Friday, November 23, 2018

Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray

Reviewed by Christy
After battling a sleeping sickness in the Lair of Dreams, the Diviners are back in the third installment of Libba Bray’s Diviners series. Picking up shortly after the previous novel, the Diviners (a group of young people with special powers) are now facing a ghost epidemic that’s haunting New York City.
            It’s the late 1920s and New York City’s love for all things Diviners is dwindling. Sweetheart Seer Evie has her own radio show where she “reads” guests’ objects to find out their secrets. Once a fan favorite, Evie’s star is dimming in the shadow of another radio host: evangelical Sara Snow. In an attempt to get some of her shine back, Evie announces she and her friends will be traveling to Ward’s Island – home of a very haunted mental hospital – to publicly forgive a man who previously attacked her. She also sets up a hotline for anyone in NYC calling about ghost sightings that the Diviners can investigate, like a Jazz Age Ghostbusters. A barrier between worlds has been torn and with more and more apparitions spilling out, it’s up to the Diviners to figure out how to fix it.
            While this novel didn’t grab me as quickly as the previous novel did, it was still very compelling in its own right. As with the other installments, there are a handful of little plots going on at once but it never feels overcrowded or convoluted. There are so many characters with diverse backgrounds and personalities, that I imagine it’d be difficult to not be able to connect with at least one of them. While each book has its own storyline, I am partial to the overarching menace known as the King of Crows – a tall man in a stovepipe hat who wears a coat of inky black feathers. He stalks dreams and seems to control the ghosts who haunt the city.
            Before the Devil Breaks You is a lot of fun but, like the other Diviners books, it also heavily touches on issues still relevant today – especially racism and xenophobia – despite taking place some 90 years ago. With three books in the series and each book over 500 pages long, I could see why it could be intimidating for someone to pick up. But I would highly recommend these books to almost anyone, even those who think a series can’t keep them interested. Each book is just as engaging as the last, and even though the fourth book still has no title or release date, I don’t expect my interest to wane in the meantime.

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