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Listen up: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Each month, Candace of Beth Fish Reads recommends the best in audiobooks, the perfect way to read when you’re on the move. January LaVoy’s lively and engaging reading of Libba Bray’s occult murder mystery transports listeners to 1920s New York City.

The Diviners

When 17-year-old Evie O’Neill’s escapades become too much for her small Ohio town, her parents send her off to live with her Uncle Will. Evie, however, doesn’t see this as exile; instead she can’t believe her luck. Uncle Will lives in New York City, home of real flappers, jazz, and speakeasies.

The downside is that Uncle Will is the curator of a folklore museum commonly referred to as the Museum of the Creepy Crawlies, and Evie is afraid he’ll notice her secret ability to read people’s pasts. But when the police ask Will to help solve a gruesome murder, Evie realizes her talents can be used to help track down a killer.

Libba Bray’s The Diviners is a complex, twisty occult mystery that is about much more than a killing spree. There are underlying stories of good versus evil, of a secret occult world, and of Evie’s self-acceptance. And, of course, we meet the Roaring Twenties, the city, and a host of multidimensional characters.

Bray nailed down the details of New York in 1926. From rich to poor, from Harlem to the Village, the many faces of the city come to life, especially as revealed by the individuals who cross Evie’s path. We meet a Ziegfeld girl, a numbers runner, a pickpocket, flappers, musicians, drinkers and teetotalers. And, like Evie, we soon learn no one is exactly who he says he is; each young person wears a public persona to hide his or her darkest secrets.

The Diviners is a paranormal mystery with heart-thumping action and gasp-inducing creepiness. The occult aspects work and are made scarier by being well-grounded in historical New York. Bray mixes factual oddities into her fictional realm, creating a frightening world that’s easy to get lost in.

January LaVoy’s lively narration enhances every aspect of The Diviners. Her clear, consistent characterizations and amazing range of accents make the people of Evie’s New York come alive. Each has a distinct voice with appropriate tones of innocence, sex, fear, or toughness. LaVoy alters her tempo and volume, keeping listeners engaged in the plot and upping the spookiness and tension. LaVoy’s outstanding performance makes Libba Bray’s The Diviners our audiobook pick of the month.

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