I read Beauty Queens by Libba Bray a while back and really liked her quirky voice and well-defined characters. Everything I loved in that book was done even better in this YA mystery set in the 1920s.
It’s sort of a mystery, but not in a typical sense. There is a murderer out there, and Evie and company work together to figure out what’s going on and who’s behind it, but there’s also plenty of paranormal supernatural stuff happening around the story, too. The Diviners are those with a special gift to see beyond, like Evie’s ability to touch an item and find out things about the person it belongs to. Though this gets her in trouble sometimes, it’s also quite handy in trying to solve a murder case.
One of my favorite things about Bray’s writing is her characters. They’re all very different and vividly real. Evie, of course, was my favorite, but I loved all the characters in this story, even Uncle Will, who could be difficult at times. Even those meant to be unlikeable, such as Sam, have you feeling sympathetic for them by the end. All the characters are well-rounded with plenty of flaws, but plenty of good qualities to make you root for them, too.
On top of Bray’s awesome characters, this story takes place in the 1920s, which means we get lots of phrases and terms from that time period that we don’t hear too much anymore. I’d heard a few, like “the bee’s knees” or “cat’s pajamas,” but others were new to me, like “pie face,” “jake,” and “sheba.” Though I’m not entirely sure what all of them mean (“pie face” sounds like an insult, but I think means something like “sweet face”?), I enjoyed feeling like I really was back in that time listening to how a bunch of teens might have talked.
This book was just so fun, despite the creepy undertones and the whole murder thing. The way the characters took on the mission, despite the danger and being told not to, made for a tension-filled adventure. The supernatural elements made it much more than just a mystery story. This book, especially after reading Beauty Queens, has made me a huge Libba Bray fan. Can’t wait to read more!
The Goodreads Description
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.
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Did you read it? What did you think?