Libba Bray is one of those authors that I’ve always known of and appreciated, but never actually got around to reading. Recently though, after this stella review from Becky (who actually always posts amazing reviews, so you should totally just go and follow her blog) I decided to pick up the Diviners and by jove, it was fun. Pretty much as soon as I had finished reading it, I hopped over to NetGalley (secretly hoping for arcs of The Amazing Book is Not on Fire so I won’t have to embarrass myself by actually going into a shop and demonstrating my planet sized crush on Dan Howell by mumbling and blushing as it is rung up – NetGalley, if you could sort that out for me I’d be very grateful) and what do I find? The sequel! So, obviously, I had to have it.
After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to “read” objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners’ abilities…
Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?
First off, an apology for soiling a book review with admissions of my creepy crush on a YouTuber, I do apologise, I am here after all to tell you about Lair of Dreams, not tell you about how much I really appreciate Dan Howell’s face. And hair…. And ok, #StopLeah2015
Anyway, this book. This book is what is important, so I will start off by getting some ill feeling out of the way, I am kind of disappointed that the covers don’t match if I’m honest. The cover for Lair of Dreams makes this look very much like a film noir type story, which wasn’t a vibe I really got from either this or The Diviners, even if it did involve solving a mystery. Also, sucks to be anyone who has a physical copy of The Diviners and wants to add this to their shelves, because this cover doesn’t match any of the covers I have seen for the first book. Though, maybe there is a planned rerelease with a new cover coming soon. Let’s hope so, eh?
Like most series, the second book is always a tough one, this one especially so, The Diviners is a hard act to follow. Although it is intimidatingly large, those pages are full of the most expressive and wonderful phrases and that’s not to mention the amazing concept of the book in the first place. As excited as I was to see Lair of Dreams, I was worried that it wouldn’t capture me in the same way or that the magic was all contained in book one. Both of which were sort of futile worries, because although it wasn’t on the same level as The Diviners, it was still pretty spectacular, it just wasn’t as strong a novel.
Maybe saying this isn’t as strong as the Diviners is unfair, Lair of Dreams is a great book, the historical, supernatural, mystery and romance elements of it are well balanced and well presented, the characters are all interesting and keep you on your toes, I think my problem was that I read this too soon after finishing the Diviners, maybe I was a little over saturated with Libba Bray’s brilliant story telling. Whatever it was, this just didn’t have quite the same atmosphere. Perhaps, I was so engulfed in the Diviners because I had never come across something quite like it before that when I picked up the sequel almost immediately afterwards and found myself in the same world with the same characters, it didn’t have quite the same punch. I think this might be because I actually scared myself to the point of sleeplessness with the first book, John Hobbes was a great villain and the mystery surrounding the deaths was really creepy, the level of creep wasn’t the same with Lair of Dreams, though it was still spine tinglingly clever, it didn’t leave me with any ‘I can’t possibly sleep, what if a ghost tries to murder me, wait, what if I’m awake and a ghost tries to murder me? OH DEAR GOD WHAT WOULD DEAN WINCHESTER DO? Where do I keep the salt? Will my mum notice if I throw salt all over the house?’ – type feels. Whatever it was, I preferred the first one, but that shouldn’t put you off, Lair of Dreams is magnificent.
The series, in case you hadn’t gathered, is great, it’s set in the 1920s, full of amazing slang and interesting supernatural goings on, the only real downside I had with it is that like a Game of Thrones novel, it has a lot of characters, the majority of which narrate certain chapters, I had thought, since I managed to finish and enjoy the Diviners that I would find the sequel less confusing… I didn’t. There are still a hell of a lot of characters. While I enjoyed diving back into Evie’s world, hearing her sass Sam and seeing the weird tension between her and Jericho and hanging with Memphis and laughing at Henry and Theta try to make it, there were also a few new characters for me to get my head around. If I’m honest, I did get lost on occasion and had to really concentrate to remember who it was I was reading about and what it was they were trying to do.Honestly though – this is entirely a fault with me and not the book, just be warned that this series is going to need a little concentration. Evie is still my favourite character, I adored her throughout the first book, so much sass, so unwilling to behave how society felt she should, the fact that she is now a celebrity come book two is no surprise and just makes me love her even more if I’m honest. One of the amazing things about this series is how, each character is so different, Evie and Theta are both girls that want to be recognised for their talents, they want to be appreciated, they are ambitious and like a party, but they are also worlds apart and overwhelmingly different, despite their similarities. Libba Bray is an incredible creator of characters, but at times, there were just too many for my poor Dan Howell infused brain for me to handle.
This book, like its predecessor, is so much fun to read, even if, like me, you have to pause to remember what character you are reading about, it doesn’t detract from the thrill of the ride. Many modern books feel like they have to tackle a larger issue and part of the beauty of the Diviners series is that it really just takes you back to what reading is supposed to be about, being completely lost in a wonderous story. There are wider issues discussed in a subtle way (bigotry for instance, abusive family situations etc), but primarily, this book is about taking you on a journey and that’s all you really want from a book sometimes! Also, who doesn’t want the language and elegance of the jazz age wrapped up in a paranormal mystery?
There isn’t an awful lot more to say on this subject, other than if you haven’t yet experienced Libba Bray, then you really need to because her writing style is compelling and is likely to leave you feeling a little drunk and also whatever your preferred genre of book is, The Diviners series will be right up your alley.