Book Review: Lair of Dreams (The Diviners, #2) by Libba Bray

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. My review for the first book in the series can be found here

 

Warning – this review contains spoilers

After falling in love with yet another book by Libba Bray in 2013, I spent the last two years yearning for the next installment and needless to say, I was thrilled when NetGalley approved my request for the ARC of “Lair of Dreams”.

The book picks up sometime after “The Diviners”, and our Evie O’Neill is now a radioshow celebrity, with a title “America’s Sweetheart Seer”. On the surface, she seems po-si-tu-te-ly thrilled with her new role, but as always, nothing is ever as it seems with Libba Bray’s books. Her fallout with “Unc” Will and Jericho isn’t helping anybody, and only Theta and Henry can see that. Or, and Sam Lloyd can too.

Life might be a party for Evie O’Neill but it’s completely opposite for the working class of New York. Not only are they faced with racism and xenophobia every day, but they are also becoming victims of a mysterious “sleeping sickness”. People just seem to die in their sleep and they never wake up. Since The Diviners are the current “trend”, they don’t have to hide anymore, but not everybody is so accepting of their abilities. Can they, with all the obstacles facing them, defeat the sleeping sickness or will they, too, fall into the lair of dreams and become mere ghosts of the New York City? Or will their past get them before they can even try?

 

I’ve waited for “Lair of Dreams” for a long time, and I’m happy to say that it sucked me in from the very first page. However, unlike “The Diviners”, which I read for 9 hours straight and finished in a day, the second installment took me a few days. Firstly, it’s quite a long book, even longer than “The Diviners”. Secondly, and I never thought I’d say this about a book by Libba Bray, “Lair of Dreams” felt long. Several pages’ worth of description added to the overall spooky atmosphere of the series, but there were times when I wanted to get to “the good stuff” faster. Fortunately, the pace picks up about 50% in, and it soon becomes clear that this book serves as a set-up for the third and fourth installments – which is excellent news, although I wish I didn’t have to wait another two years! But that’s the trouble with falling in love with a series – waiting is part of the package.

Was “Lair of Dreams” just as scary as “The Diviners”? No, but that’s not to say it was a boring ride. The villain wasn’t Naughty John’s level of creepy, but they were more compelling and just as interesting. One thing I’ll say for sure – I was quite scared to go to sleep every time I put the book down before bed!

I’ve said in my review of “The Diviners” that the atmosphere might be the best part of the book, but the characters are a close second. The good news is, Libba Bray spent quite a bit of time re-introducing us to most of our favourites and giving us more of their backstory. The most elaborate ones were Henry’s, Will’s, and Sam’s. We learnt a lot about them and the questions I had at the end of Book 1 were answered, to an extent, but now I have even more questions! Sam Lloyd, you said it – “Every time we get one answer it leaves us with twelve new questions”.

We are also introduced to a new member of The Diviners crew – Ling Chan, a half-Chinese half-Irish science aficionado who forges a close friendship with Henry and helps him find his old lover, Louis. I quite enjoyed reading her chapters and I’m looking forward to more of her interaction with other characters. Reading about the racism she faced was not pleasant at the slightest, but we should all remember – “we have rights as human beings“. History doesn’t paint a pretty picture, but let’s hope we can incorporate that quote into our daily lives and remember it well.

I do have one issue with character chapters in this book – my favourite characters from Book 1 had very few chapters. While Evie still remained the protagonist of the series, Memphis Campbell had only five chapters, if that. Based on my previous experience with Libba Bray’s books, I’d say that this means he’s going to die, and that would be absolutely awful! I loved him and his relationship with Theta, but given the ending of “Lair of Dreams”, the bliss might be short-lived. That’s what I want from the next installment – more Memphis and Isaiah! And the mystery of Blind Bill to be solved. And many other mysteries to be solved. And The Divinevengers to take down the new Big Bad and live to tell the tale. All of them.

“Lair of Dreams” was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and while it wasn’t as amazing as “The Diviners”, it was a great set-up to the big finales! I give it a rating of 8/10.

