The diviners by Libba Bray
Allen and Unwin, 2012. ISBN 9781742375229.
(Age: 15+) Recommended. Evie O'Neill has a secret, a power that has gotten her into trouble in her boring hometown where she uncovered the secrets of some powerful party goers. Bundled off to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, she is thrilled to be in New York City, with its shopping, parties, alcohol and speakeasies. She meets a fabulous Ziegfeld Follies girl and a handsome pickpocket, but when brutal murders occur, seemingly occult based, she finds herself investigating with her Uncle.
The glamorous atmosphere of the 1920's New York, with parties, dancing girls and gambling comes to life in the hands of Printz Award-winner Bray, who has the well-honed skill to write dialogue and describe scenes that are indelibly marked on the reader's mind. This background is absolutely fascinating and beautifully described, with the research going into making it feel very authentic. The mysteries of the occult are dark and threatening and seem even worse when contrasted with the partying, fashions and fun that flapper, Evie craves.
Evie meets up with a strange group of people in her quest for fun and her dangerous attempt to uncover the beast, Naughty John, who is murdering innocent people in a horrendous fashion. There is a large cast of characters to remember, all interesting with strange backgrounds and strange powers. Memphis Campbell is a numbers runner, whose healing ability has failed him. Jericho works for her uncle and has secrets of his own, and Sam, the pick pocket, is searching for his family who were involved with Project Buffalo. Theta dances for the Ziegfeld Follies and lives with Henry, a talented, gay musician. Together they have to face the evil of the beast.
Aimed at the mature young adult, (there are references to drinking, drugs and gambling), this large tome (578 pages), the first book in a series, is a gripping paranormal thriller full of historical detail. Libba Bray answers five questions about the book for The Horn Book
and there is a site for the series with a trailer and author information.