The Diviners by Libba Bray

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I had started reading Libba Bray’s novel while Nick was deployed and the beginning was so unsettling that I had to put it away until he got home.

So home he came and I figured something that scared me that much was perfect holiday reading and made it my goal to get the book finished while we were in Nebraska. Granted, I had over half of it read before we even left.

The novel is absolutely brilliant, a kind of 1920’s X-Men meets religious-creepiness. I maintain the freakiest part of the novel was the murderer quoting “scripture” as he stalked his victims. Totally horrifying.

The thing I liked most about The Diviners was that I didn’t particularly like the protagonist, Evie. She did a lot of growing up through the novel but when she gets out of control she just keeps going, full steam ahead, while being completely aware that she’s out of control. It gets her in to trouble, and it makes her a believable character, but it did have me going “Well, what did you think was going to happen?” quite a bit.

The pacing of the novel (at least the first three-fourths) was perfect. As we reached the climax it began skipping around a lot and quite a few loose ends were left dangling. I’m wondering if Bray hadn’t quite decided on writing a second novel until this point.

All I can say is that the real bad guy better be awesome because John Hobbes is the kind of guy nightmares have nightmares about.

 

Abarat by Clive Barker

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Abarat originally came out in 2002 and I remember loving it. Then the sequel, Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War, came out in 2006. And the third and final installment, Abarat: Absolute Midnight, just released this year. Needless to say, I’d lost track of the series.

But Abarat was still as perfect as I remember. The story is rather simple: girl whisked away on a magical adventure finds that she has a secret. However, Barker (as usual) fills the world of Abarat with such fantastic, detailed characters that it’s easy to fall back into the story. If possible, try to get an older copy of the book (the trade paper size) that has Barker’s illustrations in it. They help to put a face to the characters (or many faces, as with John Mischief).

And, as of now, I’m still rooting for Christopher Carrion. Because he just seems so sad.