Audiobook Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Published by Little, Brown BYR on September 18, 2012

Length: 18 hours, 14 min

Narrator: January LaVoy

Source: bought the audiobook from

Plot Summary of The Diviners by Libba Bray

It's the roaring 20's, and party girl Evangeline "Evie" O'Neill causes a scandal in small  town Ohio and gets shipped off to Manhattan to live with her Uncle Will, who runs a museum focused on the supernatural and occult. 

But when gruesome murders begin to occur all over the city, the police ask Will for his expert opinion. But Evie has a secret. She has a paranormal ability that might help crack the case -- or put her within the killer's reach.

Audiobook Review of The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners is impressive on so many levels. It's a hefty (nearly 600 page) historical mystery featuring a large cast of characters, a great deal of historical detail, and that tricky "intersecting lives" kind of plot structure, in which a bunch of different storylines slowly merge into one.

Libba Bray is one of my auto-buy authors. She has the most amazing imagination and I always enjoy getting a little peek into it. The Gemma Doyle books are one of my favorite YA series and it made me happy that The Diviners also features a historical setting and paranormal elements. I also enjoyed Bray's off-the-wall contemporary satire Beauty Queens. (I listened to Libba Bray read it herself on audio and she was awesome. The audiobook even won a "best of 2011" award from AudioFile magazine in the YA category.)

Odd as it might sound, I also see parallels between Beauty Queens and The Diviners, namely the big casts of characters from all walks of life, and the multiple third person POVs that slowly begin to converge. January LaVoy, the narrator of the audio version of The Diviners, was a phenomenal reader. She made each and every one of the literally dozens of characters sound unique and authentic.

To me, the most amazing part of The Diviners was the amount of historical detail included in the story. This isn't one of those books about the 1920s that just throws in a few flappers and a couple of Prohibition references and calls it a day. It's clear that an enormous amount of research went into The Diviners, which not only features slang of the time but incorporates a lot of history -- from the aftereffects of World War I to the Eugenics movement to1920s Harlem nightlife. The story also features a very unexpected and cool steampunk-ish twist that I was not expecting at all.

The fact that The Diviners includes so many points of view and so much historical detail does mean that the book's plot moves at a fairly deliberate pace -- it takes some time and patience on the part of the reader before all the various strands of the plot begin to weave together. For this reason, I think the book is probably a good fit for older teens and adult readers of YA.

Speaking of time and patience, after listening to nearly 600 pages read over the course of eighteen hours, I would have been a little peeved to be left dangling on one of those ever-popular YA cliffhanger endings. I am happy to report that I was not. The killer is apprehended and the police investigation wrapped up, while the book still hints at more intrigue to come. Yes, this book will take up a big chunk of your time, but it is time well spent!

This post was originally published in November 2012 on YA Romantics.


  1. I have been put off reading this just by its heft; I figured it would be worth it but I just didn't have the time to commit to it. But I love what you say about all the historical info especially post WWI life, a weakness of mine.

  2. I still need to read this. I just keep looking at how big it is and then I end up picking up something else.

    I like the middle cover the best, but I completely fell in love with the hardcover underneath the dust jacket on the US one. So pretty!

  3. I so have to get this book now! I have heard nothing but great things about this author :)

  4. Shame on me, I haven't read this one yet, or actually anything by her.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  5. DEFINITELY time well spent. I'm so glad you loved it! Personally, I like this cover the best. I think it's Italian? Also, I loved how well-researched this novel was, too. Made it so authentic and fun. I know some who thought it was too much or didn't like the time period, but if I had the chance, I'd definitely give life in the 20s a try. :)

  6. Great review! I keep hearing so many great things about The Diviners. I do own a copy but I've been hesitant to pick it up because of the length, and I'm not sure how I feel about historical fictions! I get picky. :P

  7. I am loving this audiobook. I am still only a little more than half done, but it's so good!! Great review!!

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  9. I never got into audiobooks. No idea when I would listen to one...

  10. The more I hear about this book the more I'm convinced I need to read it. I haven't read anything by Libba Bray yet and I feel like this would be a great introduction to her work. I'll probably buy the book though, because I don't think i have the patience to listen to someone read such a long book to me! Great review, Jen!

    Jesse @ Pretty In Fiction

  11. I have not read this author, but this book has been on my've convince me..this is going on my list

  12. I LOVED this book! I've read Beauty Queens and Going Bovine and like them both very much, but The Diviners was just stellar. The author did a fantastic job of creating 1920s New York, and the supernatural elements were very creepy and effective. One of my favorite books of 2012!

    Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies

  13. Fabulous review! I LOVE the 3rd cover above, the black one. Where can I find that pretty blouse with the lacy sleeves??:)

    I thought this book was phenomenal, definitely one of my favorite reads of the year. I loved all the different characters and POVs, and I LOVED how creepy it was. Memphis Campbell stole my heart. And the writing! Beautiful!

    I may have to email you. I'm dying to hear what you think about Evie and her romantic interest(s):)

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jen!

  14. You. Have. Convinced. Me.

    I have to admit the cover didn't catch my attention. The AUS one kinda did, since it was creepy. So I actually read the summary and I was hooked. Your review made it sound sooo awesome! I don't care if its long, its my kind of book! :) Thanks for the review!

  15. I'm dying to get this book! Long books are lovely, only that time is lacking. D: I also don't usually go audiobooks but your review is swaying me.

    Can't decide if I like the US or AUS cover better, both are equally intriguing! I'm international and we get the paperback edition with the US cover here. :)

  16. I've got a copy of THE DIVINERS coming in the post. YAY!!! So excited about this one.

  17. Gosh! 18 hours! Blimy! I can't listen to audiobooks at all, my mind wanders and I fall asleep. my dad allways used to read to me at bedtime so that's probably why. He does it too though. Took him ages to get through dan brown's latest cause he kept falling asleep. I ended up buying him the paperback in the end!

  18. I really enjoyed this one! And I think I'll enjoy it even more when the rest of the series is wrapped up.

  19. I've been wondering about this one. I'll have to pick it up. Thanks!

  20. I bought the hardcover book because it was absolutely gorgeous! But now I want to listen to the audiobook. :) I'll have to see if the library has it!

    Great review!

  21. I have the hardcover but because it is 600+ pages I think it will sit on my shelf for a while. Great review!


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