At its heart The Diviner’s is an average adventure story with a touch of horror thrown in to keep the reader from feeling too comfortable. It’s got some decent ideas and a few good turns of phrase that keep it from becoming unpleasant, but by the end it felt so ordinary and safe I couldn’t even bring myself to feel disappointed.
It’s not bad. As I’ve said it’s an adequate enough story. An attempt at a period piece that tries too hard with too little to be legitimately transporting. Sure there are speakeasies, burlesque shows, wise-cracking thieves, and the eugenics movement even makes a rather heavy-handed appearance, but when the blank’s blank (most often the tried and true ‘cat’s meow’) is 40% of your dialogue’s 1920 repertoire, I’m going to start flinching in lieu of smiling.
Then there is my issue with the ending, the sudden and arbitrary use of the word ‘holy’ in order to properly discard the antagonist. It feels convenient, a hurried means of tying together this particular threat so that the remaining space can be dedicated to building up the inevitable sequel: a bigger more eviler evil to fight as our titular Diviners form some folksy form of the Justice League.
God, I always have this problem with YA. This book was given to me by a coworker who insisted that I would like it (I work with teens and I suppose by necessity should be more aware of what they are reading), but I’ve come to the conclusion I’m too old, read too many books to forgive things that teenagers would never notice. Were I fourteen I am certain I would have loved this book. I would think it clever, atmospheric, and relish the ending as opposed to being rendered ill-tempered by it.
“There is nothing more terrifying than the absoluteness of one who believes he’s right.” ― Libba Bray, The Diviners