Thursday, 9 August 2018

The Diviners

It's 1926 and Evie O’Neill has been packed off to stay with her uncle in New York. It's meant to be punishment but Evie cannot wait to escape her provincial life and discover the delights of the Big Apple. Her crime? She's a seer and she shared something she shouldn't have at a drunken party. But she can't just tell her parents what really happened.

There were few things worse than being ordinary, in Evie’s opinion. Ordinary was for suckers.

Prohibition is in force but that won't stop Evie having a good time. She meets Ziegfeld girls and shows off her gift in speakeasies. But whilst she's being young and frivolous, a dark force has been released into the city. Her uncle's called in to consult on a string of murders showing elements of the occult and she's eager to help out.

It's set against a backdrop of prejudice, a reminder that America has always been a country of immigrants, a melting pot of culture and there was always someone to blame for society's ills. The cast is diverse too, with a black family and LGBT+ characters (I think the second book will focus more on them).

Evie is one of the diviners of the title. A group of people with special gifts, who have had to hide them in fear of persecution. Not everyone's gifts are the same and as you meet more characters, you soon learn that many of them are diviners too, they just don't know who else is and keep it close to their chests.

I thought research would be more glamorous, somehow. I'd give the librarian a secret code word and he'd give me the one book I needed and whisper the necessary page numbers. Like a speakeasy. With books.

I liked the murder mystery element and it's been ages since I read this kind of urban fantasy. Uncle Will runs a museum of the supernatural and their attempts to solve the murders reminded me of Buffy's Scooby gang. Evie hides her supernatural powers from the rest but this means no one takes her seriously when she reveals her theory.

The fact that Evie uses a lot of twenties slang in her speech is in keeping with the fact that she's trying to fit in with a more cosmopolitan crowd than she's used to. She's probably overdoing it but she seems so naive and sweet, you can forgive her.

It is a bit long and meandering at times. There are a lot of aspects about New York at the time that the author has tried to include, and it all adds to the mood, but it does kill the pace at times. It also felt that a lot of back stories were included for characters who I suspect will have a bigger part to play in the rest of the books, but it just felt like their stories didn't go anywhere.

When the world moves forward too fast for some people, they try to pull us all back with their fear.

I remember when this book was all over the blogosphere and it's taken me a few years to get to it. It stands the test of time but I'd like to think it would have had a tighter edit, if published today. I'll definitely be listening to the second book sometime.

Listening Notes

January LaVoy's narration was loads of fun, with lot's of (probably cheesy) twenties accents. I liked that the accents were restricted to the dialogue, so it didn't go over the top.

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Book Source: Borrowed from library

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