“The Diviners must stand, or all shall fall.”
“The people are afraid now.
Too much history rises from the graves.”
The Diviners series is a quartet of young adult books by Libba Bray. Before the Devil Breaks You is book three, an outstanding continuation of the story about evil, racism, ghosts, flappers, love, and the fight for what is right in a country when too many want to turn away from the ugliness.
Before the Devil Breaks You brings back all of our original Diviners characters: Evie, Sam, Memphis, Theta, Henry, Mabel, and Jericho as well as Ling, Isaiah, Will, Sister Walker, Blind Bill, and Jake Marlowe. It’s a story filled with action, intriguing imagery, great Roarin’ 20’s slang, and characters that you both love and hate.
The little group of Diviners, those with special powers like Evie, Sam, Memphis, and Theta, have their hands full. While they may have helped the murderous ghost from book two find peace, the supernatural still runs amok. Ghost sightings have increased around NYC and other places. Equally disturbing, and definitely scarier than the ghosts are the eugenics fanatics who are determined to create a pure race and take America back. Yes, you read that correctly.
It’s between the World Wars and many American-born citizens are in danger facing deportation and worse, the loss of their lives. The Civil Rights Movement is decades away, with laws in most states making it illegal for marriage or even a relationship for a couple like Memphis and Theta. And if you’re gay? Forget it. While you may be able to dance with your partner at some of the speakeasies, there’s no way you can go out in public together and show any type of affection for each other.
In the midst of all this, there’s the ghosts being controlled by the King of Crows. The Diviners figure out a way to pool their special talents and obliterate the ghosts, but can they take down the King of Crows? And what about Jake Marlowe; he’s just as bad.
There’s a lot going on this book, but the pace is good and there’s a nice balance. It was interesting to watch Mabel really grow in this book, a non-Diviner, but equally passionate about her cause. I liked learning more about Ling and in particular more of Sam’s background. Author Libba Bray satisfied my romantic notions as well, allowing more than one couple to evolve their relationship to the next level. Sweet, but sexy.
Always great, quotable moments as well. In addition to the two I shared at the top, I found something that Will said stuck with me. In the chapter titled: Mistakes, I found one of my favorite quotes. Spoken by Will in response to Evie wanting to know why can’t anyone just tell the truth. Will says, “Because it’s so hard to know what the truth is. It shifts, depending on who’s telling it and when.” I find this interesting, because Will says ‘when’ not why. And how accurate is that? Totally—because the when directly affects the why, every time.
If you’re not reading this series, I highly recommend it. It’s a good read for anyone who enjoys paranormal, romance, thrillers, ghost stories, and well-crafted narratives that expertly weave in essential bits of actual history. Although set in the 1920’s, Before the Devil Breaks You is timely, tackling issues we’re still dealing with as a nation today. It’s a must-read.
The first book of the series is The Diviners, my Good Reads review is here.
The second book of the series is Lair of Dreams and you can read my review here on the blog.
For more information about these books and about author Libba Bray, please visit her website here: https://libbabray.com/.