I have to admit, the second book in The Diviners series Lair of Dreams started out with a generous lead from me because The Diviners was my favorite book of 2012 and Libba Bray’s first series, The Gemma Doyle Trilogy, is probably my favorite young adult series of all time. So I won’t leave you hanging: I really enjoyed this sequel.
The book starts of in New York, 1927, a few months after the serial killer Naughty John is thwarted by flapper-seer Evie O’Neill and her group of Diviner friends. Evie has put her fifteen seconds of fame from catching Naughty John to good use and is now performing as the “Flapper of Fate” on a radio show, but the rest of her friends are still stalled where they were. Theta Knight and Henry DuBois are still struggling artists, Memphis Campbell is still running numbers in Harlem and writing poetry on the side, and Jericho Jones is still working for Evie’s uncle at the Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.
As in the first book, all of the side-stories were great. The wide cast of characters all have their own lives and worries, which are intertwined just enough with the other characters to keep them relevant. New characters are also introduced without a Cousin Oliver effect. Ling Chan, the daughter of a Chinese immigrant father and Irish immigrant mother, is paired up with Henry, and they travel through a dream world attempting to find his lost love Louis, who Henry knew when he lived in New Orleans. Ling is straight-laced, saving up every penny she has to go to college and become an engineer, and is nothing like Henry, a starving-artist piano player who parties hard on the side, but the two eventually come to mesh in an endearing friendship.
Much to my relief, a love triangle that was hinted at in the end of the first book is essentially dropped in Lair of Dreams. Instead, Evie gets involved in a romance faked for publicity (surprise, they end up falling for each other anyway). Despite being gimmicky, I thought this subplot was a lot of fun and it was far preferable to an overdone love triangle.
The problem with the large cast of characters is that not everyone could get the attention they deserved. Theta and Memphis’s budding romance is pushed to the side, and Theta’s backstory (which was the subplot that I was most excited to see unfold) is not given any further development at all. There are four books planned for the series, so I’m hoping that her character will be explored in exhaustive depth in the third installment.
The weakest point, for me, was the overarching plot. A mystical sleeping sickness is sweeping through the immigrant-heavy parts of town, but it didn’t feel as imminent as the serial killer terrorizing Manhattan in the first book. In fact, I kept forgetting about it. It only affects the daily life of Ling Chan, who lives in Chinatown and whose close friend is suffering from sleeping sickness. For all the other characters, the sleeping sickness is a vague concern at the back of their minds. Though I wish that the main plot had been stronger, the subplots are tantalizing enough to make up for the fact that the thread connecting them all was a bit thin.
Lair of Dreams is an incredibly fast and engaging read and a worthy sequel to The Diviners – the only downside to this is now I have to wait a few years to read the third book. This is a bandwagon I would highly recommend jumping on if you haven’t read the first book. It’s a wild party and terrifying adventure wrapped into one. If you’re up to speed, Lair of Dreams comes out tomorrow, so clear your schedule because you’ll want to finish this book in one sitting.