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-tut-ely thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.”
When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.
I’ve read other Libba Bray novels before (I read the first Gemma Doyle book, and half of the second about a year ago) but I couldn’t get into them. This book, however, I loved from the beginning. I went into this with no foreknowledge of the book, just recommendations from my sister and a friend, so for those of you who haven’t read the book, it’s all the glitz and glamour of the 1920’s in New York City with the dark tones of Supernatural, and an imperfect, sassy main character named Evangeline “Evie” O’Neill.
I was not expecting this novel to be as creepy as it was, and in a lesser writer, this story wouldn’t have worked. Come on – serial killer who came back from the dead who also eats parts of people based on super creepy cult sacrifices, caught by a girl and her friends who are just learning about their secret powers? I’ve read that gone really badly several times before, but Bray rocked it! Her use of 1920’s slang made it really feel like we were in the 1920’s, though I did have to look up what ‘moxie’ meant when Sam used it. Her description of the places she went and the people that Evie met were absolutely stunning and generally very realistic.
The mystery and murder aspect of it was absolutely thrilling. Naughty John was super creepy, and it definitely kept me turning the pages, even after I really should have been asleep. Her characters were mostly pretty well fleshed out. I felt like some of the characters, like Addie and the cat thing at the end, were only included so that she didn’t have to introduce them in the next novel, where I hope they become important. This book had a huge cast of characters, and not all of them were entirely necessary. I loved Memphis and Theta, but my favorite character was ‘Unc’ Will Fitzgerald. I can’t wait to get more in depth with his character, and maybe a few chapters from his point of view in the next book? Sam was pretty cool, too, and I’d like to find out who the girl is that he’s looking for. I loved Memphis and Theta’s relationship, and Henry seems to be someone that could turn out to be really interesting.
One thing that I didn’t like was the love aspect of the ending – Evie had absolutely no interest in him for 90 percent of the book, and then he kisses her, and she finds out his secret, and she needs his kisses to distract her? Alcohol could have distracted her just as well, and we all knew she liked that. The ending in general was a little confusing, which is why my rating came down to four and a half stars.
The cover art, which is one of my main issues with a lot of YA fiction, is absolutely stunning, and the art continues throughout the book, tying everything together in a way that really works. If you think this sounds like fun, I’d also highly recommend you check out Iron Cast by Destiny Soria, because they go really well together. All in all, I really enjoyed the book, and I hope that you do, too! You can buy a copy through Amazon, Indiebound, or your other preferred bookseller!
You can read my review of the sequel, Lair of Dreams here!
Libba Bray is the New York Times bestselling author of The Gemma Doyle trilogy (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, The Sweet Far Thing); the Michael L. Printz Award-winningGoing Bovine; Beauty Queens, an L.A. Times Book Prize finalist; and The Diviners series. She is originally from Texas but makes her home in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, son, and two sociopathic cats. You can find her at…oh, wait. You already did. Nevermind—you are agenius!
Disclaimer: All links to Indiebound and Amazon are affiliate links, which means that if you buy through those links, I will make a small amount of money off of it.