Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.
Wow. This book pulled me in and refused to let me go until I finished! It’s a fabulous blend of mystery, murder and occult powers set against a 1920’s New York backdrop, and I loved every one of its 600-odd pages.
There are several main narrative threads. Evie, the main protagonist, has been sent away to live with her uncle in New York, where he manages the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition and the Occult. She soon finds herself in the middle of an investigation into a string of creepy ritualistic murders. Meanwhile, there are whispers of a group of people with strange abilities, the Diviners. As Evie has an unusual power, she starts to think she might be one of them, and that she can use her abilities to help catch the killer.
Evie is flawed yet sympathetic, fun-loving but with a darker side which is grieving for her brother, James, killed in the war. The other characters are equally well-developed and three-dimensional, especially the aspiring poet, Memphis, who once had the ability to heal at a touch, before it failed him when he tried to save his mother’s life. Then there’s Henry, Theta, Jericho, Uncle Will, Sam, and a whole crew of other intriguing characters.
The murderer, Naughty Jack, is a sinister serial killer who also happens to be a ghost. We know that he’s the killer from the outset, yet it doesn’t make him any less terrifying. The gradually enfolding mystery had me glued to the pages. The murders are creepy and a certain haunted house had me reluctant to turn off the light at night!
I’m not usually a fan of dense historical novels, but this is a book which is immersive without being overwhelming. There are so many elements that drew me in – the mystery of the Diviners, the detailed world-building, the gruesome murders. This is a fabulous read and one unlike anything I’ve read before!