The Divinersby Libba Bray was an exceptionally tense and scary YA novel that was essentially the story of Evie O’Neill, a young woman from a small town who ended up in the bustle of 1920’s New York, staying with her uncle, who operates the unusual Museum of American Folklore, Superstition and the Occult. There she meets a diverse crew of characters, and discovers that she has supernatural powers that help her Uncle solve the crimes committed by a serial killer who is more than he seems.
Lair of Dreams takes up the story a bit later. Evie, now famous now for her talents, is a radio star called The Sweetheart Seer, and is trying to stay atop the fiercely competitive world of showbusiness any way that she can. Most of the supporting cast from the first book is back, and it is large and diverse; Theta, Sam, Jericho, Henry and Ling and Memphis; they all have stories, though Henry and Ling take center stage a lot more here, and Ling is the breakout character, stealing the show with her determination and drive. Together the two of them travel through a realm of dreams, trying to solve an epidemic that is making people fall asleep and never awaken. Ms. Bray is excellent in bringing this world to life, (though I found her 20’s slang a bit over-used), and every scene comes to life with exceptional detail. This is a book that you can taste and feel. The plot was well-structured, and it was often genuinely scary it has so much going for it, and taken together with The Diviners I think it’s quite effective. I am giving it a high rating, but I felt that there are some issues that I must address. Although not much longer, Lair of Dreams felt a lot longer than the Diviners.
There are something like eight storylines going on, as well as frequent shifts in point-of view. Ms. Bray also deals with a plethora of social and class issues, which however laudatory, further slowed the pace for me. My last real complaint was that I had to go back and look up a substantial part of The Diviners to be able to find my feet here. If I came to this novel without first reading The Diviners I think that I would have found the going even a bit tougher. Lair of Dreams feels to me like a second part to a three part story, and unless I am wrong that is what it is. When you take the two works together, it’s quite impressive. As a stand-alone novel however, I was not blown away. I have read four of Ms Bray’s novels, and I think that she isn’t capable of writing a bad book, but Lair of Dreams left me eagerly waiting for the next book, but not quite thrilled with this one.