Some of the most evocative and atmospheric writing I’ve seen in historical fiction, which is completely at odds with the overly simplistic, two-dimensional characters.
Evie O’Neill is the protagonist and the biggest problem with the story. She starts off the book as a shallow, superficial young woman and ends the book as a shallow, superficial young woman. The back-story of her dead brother and heartbroken parents add some depth to her character and explain some of her acting out, but not enough to compensate for her unlikability. The rest of the characters are less problematic, but still two-dimensional. Uncle Will, the aloof intellectual. Jericho, the brooding hulk with a dark secret, Sam Lloyd the ladies man with a heart of gold.
The plot itself is great — supernatural serial killer Naughty John comes to town to fulfill a prophecy and become (even more?) immortal and rule the world (I think). Some of the Naughty John scenes were legitimately scary, and some of the murder scenes more violent than I expected.
But at the same time there’s this parallel story of Memphis Campbell, who has his own secret powers, and his story never really comes to fruition. I’m assuming Evie and Memphis will join forces later in the series, but in this volume his POV chapters are mostly just an abrupt interruption to the flow of the main story line.
Bray’s clear intent to make this the first in a series means The Diviners try to do too much — too many miscellaneous characters with too many supernatural powers, too many loose threads left dangling for the next novel, which I’m not entirely sure I want to read.