I received this book for free from Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
Series: The Diviners #2
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on August 25th, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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?
Last year I read and fell in love with Libba Bray’s writing in The Diviners, so even though its sequel counts a daunting 624 pages, I dove right in and got swept up in it all again. Lair of Dreams cements The Diviners as one of my favorite ongoing series. (We won’t speak about the cover catastrophe going on here.) It’s dark, creative, engrossing, frightening, exciting, and so well-written.
Lair of Dreams picks up quite soon after The Diviners ended, and it doesn’t spend that much time catching you up – but for once that’s not much of a problem. Both installments of this series so far have rather self-contained plots each with one paranormal mystery going on, and an over-arching build up to reveal the big baddie pulling all the strings. Hints are dropped when necessary so you do remember the big things that happened in The Diviners. The biggest challenge is remembering who all the characters are, as all of them were established in the previous book. However, soon enough, they’ll steal your heart again.
What makes it so easy to slip back into this series is Libba Bray’s amazing writing. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again and again until the end of time. She creates such an amazing atmosphere with lush descriptions that show a genuine image of the high life of the 1920s and top-notch dialogue that will make you wish you were born in the time of the flappers. Seriously, I’ll be saying everything’s “the elephant’s eyebrows” for about the next month. And I’ll regret nothing.
This time around, the mystery at hand is a fatal, quick-spreading sleeping sickness which the regular citizens of New York believe to be linked to the Chinese immigrants, but actually has a paranormal origin. This means that we explore the clairvoyant skill of dreamwalking a whole lot more in this book, which I thought was so awesome. It’s basically lucid dreaming (think Inception or Dream a Little Dream), which allows for so many creative, vivid scenes. And though this sleeping sickness that the characters work to uncover is arguably less scary than the serial killer in The Diviners, it’s no less deadly. And where come dreams… come nightmares. There are some frightful creatures in this book for sure.
In comparison to The Diviners, I feel like Lair of Dreams is much more cohesive. This series has an ensemble cast, which is a bit challenging to set up. In the first book, Bray spent a lot of time describing each of their back stories, but the characters didn’t really unite until the last half of Lair of Dreams. But now that they ARE becoming a team, the series is getting so much more exciting. It gives me X-Men kind of tingly feelings, with all these dynamic, different characters with different powers uniting for a common purpose. I blazed through those last hundred action-packed pages.
I love how diverse that cast is as well. Since the series is in the ’20s, it would’ve been so easy and probably hardly noticed if the entire cast was white. But we have characters who are white, black, half-Asian/half-Irish, Jewish, LGBT, disabled, abused… basically, no character comes from the same background. And it doesn’t feel like forced all-inclusiveness either. These characters are real. Their struggles are real. The heartbreak is real. And you can’t help but fall for each one of them in small ways.
And it is truly an ensemble cast in that there is no one main character. While Evie was arguably the central figure in The Diviners, Lair of Dreams is primarily Ling and Henry’s story. They’re the two dreamwalkers of the group who have the biggest stake in solving the mystery of the sleeping sickness. So you get to know them pretty well: Ling being the half-Chinese, half-Irish disabled girl with questionable sexuality, and Henry being the heartthrob songwriting gay man, dreaming of his lost love Louis. Their characters open the doors to discussing the racial tensions and societal expectations RE: gays in the 1920s, which I thought was brilliant.
But above all, my biggest loves are still Evie and Sam. And, even better: the two of them together. They just have such excellent, vivid, flawed voices – and then the BANTER between them. The feels are real. Now, the focus of this series is hardly on romance – there are way too many people dying for that – but yeah, there’s drama, and yeah, there’s a love