Review | Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray

Before the Devil Breaks You cover
New York City.
1927.
Lights are bright.
Jazz is king.
Parties are wild.
And the dead are coming…

After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that early claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough of lies. They’re more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward’s Island, far from the city’s bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten–ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows.

With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over, and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them fact-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they’ve ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation–a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves.

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The only thing that has disappointed me so far with this series is the constant cover changes (seriously, please pick a scheme and stick with it, I need my series to match). After what seems like a 240284 year wait, I’m thrilled to say that Before the Devil Breaks You was wonderfully creepy and utterly perfect; if this series wasn’t already on my “all-time-favourites” list, it definitely would be after this book.

Before the Devil Breaks You is the highest-stakes Diviners book yet, and it’s also the creepiest. There are plenty of ghosts to go around, and further exploration of the 1920s political climate (racism, eugenics programs and the treatment of mentally ill individuals) adds extra weight to an already dark read.

Instead of focusing on any particular Diviner duo, Before the Devil Breaks You is group-oriented, letting all of the characters take their turn in the spotlight. While Evie and Theta will always hold special places in my heart, all of the characters have significant (and often unexpected) character arcs, some of which made me gasp out loud. I can’t wait to see where they go next.

Saturday Showcase (October 25)

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Saturday Showcase is a weekly event hosted here at The In-Between Place which features books that you wish more people had read (or, at least, heard about).

This week’s featured book is The Diviners by Libba Bray.

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

The Diviners is beautifully written and atmospheric, and takes place in one of my favourite time periods: the Roaring Twenties. It’s also wonderfully creepy: from serial killers to demonic possessions, it’s the perfect choice for a Halloween read.

What are some of your favourite underrated books? Leave a list in the comments below.
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