P.S.If you don’t want to know a major spoiler, please skip the next paragraph:

SPOILER The best thing I learnt from “Lair of Dreams” isn’t that Sam Lloyd is a better man than we gave him credit for. Nor is it that Uncle Will Fitzgerald is much more shady than I thought. It’s that I finally have confirmation that “The Gemma Doyle” series and “The Diviners” series take place in the same ‘verse! Read “Lair of Dreams” to find out more. END SPOILER

 

Favourite quotes

“For dreams, too, are ghosts, desires, chased in sleep, gone by morning. The longing of dreams draws the dead, and this city holds many dreams”.

“And dreams are like a library card, if you will, that provide access to this great archive of shared symbols, memories and experiences”

“We are a democracy, sir, and Diviners are evidence of that democracy and of the proof that all men and women are created equal. For these gifts have been given in equal measure to people of all races and creeds, regardless of sex, whether rich or poor”

 

Recommendations

You might enjoy “The Diviners” series if you liked:

“The Greaty Gatsby” by F. S. Fitzgerald 

“Daisy Gumm Majesty Mysteries” by Alice Duncan

“The Cure for Dreaming” by Cat Winters

“Supernatural” TV series

 

Have you read “The Diviners” series? Do you love Libba Bray as much as I do? Please let me know in the comments! 🙂

Book Review: The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

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This is my first Cat Winters book. I found it when I was looking for books like Libba Bray’s a few months ago.

Olivia Mead’s rebellious ways of being a suffragette and reading gothic novels aren’t welcomed in Portland in 1900. However, that doesn’t stop her and her friends from fighting for women’s rights. On the day of her 17th birthday on Halloween, Olivia attends a performance by a magician named Henri Reverie and his pianist sister Genevieve. She volunteers to be the subject of Henri’s hypnosis and the magician astonishes the audience by his performance. The next day, however, Olivia’s conservative father confronts her about being a suffragette and employs Henri to remove these thoughts and inclinations out of her head. Henri, however, gives Olivia a great and terrible gift instead – to be able to see the people of the world for who they truly are while being unable to speak her thoughts out loud. Despite her father’s and her suitor’s efforts to deter her, Olivia is even more determined to speak her mind and enters into a dangerous alliance with the illusionist who is not at all what he appears to be. Will Olivia, Henri and their friends be able to change the world? Or will her spirit be broken by the anti-feminist Americans?

 

I had two problems with this book. Firstly, it was too short. Secondly, it doesn’t have a sequel.

Yes, it was that good. Cat Winters’ atmospheric and bone-chilling writing had me glued to my Kindle from the first page onwards. I devoured “The Cure for Dreaming” in six hours, only getting up to get snacks! Last time I was this into a book this much was when I read Rachel Hawkins’ “Rebel Belle”. The way Winters weaves the story of Olivia against the world is gripping and haunts the reader long after she puts the book down. The amount of detail is staggering but in no way overwhelming to the reader. On the contrary – it only adds to the creepy factor and will give you goosebumps. Because this is a horror story.

It would be unfair to any girl who’s ever had to fight for something to call it anything other than a horror tale. A young member of the suffrage movement has the whole world against her, and people like her father do their best to put an end to her rebellion. What used to be the reality  for many girls only a hundred years ago seems terrifying for women today, and I hope that a hundred years from now, the sexism in today’s society would seem just as terrifying and unbelievable to women who aren’t born yet. Writers like Winters, who cleverly use literary devices to illustrate the dangers of misogynistic societies in their books are important. As an example, Olivia’s father hires Henri to make it difficult for his daughter to talk about controversial topics and to silence her on the subject of feminism. Henri, however, hypnotises Olivia to instead see the world as how it truly is, which can be argued to be a metaphor of how women used to be, and still are, frequently become victims of gaslighting when it’s convenient for men in their lives. By making Olivia see the ugly nature of the people, Henri accomplishes the opposite of Olivia’s father’s wishes. Instead of curing her of her dreams, he just makes her even more determined. The even scarier element of his hypnosis is that Olivia cannot express her anger – instead, she must say “All is well”. This is terrifying. Removing a chance to say NO is terrifying to any woman.

