I love me some Libba Bray. She’s been on my top 10 list since the Gemma Doyle trilogy… which are also on my top 10 reads. To be fair, I don’t actually have a list of authors and books… more an ever-evolving “go-to” section of my brain that remembers certain books and authors with fondness… while others tend to fade away, only to be replaced by new books and new authors. When you are as adamant as a reader as I am (I was so anti-social when I was young) you only have so much room for books and authors… or maybe I just tell myself that, so I’m not annoyed when I forget the plot of a book I’ve read… or even that I’ve read the book?! HAHA, is anyone else like that?
Anyway, I love Libba Bray and I really did enjoy the book. Some disclaimers to start:
1. This is a supernatural horror novel. There are aspects of the occult and demonic activity that are part of the plot.
2. Libba Bray has a tendency to write her viewpoints into her novels. I don’t agree with all of her opinions all the time, but I can read it objectively. If that sort of thing bothers you, I wouldn’t recommend this book.
As told by Goodreads
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened
Evie is your a-typical teenage flapper girl. She is meddlesome, selfish, brave, excessive, foolish, and uses entirely too much slang. Which, in my opinion, made her seem very authentic. Isn’t that exactly what a teenage girl in the flapper era would be like? Most of the negative commentary for the book (or for Evie herself) was against the excess in the book, specifically the excess use of flapper-slang. If I remember my history correctly, the 20s were KNOWN for excess. That’s what make the 20’s the “roaring” 20’s.
That being said, Evie is clearly on a journey of self discovery. There are many things about herself that she is learning about, learning to consider others in her decisions, learning about the world outside of her small town, and learning that there are much darker and scarier things that roam the night than she could have ever imagined.
Meme Credit: Book Nerd Reviews
“Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on. Cuts your throat and takes your bones, sells ’em off for a coupla stones.”
This dude was CREEPY. I listened to this on audio book. Whenever I was driving and listening to this book at night, I would constantly be checking my rear-view to make sure the car was empty. She did a great job of writing the creeptasticness into this character. Some of the murder scenes were hard to listen to. The actual murders themselves are not described (thankfully) but the events leading up to the murders are. Libba does an amazing job of writing these scenes. They were legitimately scary.
On an amusing side note, I was listening to one of these scenes after I pulled into my driveway. Waiting for this particular scene to finish, I was completely engrossed in the story, and started screaming when I saw a person standing outside the driver’s door from the corner of my eye. Turns out it was my Dad. He had been standing there for 2 minutes waiting for me to notice him. He almost peed his pants laughing… I almost peed my pains out of terror. Oi!
Like I said above, Libba does a great job setting up the 20’s as a place excess, debauchery, spiritualism, and bigotry. She can write in a way that makes you feel as if you are THERE with the character. You can see, smell and hear what the characters are sensing. I really enjoyed that the book took place in New York. It was fun to hear about NYC in the 20’s, exactly as I would imagine it.
The secondary characters are also very interesting. I loved how diverse she wrote them. Multiple races, story lines, and orientations. It made the book feel more lively and real. The book jumps POV quite a bit. It was pretty easy to follow, as the characters were so different, but I could see how it would bother some people. One of my absolute favorite characters is Theta. Her story line is riveting, when you finally hear it, and I’m really looking forward to more of her character development in the next book.
I found these character inspirations on tumblr. Spot on for what I saw in my head!
Libba Bray did not disappoint. I loved her characters, she thoroughly creeped me out and she left me wanting to come back for more. I give her 4 Sparkly Unicorns and I’m very much looking forward to the next in the series!
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