The Diviners is a big book, and Bray makes ample use of its pages to create a fully lived in historical world, with vital attractive characters. Her prose is excellent, her plot is addictive, and both the fully formed occult happenings in this book and the hinted at events to come (complete with what seems to be a government conspiracy!) make this yet another book which was so enjoyable that I can’t wait to read the sequel.