However, this story is not all dark and depressing. Olivia’s friendships with her female friends is great – I love reading stories where women support each other, like warning you that a cute rich classmate is a creep and a sexual predator, or like raising money for your dream to go to college. And I surprisingly enjoyed the brief romance between Olivia and Henri – and I most certainly loved when the third part of the love triangle turned out to be a lot creepier when Olivia got her powers! The best thing was, however, that Olivia did at the end manage to make a difference. Again, Cat Winters’ genius allegoric use of paranormal was wonderful to read.

So, yes, this book is scary. And it will make you angry and frustrated. And possibly afraid of monsters in your dreams. But it’s so damn good. And definitely not my last Cat Winters – can’t wait for “The Uninvited”! My rating for “The Cure for Dreaming” is 8.5/10 – I do wish it were longer!

 

Favourite quotes

“I just think he’s a snob, that’s all. And snobs are only fun in Austen novels”

“No one should ever be silenced. Not you. Not me. Not any other woman or man. Please, open your eyes and see, we’re all on the same side. We’re all being treated as second-class citizens. Why are you just sitting beside your husbands and fathers and accepting this rubbish?”

“Females are raised to become rational, industrious, fair and compassionate human beings. Males are taught to sow their wild oats and run free while they’re able. Which gender is truly the most prepared to make decisions about the management of a country” Do you want a responsible individual or a rambunctious one choosing the fate of our government?”

 

Dreamcast

Olivia Mead – Troian Belissario (I know she’s too old to play a high schooler but she’s just so good at being the leading feminist lady)

Henri Reverie – Jake T. Austin

 

Recommendations

You might like “The Cure for Dreaming” if you liked:

Any book by Libba Bray

“The Fall” by Bethany Griffin

“A Mad, Wicked Folly” by Sharon Biggs Waller

“Dracula” by Bram Stoker

Have you read any Cat Winters’ books? What are your favourite books about suffragettes? Do you have any recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

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After devouring the feast that is The Gemma Doyle Trilogy, I was left longing for more books by Libba Bray. Unfortunately, the only book that has so far been published in the UK is The Diviners, so I requested it in my local library. I feel I should tell you that I accidentally read it for 9 hours straight yesterday, forgetting all the things on my to-do list! I don’t normally review series but since the next book isn’t out until August, and I loved it so much, I am reviewing it.

This book is set in the 1920s America – the era of the Great Gatsby, flappers and foilers, the years of Prohibition, the time when American dreams came true… The whole “things are not what they seem” and “all that’s gold does not glitter” themes which are very prominent in “Gatsby” can also be seen in “The Diviners”. Evangeline O’Neill, or Evie, has a gift. She can tell a person’s life story just from touching something that belongs to them. After pulling a stunt like that at a party in her small hometown in Ohio, she ruins a rich guy’s relationship and her parents send her to New York to live with her Uncle Will Fitzgerald who works at The Museum of Creepy Crawlies (unfortunately, entirely fictional). Her trip doesn’t start smoothly – upon arriving to the Big Apple, she gets her money stolen by a handsome devil (not in the literal sense as far as we know) Sam Lloyd who is posi-tu-te-ly smarmy and kind of a douche. However, things turn around once she is in the museum and meets her Uncle, her penpal Mabel and an odd, pensive Jericho who works for Uncle Will. Naturally, what’s a girl to do in 1920s New York? Party, of course! She befriends her glamorous neighbours – Theta, who is a star in the Ziegfield show and her roommate Henry who is a future world-class renowned pianist. However, something puts a damper on Evie’s partying. A series of occult-like murders shake New York City and what victims seem to have in common is strange symbols on them and certain body parts of theirs missing. The NYPD asks Evie’s uncle to consult since he is kinda like the Robert Langdon slash Rupert Giles of the 1920s and knows all there is to know about “freaky stuff”. Evie, Jericho and Mr. God-knows-where-he-came-from-but-Evie-is-convinced-he-is-up-to-no-good Sam Lloyd who suddenly pays a visit to the museum and Uncle Will gives him a job help Uncle Will with the case and Evie’s gift eventually comes in handy.

