Lair of Dreams (Diviners #2) – Libba Bray
Release Date: 25th August 2015 (UK)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
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?(I received this book from Netgalley for review – this does not effect my opinion)
Where do I begin with this book? I had a love/hate relationship with The Diviners, which grew into a love with occasional dislike relationship after I managed to get through the book. It had elements which bothered me, but overall I loved far more than I disliked, so I was obviously excited for the release of this book. I was straight in there when I saw it available to request on NetGalley and I was excited to get reading. You can imagine my annoyance when I once more experienced a love/hate feeling about this book.
I don’t want to be negative because I loved so many things within this book, but it would wrong for me not to be honest with you all. The writing is fantastic, I cannot fault Bray and her writing skills. She keeps the characters voices feeling very true to the era, she has all the colloquialisms down for Jazz era America. The colloquialisms, much as they were in the first book, can be a bit off-putting when you first begin reading, but they are easy to get used to. You can tell she has done plenty of research in putting this book together, it comes through in her writing that she has put the effort in to know what she’s talking about, which I appreciate. Whenever I read any book with a historical setting I like to see an author put in at least some effort to make it true to the era, and Bray does that and then some.
My complaint is more that the story felt very confusing, this is partly my own fault for not remembering the story of The Diviners well enough, I did find it hard to recall the details of the book, making it difficult picking the story back up, but I also feel it is slightly an error in the writing. Usually, when reading a series, you at least get bits of the story rehashed to you to help readers recall the details of the last book so they are not left confused, I don’t feel there was enough of that recapping in this book. You very much dive into the deep end and it is a case of sink or swim when it comes to the story. That was frustrating for me, especially as Bray has so many different characters and interlinking stories on the go making it so easy to become confused. That put me off as I was reading because I just couldn’t grasp everything which was going on. At some points in the book you can small reminders to help trigger your memory, but they happened later in the book, not at the beginning as I would have liked.
Another complaint is in regards to Bray’s multitude of characters and their interwoven stories. On the one hand, it was great to have a full cast of characters who were all well developed and had their own stories which helped to progress a greater story arc, I loved that, but at the same time it felt a bit much. I sometimes felt what I gained with the smaller individuals story was not worth the loss I had in an over-arcing storyline. The greater storyline got a bit lost in this book. It was easier to follow the direction of the story in The Diviners, you could see how the individual stories worked together. You can see how they work together in this one, but not until the end, and that occasionally felt a bit forced. I don’t know, it’s a small complaint, but it did feel liked you were following too many different stories and it got a bit confusing. It also meant the story progressed slower than I would have liked, the stories all seem completely independent so it was hard to stay interested until you realise how things become linked together, and then you can’t put the book down, but that didn’t happen until about halfway in for me. Now, that may be that I was not paying enough attention, I don’t know. It didn’t prevent me from enjoying the book, anyway.
My final issue is more my own fault than Bray’s, she wrote such a fantastic story in The Diviners which had so many open ended questions you were hoping would be picked up on the second book and you just did not get enough of that. That is more from it being its own series, Bray wants to leave this questions opened to keep you interested, and I am, but I think I would have preferred it if she at least answered a few of the questions and then raised more, instead you get no answers and just have more questions you are waiting to be answered. It is not even a major complaint, just a minor frustration at the path the books are taking. I hate the not knowing and Bray is definitely keeping plenty of mystery back.
Those were my major complaints about this book, I’ve gotten them out of the way and off of my chest, so I want to move on to what I loved. When the story picked up it was gripping. I spent Sunday evening glued to this book needing to know what was going to happen. I loved Evie’s story, and she definitely grew on me after the first book, and I wanted to discover more about Sam and his mother. Then there was Jericho, he did not get enough attention because his story is only going to get better as time goes on, the hints of his story in this book were fantastic. And Trista, she found anew place in my heart, I only wish there was more of her and she had the opportunity to open up to someone sooner. And as for Henry, I adore that boy, I’m a sucker for anything New Orleans related, but his story was perfect , I’m glad we got to see more of him in this book because it was so interesting. Also, can I say it was nice to meet the new characters of Ling, she was a breath of fresh air because she was so easy for me to like. Basically, Bray’s cast of characters was fantastic, they are some of the most well-developed cast of characters I’ve seen in a long time, and it really is a cast. This is a world where each character seems to have a genuine life mapped out for them and you can tell this in Bray’s writing, I love that no matter how small their role they always seem real. That is a skill not all authors possess so I am in awe of Bray’s skill in that sense.
This book takes a lot of things which bothered and frustrated me and combines them together into something I really enjoyed. Bray may know how to annoy the hell out of me with some aspects of her books, but she also leaves me in awe of her writing abilities, character development and the sheer amount of research that must have gone in to make these books feel so real. I was amazed that a character that had annoyed me when I began The Diviners could become one of my favourite characters with such ease. All the things that frustrated me about the character of Evie became the things which I adored about her. It is not simple author which can do that. I spent the first half of the book confused and almost a bit bored, and then Bray some how sucked me into a story that quickly came together and showed it to me from every possible angle. It was immense.
No matter what issues I have with this book I cannot help liking it. I could easily recommend it to you, and if you haven’t read The Diviners yet, well what are you waiting for? Go pick it up and read, this is a series which has a lot to offer, it is complex and gripping and everything you could want from a book, and so incomparable to anything I’ve read before.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book and The Diviners. Are there any books you’ve ever read that annoyed the hell out of you in countless ways, but you loved it anyway? And have you ever found yourself adoring a character which started off hating?