The Diviners by Libba Bray
Allen & Unwin, 2012. ISBN 9781742375229.
When this hefty volume was passed on to me for reading and reviewing, I was immediately intimidated. Libba Bray's The Diviners counts up over 500 pages, and surprisingly each page builds on the last to create an exciting tale.
From the word 'go', The Diviners revels in descriptions of 1920s New York - its estates and their upper-crust owners, the parties they host and their enigmatic, mysterious, brilliant guests, many of whom form the novel's eclectic character ensemble.
At the heart of this wholly vaudevillian thriller is Evie O'Neill, a country girl new to the glamorous New York City. At first, she is caught up in the quirky, larger-than-life street atmosphere of NYC, before dipping into the gaudy Prohibition-era world of nightclubs, cinemas and other social attractions.
The clause of Evie's stay in New York is that her uncle has offered her accommodation (in no less than his curious museum devoted to eerie culture concerning the Occult - what could possibly happen here?)
The shiny, glittery setting of the novel quickly becomes tense and dangerous, as Evie's stay is shaken by creepy incidents of the homicidal variety, which Evie becomes involved in investigating.
The Diviners recalls Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden novels of the mid-20th century, with their decidedly feminine but powerful young heroines delving into mysterious crimes. The main difference here is the theme of Occult which runs through The Diviners, adding an element of darkness and making for a very exciting plot device.
Unrelenting in its nostalgia and its compulsive, twisted storytelling, The Diviners is one for late night thrills. Just make sure you can sleep in the next day.
Henry Vaughan (Student)