BOOK REPORT for Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2) by Libba Bray

Cover Story: Downgrade

BFF Charm: Eventually

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

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Talky Talk: Positutely the Bee’s Knees

Bonus Factors: Diversity, 1920s

Relationship Status: In Libba We Trust

 Lair of Dreams

Cover Story: Downgrade

Well, as much as I liked the first Diviners cover, they’ve gone and changed up the aesthetic. I can’t say I adore it—it looks a little “generic 1920s horror as reimagined in the ’80s,” but at least it captures the creepy subway tunnels that play a part in the story.

The Deal:

Your favorite Diviners are back, and Evie has been outed, which is working quite well for her, actually. She’s got her own radio show and is the toast of the town—America’s very own “Sweetheart Seer” gets to hold court every night with illegal booze and a lot of fabulous fashion.

Not everything is so jake, though: a mysterious sleeping sickness is taking over New York City. People go to sleep and never stop dreaming until they die, days later. Our pal Henry DuBois and newcomer Ling Chan can walk through the dreamworld, and along with Evie, Sam, Jericho, Theta, and Memphis, they’re in a race against time to figure out who—or what—is responsible for this growing horror.

In the meantime, the individual Diviners are all dealing with their own issues, from racism, to ableism, to accusations of being unchristian, to searching for lost loves, parents, and friends. It’s a hefty and ambitious tome (my advance copy clocks in at 690 pages), but it is to Libba Bray’s infinite credit that it all simply works. By the end, most is resolved in a satisfying way, but the stage has been set for even more creeping dread and sweeping prose.

BFF Charm: Eventually

I’m going to diverge from Erin’s Diviners review here and say that no, I do not actually want to be Evie’s friend right now (because she treats her friends pretty badly), and I don’t exactly want to be her, but she is a highly enjoyable character to read about. I love her outrageous sense of self-interest and her unflagging optimism. This book really explores Evie’s tendency to self-destruct, which is interesting to read about from someone who so determinedly cheerful. She knows her behavior is less than ideal, but she’s young, gorgeous, and famous—so why not enjoy it while it lasts?

Luckily, she’s a good person at her core, and although she’s totally the type of person who will admire themselves in a shop window reflection, she also knows what’s important, deep down…under a sea of gin and champagne. So, eventually we will be friends. Eventually. But let it be known that “Pie Face” is less than an endearing nickname, Evie.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Memphis is in this book, so you know it has major swoon potential. Plus Sam. And Jericho. And Henry—Henry gets some sexy moments, too! I will let Memphis lay his healing hands upon me any day, but Sam is oh-so-charming, too, and surprisingly enough, a calming influence on flighty Evie.

Talky Talk: Positutely the Bee’s Knees

As with The Diviners, this book is full of charming ’20s slang and quippy dialogue, but more importantly, Bray has outdone herself with the prose. She captures everything that is eerie and romantic about living in a big city, polishes it up with some smudged eye makeup, champagne, and shiny jet beads, then weaves it into a narrative so full of creeping dread and moments of horror that you’ll have trouble sleeping. I was already a huge fan, but this book is her at her very best: multilayered, gorgeous, and uncanny.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Lair of Dreams is the “American melting pot” ideal of YA books. There’s a variety of backgrounds, races, cultures, and sexual orientations present.

Bonus Factor: 1920s

The Roaring Twenties is such a perfect setting for this book—the female empowerment, struggle between the Temperance movement and, well, the rest of the country, racial tensions, and financial prosperity (for some folks), with a gorgeous Art Deco veneer slapped on top, all tie into the themes that Lair of Dreams exhibits. It’s a volatile time: as much as technology is advancing and times are changing, there are many things that are still oppressive. You see it echoed in Evie’s “Sweetheart Seer” public persona, where everything looks grand from the outside, but she’s a target for religious attacks, her personal life is under scrutiny, she flirts with destruction, oh, and she’s still a woman in a man’s world. And that’s without the supernatural woes.

Casting Call:

Johanna Braddy as Evie

We already know she can play a wide-eyed, not-so-naive ingénue on UnREAL.

Anton Yelchin as Sam

Charles Michael Davis as Memphis

He might be a little too old for the role, but THAT FACE. THAT VOICE. (Those abs.) That is how I picture Memphis. (Second choice: Tequan Richmond.)

Madison Davenport as Theta

Wenwen Han as Ling Chan

Relationship Status: In Libba We Trust

Book, in a lesser author’s hands you might not have been such the exciting date that you were. Thrills! Chills! KISSING! And, of course, gorgeous scenery (I’m not just talking about Memphis here). Our date swept me away into a world where magic and monsters are real, and you kept me guessing the whole time we were together. You were totally worth the wait, but I am already pining for the next installment in our relationship. Are you free tomorrow?

Lair of Dreams will be available on August 25th.

Jennie lives in San Francisco. When she's not reading or talking about reading, she writes, cooks obsessively, runs a small jewelry business, and thrifts for vintage everything.