Evie is a small town girl at the hight of the roaring 20s and she is pos-i-tute-ly going to be a big deal someday. When she’s whisked off to go live with her uncle in New York City it’s just the thing for a modern girl wearing just the cutest cloche hat.
Only Evie’s not just another flapper looking for a cute fella with access to giggle juice. She has the power to see into personal history by touching a personal item. And her power draws her into some dangerous circles as a horrifying killer stalks the streets, and worse, these ritual killings may be the tip of something even worse. There are portents of doom everywhere, a storm is coming, and Evie isn’t the only one with powers she doesn’t understand.
The Diviners is clearly a well-researched novel, peppered with 1920’s slang, an appealing cast of characters, and enough peril and magic to keep lovers of The Raven Boys or Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel engaged. Basically it has all the elements of my catnip in it.
BUT (there’s always a but).
The Diviners has many too moving pieces (this lovely fan art only shows some of the major characters moving through this briskly-plotted story). While there are many charming characters (each with their own special power), like every show on the CW, they’re cute but have no real character development. Theta is the sassy showgirl with a mysterious past. Jericho is the tall smart dude. Sam is the sexy trickster. They’re all given vague motivations that hint at backstory without really establishing real agency. Some are so loosely connected with the primary plotline that they could have easily been removed entirely.
And maybe my biggest issue with The Diviners is that it reads like a sloppy origin tale. This is Evie’s book (although she shares the stage with a big cast). She’s the primary protagonist who drives most of the basic “tracking down the killer” plot. But each chapter focused on a different character, many of which were simply treading water. Clearly they’re all being introduced so they can take the spotlight in future books, but they’re given almost nothing to do here. Also despite the mystical murderer traipsing about, Evie and crew were only barely in danger, so much of the story lacked a sense of urgency.
The book ends with some hints that future books will engage the broad cast of characters and their powers. It’s shaping up like some sort of flapper-esque Justice League. I’m interested enough to be curious to see where she goes with this interesting world. However this is definitely a series to pick up at the Library vs. Amazon. Great premise, shaky execution.