I felt like I got off to a rocky start with this book. It took me a few times to come back to it. And honestly? I only kept coming back because I’d said I would write about it on this blog.
I’m a fan of Libba Bray–I adored A Great and Terrible Beauty–so I had high expectations for this book. Maybe that was my problem?
It wasn’t a bad book, per se. And I understand that it’s part of a series where, hopefully, more of the characters and a better plot will be flushed out. As it stands now, I found it so much more lackluster than I anticipated.
Spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.
The plot revolves around Evie, a Diviner able to read the history of an object just by touching it, as she helps her Uncle Will hunt for a serial killer in New York during the Roaring 20’s. Naturally, the police turn to her Uncle because he’s well versed in the occult. They consult and Evie tags along because who wouldn’t want to see the scene of a crime?
Can you think of what happens next?
Well, you’re probably right. For a mystery (which, at it’s core, I think is what Bray was going for, just with supernatural elements thrown in for good measure), it was fairly easy to figure out considering the clues were practically placed in Evie’s lap. Memphis tells you about the creepy house that’s absolutely necessary to the plot. Joseph Call tells her exactly what she needs to know about the Brethren. A quick little divining tells her exactly how to beat The Beast. It just all fell together without much work on Evie’s part–though, to be fair, she did spend one day researching in the library.
I kept waiting for something in the main plot to go horribly wrong: for the spell not to work, for one of their leads not to pan out, for the police to really put a damper on their investigation (instead of pinching Uncle Will for a night and giving him a slap on the wrist after Evie sets the creepy house on fire…with the body inside…and without gathering any evidence to prove Uncle Will’s innocence). But it never really happened. Things worked out beautifully for Evie.
Not so much in her day-to-day life, which, to me, felt as if Bray liked that part of the story the best (and the mystery was thrown in as an afterthought, to, you know, give it some umph). That’s where she screwed up, where things didn’t go her way, where mistakes were made–usually on Evie’s part. That felt more three dimensional to me, instead of the mystery, which is what I was hoping would be the most complex element.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad book. It just wasn’t as impressive as I was expecting. It’s worth a read if you’re enamored with flappers and speakeasies…not so much if you want a mystery.