Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
I received a copy of this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to “read” objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners’ abilities…
Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?
The Diviners is one of my favorite series and the latest installment did not disappoint! Libba Bray’s style of writing will keep you hooked on the story and engaged with the characters. I love the incorporation of language and slang of the 1920s. It makes the characters feel more real and relatable to their setting of 1920s New York. From the very first page, the reader is transported back in time to the roaring twenties complete with flappers, speakeasies, bright lights and dreams.
The characters are just as captivating as the setting. Evie: the bright young flapper, Mabel: the daughter of communist leaning parents, Theta: the showgirl with a secret past, Sam: the charming but devious pickpocket, Memphis: the Harlem healer poet, Jericho: strong and silent with a hidden background, and Henry: the closeted pianist with big dreams. I usually dislike novels with even just three or more perspectives. In any other novel, that many points of view would be completely overwhelming but in Lair of Dreams it works. I felt myself loving every character and not rushing through one characters view to get to another. Bray uses a wide variety of cultures and experiences to create a distinct personality for each character. All were equally captivating.
On top of the previously mentioned characters, who all appeared in the first installment, The Diviners, Bray introduces a new character, Ling. Ling’s father is a Chinese immigrant while her mother is an Irish immigrant. On top of her ethnic background, Ling has to wear braces on her legs to walk. In a time where any one of those things would inspire deep prejudice against her, Bray throws all of them together which makes Ling’s experiences in and reactions to her time truly fascinating. Ling is also the most pivotal character in this novel due to her ability to walk in dreams and contact the dead.
Just as in the Diviners, Lair of Dreams develops spooky and paranormal underbelly of 1920s New York City. There are conspiracies, new diviner powers, secret government agencies. There are dream worlds, mysterious sicknesses, and a mysterious figure in a stovepipe hat. There are so many different elements intertwined in the narrative, yet it does not feel overwhelming.
One of my favorite things about the novel is the sheer amount of research put in to make the setting as realistic as possible. Bray uses real places, real figures, and real events to ground her story so that the paranormal does not seem so far fetched. When the most mundane details are as realistic as possible, the impossible seems like reality. The use of the dream world and the danger it poses seemed like a play on the idea of the “American Dream.” Just as in real dreams, it is not always what it seems.
- Strong and diverse characters
- Expertly interwoven experiences of the characters and plot
- Captivating language and details that make the 1920s come alive
The Not So Good
- I really liked the original cover for the Diviners! I wish they didn’t do the redesign.
One hundred percent! I cannot wait for the next installment! Which I will have to wait even longer for as this title is not even out yet!