Meanwhile, a young poet named Memphis is trying to live his life as a normal twenty-something romantic – go to parties, meet girls, and secretly dream about being invited to the infamous poetry clubs and gatherings. However, he is burdened by his own gift that seems to be failing him. Also, there is his brother to think about – is he gifted like Memphis is? Or is he possessed by the Devil? And why is their blind neighbour acting so strange?

What Evie, Memphis, Theta and others don’t know is that they are in more danger than they realise – Naughty John is out and about and he will not stop until The Beast is released…

Libba Bray does not disappoint. Like I said, I spent all of yesterday’s afternoon reading The Diviners, as soon as I acquired it from the library. I didn’t think I would like it at first, because I am not the biggest Gatsby fan, but don’t let that put you off if you feel the same way! The Diviners is amazing. I know from my description it seems that Evie is the centre of the story, but Memphis, Theta, Jericho, Sam and others are just as amazing and interesting as her. It was also the first time since “The Thirteenth Tale” that I’ve been scared out of my wits while reading a book – I jumped when my friend rang the doorbell! Libba Bray is an amazing writer and a master at immersing you into the book’s atmosphere – I felt that way while reading The Gemma Doyle Trilogy, but she does so with The Diviners to an even larger extent. I realised only on page 500 or so that this was going to be a part of a series, which made me immensely happy!

Obviously a lot of research went into the book, and you really do feel like you’re roaming the streets of flappers’ New York. Don’t let Naughty John get you though – you can hide in a speakeasy and watch the dancers while drinking gin! Bray doesn’t brush off the negative aspects of the era either – racism was still very prevalent then and the Americans had a mentality of “America is for Americans” and The Chinese Exclusion Act as well as the Immigration Act were coming into force then. To quote Libba from author’s note – “Often, the monsters we create in our imagination are not nearly as frightening as the monstrous acts perpetrated by ordinary human beings in the aim of one cause or another”. This is one of the many lessons Evie and others learn during their character development, which I felt was somewhat lacking in The Gemma Doyle series. However, Libba more than makes up for it in The Diviners, and I simply cannot wait until August to read “Lair of Dreams”! My rating of The Diviners is 9/10 – would have been 10/10 if I didn’t have to look up all the 1920s jargon and Libba didn’t hint at the possible love triangle!

Favourite character:

I honestly love them all!

Most relatable character:

Evie – I like the way Libba wrote her as a realistic seventeen-year-old woman who doesn’t have all the answers yet and is willing to learn and yet have fun!

Character who gets the most development:

Again, Evie

Favourite relationship:

Petition to nominate Evie, Will, Jericho and Sam as the honorary Scooby Gang – I want a TV series of them solving freaky crimes!

Favourite quote:

“There is no greater power on this earth than story. People think boundaries and borders build nations. Nonsense – words do. Beliefs, declarations, constitutions – words. Stories. Myths. Lies. Promises. History.”
“Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on. Cuts your throat and takes your bones, sells ‘em off for a coupla stones.”

Dreamcast:

Evie O’Neill – Leven Rambin or Jennifer Lawrence
Memphis Campbell – John Boyega
Theta Knight – Kat Dennings
Will Fitzgerald – Anthony Head – he’s so much like Giles I can’t picture him as anyone else
Jericho – Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Sam Lloyd – no idea. Young David Boreanaz is the only one I can picture

Recommendations

You might like “The Diviners” if you liked:
Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray;
The Great Gatsby by F. S. Fitzgerald;
Among Others by Jo Walton;
“Supernatural” and “Pretty Little Liars”