This review of Lair of Dreams may contain spoilers for The Diviners!
Please note that this is the second book in the Diviners series by Libba Bray. If you have not read The Diviners, please stop reading this review. Go read The Diviners instead. It’s amazing and you will love it if you love magic and 1920’s slang.
The longing of dreams draws the dead, and this city holds many dreams.
After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. With her uncanny ability to read people’s secrets, she’s become a media darling, earning the title “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” Everyone’s in love with the city’s newest It Girl…everyone except the other Diviners.
Piano-playing Henry DuBois and Chinatown resident Ling Chan are two Diviners struggling to keep their powers a secret—for they can walk in dreams. And while Evie is living the high life, victims of a mysterious sleeping sickness are turning up across New York City.
As Henry searches for a lost love and Ling strives to succeed in a world that shuns her, a malevolent force infects their dreams. And at the edges of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans that extend farther than anyone can guess… As the sickness spreads, can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld to save the city? (via Goodreads)
Lair of Dreams is the long-awaited second novel in The Diviners series by New York Times Best Seller Libba Bray. It is a young adult fantasy novel published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. It almost verges on historical fantasy, given all of the research that Bray did on 1920’s New York City.
I originally read The Diviners shortly after it came out in 2012, and absolutely loved it. Lair of Dreams was published on August 25, 2015, and has been sitting on my shelf since the middle of September because I needed to re-read The Diviners first.
I’m gonna start this review by talking about how beautiful this book is. The cover is absolutely perfect, though it won’t make a lot of sense until you reach the middle of the book. I looove the title’s font choice. It’s beautiful and dynamic.
Bray is an extremely talented writer, which you can see in the prose that begins the book. It’s also visible in the way she slowly weaves the mystery further around us, until it ensnares us as much as it ensnared the dreamwalkers. You can see a sample of the beautiful prose below.
“Each city is a ghost.
New buildings rise upon the bones of the old so that each shiny steel beam, each tower of brick carries within it the memories of what has gone before, an architectural haunting. Sometimes you can catch a glimpse of these former incarnations in the awkward angle of a street or a filigreed gate, an old oak door peeking out from a new facade, the plaque commemorating the spot that was once a battleground, which became a saloon and is now a park.
Underground, it’s no different.
Beneath the streets, this city grows. Tracks push farther out into Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Tunnels connect one place to another, closing the distance between impossible and possible. So many people to move. The city’s aspirations do not stop at ground level.” (Page 1, Lair of Dreams)
There were a lot of new characters in this novel, which was great, because it gave Bray the chance to make some changes to her
really white cast. Yes, we had Memphis, but everyone else in the cast was originally characterized as white. Bray made some changes to the original cast’s perceived ethnic identities, and added a fantastic Chinese character. I absolutely loved the addition of Ling to our group. She was fun to read, and so very different from the rest of the characters that it was refreshing to read her. I think she’ll get along well with Mabel in the future.
Lair of Dreams also brought us a whole new side of several of our beloved characters. Sam, Henry and Ling were fleshed out into true main characters in their own right, which made it a little easier to bear when Evie was drunk and rambling. Which was most of the time. It was honestly really annoying how drunk she was all the time, even understanding that she was expected to go out partying as part of advertising for her radio show.
I really wish the love triangle had not been written into this, though. If Evie had real feelings for Jericho, she could have talked to Mabel about it. That is really my biggest complaint about this novel, Mabel was cut out of a lot of this novel because Evie felt so guilty about her feelings for Jericho. I think this could have been just as great of a novel without the love triangle.
I’m intrigued as to what will come next, especially when it comes to the ideas of eugenics that were brought up in Lair of Dreams. I thought that it was historically honest of Bray to bring eugenics, and the very real racism of that time into these novels. I can see trouble brewing with Mr. Phillips, Evie’s radio producer, and Sam, at the very least.
Overall, I liked this novel. It was a good sequel to a great first novel, and I will gladly recommend this to friends and family. I had some issues with it, but for the most part I loved it, so I’m rating it four stars.