The Diviners by Libba Bray is a 1920s supernatural murder mystery, with a good dose of horror, and just a dash of steampunk. Evie O’Neill is a flapper who enjoys parties, speakeasies, and generally having a good time. However, she also has a hidden talent, Evie can learn people’s secrets by holding objects that they own. When she causes a scandal in her small Ohio town her parents send her off to live with her uncle, who owns and runs a museum on the occult, in New York. While this is supposed to be a punishment, Evie is “posi-i-tute-ly” thrilled to get the chance to live it up in Manhattan with her good friend Mabel.
Soon after arriving though the police ask Evie’s uncle for help in a recent murder, involving a cryptic message and occult symbols. As the body count rises, the connection to a man long dead and an ancient evil become increasingly clear.
Mixing Ziegfield girls, speakeasies, and lots of 1920’s phrases (at times a bit over the top-ski) with ancient and occult evils, makes for a fun and suspenseful read. The Diviners is the first book in a series, so Bray does spend time focusing on the stories of (intriguing) side characters that don’t seem to fully fit into the plot of this first book, but will probably be featured in books to come.
If you enjoy The Diviners some other books you may want to try:
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys - a richly detailed historical murder mystery, taking place in 1950s New Orleans
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters - As people are dying due to Spanish influenza and the Great War in 1918 many are turning to the supernatural world to connect with spirits on the other side.