Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. With her uncanny ability to read people’s secrets, she’s become a media darling, and earned the title “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” Everyone’s in love with the city’s newest It Girl…everyone except the other Diviners.

Piano-playing Henry Dubois and Chinatown resident Ling Chan are two Diviners struggling to keep their powers a secret–for they can walk in dreams. And while Evie is living the high life, victims of a mysterious sleeping sickness are turning up across New York City.

As Henry searches for a lost love and Ling strives to succeed in a world that shuns her, a malevolent force infects their dreams. And at the edges of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans that extend farther than anyone can guess….As the sickness spreads, can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld to save the city?

Libba Bray’s follow-up to The Diviners saw many improvements – and one major disappointment. I cracked the spine hoping for more about the other characters in Libba’s ensemble, and I definitely was not disappointed! We learned so much about the backstories for Henry and Sam, which was welcomed… but I missed Theta and Memphis. One of my major complaints about The Diviners was that Evie wasn’t a particularly likable character, and she sunk even further this time around. I found myself hating every moment that Evie was on the page and wondering how much longer it would be until someone else showed up.

The book is long, starts a bit slow, and, dare I say it, a bit too Henry-focused, but it is well worth the ride. Henry really grew on me as the book continued, and I found myself thankful for Libba’s portrayal of such a unique gay character who wasn’t a stereotype or a caricature. As Henry walks in dreams to find his lost love, Louis, we learn so much about his past and the path that has brought him to New York.

The villain of this book didn’t give me the same chills and creeps that Naughty John did in the first book but instead provides more of a psychological horror. I felt leagues of dread for the characters, which kept me hanging on to every word as each piece began to fit together. This puzzle feels a bit disjointed at the beginning, but as we collect more and more information and the picture starts to come together, you realize what you’re seeing is an emotional gut punch. Make sure that you’re prepared.

One of my favorite things about this book was Libba’s attention to realistic diversity. She isn’t afraid to discuss the KKK, the Chinese Exclusion Act, and the general hatred faced by interracial relationships. Diversity for Lair of Dreams doesn’t feel tacked on – it is an integral part of the story.

There’s really not much that I can say here without giving the story away – and trust me, you will want to experience this one’s twists and turns for yourself. This one is well worth it!

The third book in the four-part series comes out next week, and I can’t wait! Libba is a master of cliff hangers, and I’m dying to know what happens next.

4/5 Bards

 

Book Review: Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

Rebel_AngelsGemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy—spending time with her friends in the city, attending balls in fancy gowns with plunging necklines, and dallying with the handsome Lord Denby. Yet amid these distractions, her visions intensify—visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened that only the realms can explain.

The lure is strong, and soon Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world that Gemma takes them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.

But all is not well in the realms—or out. Kartik is back, desperately insisting to Gemma that she must bind the magic, lest colossal disaster befall her. Gemma is willing to comply, for this would bring her face-to-face with her late mother’s greatest friend, now Gemma’s foe—Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task. . . .

I loved this second installment so much. Especially the ending, everything was wrapped up so nicely, but still leaving an opening for the next book. I really enjoyed the message that the ending brings. A message of understanding and letting go and ultimately that you people won’t always do what you want them to, and people may disappoint you, but that’s no reason not to keep going and not to have hope. Years later, I’m still really impressed that this is only her second book ever.

It’s refreshing that we get to see London instead of Spence, and also different parts of the Realms. As lovely as the gardens were, it does get old seeing the same thing over and over again. I think Bray does an excellent job of describing the rest of the beauty (and horror) of the Realms. Getting to see the other aspect of the girls’ lives, and all the drama that comes with being a lady in Victorian London, was very exciting.
I love that Gemma starts to realize/understand her privilege, and that’s eye opening for a lot of readers as well. You can say something to someone that you think is a compliment, but is actually incredibly insulting. Props to Libba Bray for letting her character realize this and try to make up for it, rather than just sitting with it and not understanding that as a rich, white girl, you are very privileged, and not every one wants to be like you.

I will say that I KNEW IT (though I won’t say what “it” is to avoid spoilers). But, I’m not sure if I knew because I remembered it, or if it was just that obvious. If it was that obvious, I wonder if it was on purpose. Like we know something that Gemma doesn’t, and we keep thinking throughout the book, “oh no, Gemma don’t do that!” Whether it was or wasn’t intentionally obvious, I still think it was done really well, and it doesn’t take away from the rest of hte story at all, adds suspense, even.

Definitely would recommend and give 5 bards.

fivebards

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