DIVAH by Susannah Appelbaum


Age Range: 12 - 18
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A teenager at New York’s Carlyle Hotel discovers her role in the ancient war between angels and demons.

Itzy Nash is to summer with her wealthy, child-hating aunt at the ritzy Carlyle, but it’s hardly what she expected. Itzy’s seeing strange things, her aunt’s gone, and the suite’s filled with bugs (the posh hotel is strangely relaxed about pest problems). Through passages of exposition—delivered in dialogue and as informative interpolations—Itzy learns that she’s seeing demons, and the Divah, a demon queen, is coming. In a sagging second section, the third-person point of view switches to angelic love interest Luc’s first-person narration of his forbidden romance with Divah Marie Antoinette and how close her evil scheme to open the Gates of Hell came to success before the guillotine prevented it. Then, back in Itzy’s time, she is dragged by the plot and other characters through the Divah’s rise and next attempt to unleash the damned—by possessing Itzy. Though early humor (demons hate Hermès, Evian, and the French language) beckons readers, it peters out. Throughout all sections, there’s a glaring lack of expected reaction to odd happenings: demon hunters and bystanders alike act as though grotesque sights (as when Luc carries a decapitated head around Paris) are normal. This has the effect of flattening both characters and worldbuilding, distancing readers so thoroughly it’s doubtful they will care about the plot’s twists.

A miss. (Fantasy/horror. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 15th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-63450-674-8
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2016


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