Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
on August 25th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic, Historical, United States, 21st Century, Lifestyles, City & Town Life, Girls & Women
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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?
Opening sentences: Every city is a ghost. New buildings rise upon the bones of the old so that each shiny steel beam, each tower of brick carries within it the memories of what has gone before, an architectural haunting.
Back in 2012, I fell in love with The Diviners. I know and understand why it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but, for me, it offered a whirlwind blend of genres – historical, supernatural, horror, humour, romance – and balanced them all perfectly. It became an instant favourite.
Is Lair of Dreams as good as its magical prequel? Not quite. But it is a worthy second book. One which reminded me why I was so easily drawn into this alternate 1920s New York City that Libba Bray has created. There are new faces, new horrors, new mysteries and yet, beneath it all, the book maintains the pull introduced by The Diviners. I can sum it up in one completely underrated word – atmosphere.
They’re too tired for bathing, but they’re not too tired for dreams. 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.
Bray has weaved a fictional supernatural story into a very real historical setting and it works beautifully. The historical aspects are full of what we would expect from this era – flappers, jazz, speakeasies, illegal liquor, as well as the darker side – racism, suspicion and fear. Libba Bray has chosen her words carefully, making you almost able to smell the air and hear jazz music playing somewhere in the distance.
Into this setting comes the supernatural (this time featuring a sleeping sickness and dream walkers) and it is no less atmospheric than the historical. Imagine that alongside the jazz clubs, flappers and speakeasies there also exists a world of ghosts, Diviners and the occult. Imagine New York City in all its wonderful, messy glory… full of mysteries, full of the supernatural.
The atmosphere was as strong as I remember. I was also thrilled to see the familiar characters of Evie, Sam and Jericho, though they appeared less in this book to make room for Ling, George and Henry. If you follow my reviews, you probably know that I hardly ever give out five stars and four stars is a high rating for me. The Diviners was a rare five star book. This one, however, just missed out because the supernatural mystery wasn’t quite as strong or deliciously creepy as the last one. And, really, who can compete with Naughty John? *shivers*
Not that it wasn’t an engaging and frightening idea:
In sleep, their fingers stiffen as they try to fight back against the terror invading their minds. For the dream knows their fears as well as their desire. It can make them see anything. Unspeakable nightmares surround the men now.
The Diviners is a difficult book to follow, that’s for sure. But I don’t think fans will be disappointed.
I'm Emily May - a twenty-something year old book blogger from the North of England. Currently going wherever the wind or the storyline takes me. Find me on Goodreads
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