Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
|Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
|Reviewer: Alex Mitchell
|Summary: An entertaining teen fantasy adventure set in a decadent Jazz-age setting worthy of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.
|Date: August 2015
|External links: Author's website
After a showdown with a supernatural serial killer, Evie O'Neill has revealed herself as a Diviner. With her amazing ability to discover people's secrets, she has become New York City's "Sweetheart Seer," the latest It Girl. Everyone seems to be eager to get to know this new media darling. But, while Evie revels in her newfound fame, fellow Diviners Henry DuBois and Ling Chan have to hide their powers. But, something is dark and malevolent is claiming people in their sleep, twisting their dreams into nightmares and imprisoning their consciousness inside their unconscious bodies. And, lurking in the background, a man in a stovepipe hat is planning something sinister with a truly massive impact on the world...
Fair warning: a lot of the book will not make sense if you have not read its predecessor, The Diviners. I, not having done so, learned this the hard way when I first opened this book up. Also, it is a monster read, being over 600 pages long, so you'll have to persevere. It's worth it.
The eight teenage protagonists are well written and varied. First of them is Evie, a celebrity diviner with the power to see the past when in contact with certain objects. She's a very extroverted party-girl, who often wakes up in her hotel room hungover and leaning over a toilet bowl. There is a significant amount of romantic tension between her and Jericho Jones, a quieter, more philosophical boy who is kept alive by some sort of blue serum. In order to gain publicity, Evie pretends to be engaged to Sam Lloyd, a womanising con-man with the power to render himself and anything he touches invisible to certain people. Supporting Evie are Mabel, a socialist union activist who has the power to heat her hands when she becomes agitated, and Theta, a Broadway musical actress. Theta lives with her best friend Henry, a closet homosexual musician from Missouri, who seeks both his long-lost lover Louis and that his works get published. He has the power to walk in other people's dreams, much like Ling, a half-Chinese, half-Irish cripple who comes off the page as being a lot like Dr Gregory House, seeing only the logical and realistic. The last, but not least, character is Memphis, a black teenage poet with the power to heal the afflicted, and a dream to have his works recognised and published.
Bray does well to describe the setting. At many points, the story breaks away from the protagonists to describe the city waking up in the cold winter. It is a testament to her writing skill that she can make the city seem almost like a living being in itself. She also describes the high life of those who were lucky enough to have one. Evie's raucous parties and the various speakeasies, clubs and musical venues are brought effectively to life. In fact, you could almost imagine you were reading an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. The language used is also very accurate for its time.
However, while the 1920s was mostly remembered for its decadence and thrills, it was also a time of segregation and hostility. The KKK are frequently mentioned. There is also a great deal of hostility towards the Chinese, as is revealed by Ling's experiences. Jews are also harassed a great deal (yes, this occurred before the Nazis came along), so much so that Sam (who is a Ukrainian Jew by birth) had to anglicise his name to escape the hate.
My only niggle with the book is the numerous sub-plots and the different ways the story diverges (hence why it is so long). This may make the story a little hard to follow at times, but by no means unentertaining.
I definitely found this book to be an entertaining and engrossing read.
The Diviners by Libba Bray – the first book in the series.
Gone by Michael Grant – a similar 'teens with superpowers' theme, but with a vastly different setting and issues.
The Flappers: Vixen by Jillian Larkin – a similar setting, but with a different kind of fantasy.
You can read more book reviews or buy Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray at Amazon.com.
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