The Diviners came out three years ago, looking back at it now it doesn’t feel like much. But if you were to ask me about it during that time well, I would have devolved into something along these lines:
You know how the rest of it goes, “12 YEARS OF IT IN AZKABAN!”
Lair of Dreams picks up soon after the end of The Diviners. All of our characters are trying to get on with their lives. Henry is trying to be recognized as a song writer, Theta is trying to move up in the ranks of the Folly Dancers, Jericho and Sam are trying to keep the museum from going under (while Sam works on a quest of his own). Memphis is still writing his poetry, while trying to balance his family life with his new romantic interest in Theta. And then there is Evie, with her Diviner abilities no longer a secret she’s become the Sweetheart Seer, a radio host and starlet.
All in all, things seem to be on the up and up. That is until people start falling asleep and never waking up.
Lair of Dreams has three major strengths working in its favour to trap the readers. First off, the characters. There are quite a lot of them, with more being introduced in this novel. None of them feel one dimensional, instead you have a cast of fully developed people running around the story with their own hopes, dreams and goals. Sometimes they cross paths and sometimes they do not. Everyone is relatable and likeable in a way. I found it hard to chose favourites. I never wanted to skip over someone else’s chapters to get to a different plot thread.
Libba Bray knows how to build a world. Her 1920s New York City practically leaps off the page.I have no idea how much research Bray must have done into New York history to create such a well rounded and believable portrayal of the city. But she doesn’t stop there, the tone of the novel is also worth mentioning. Lair of Dreams is just dripping with a dark creepy tone that manages to make your skin crawl. The city becomes a character itself one that you don’t know if you can trust. The awful things that it has claimed to have swallowed up are returning, and the city has a long memory.
Finally, Bray deals with a lot of themes. Like a lot of themes, not until after I finished the novel did I realize how much was going on. Bray adds to her already developing racial critique by expanding more on the relationship between Theta and Memphis. Interracial relationships were looked down upon. Bray shows us Theta and Memphis struggling with finding a place where they can be together. One of the scenes that struck me rather hard was when Memphis tried to take Theta out to a nice club to go dancing. As one guesses it doesn’t go that well for them
Dreams also introduces Ling Chan, a girl who lives in the Chinese community of NYC. Through her we get to see the internal struggles of the community and the pressures on the community from the outside. I loved the focus on the shifting of culture and beliefs that Ling encounters. Throughout the course of her narrative it constantly comes up that no matter what the city does or the march to modernity creates the people never give up superstitions. Ling, represents this old versus new. She’s scientifically minded but she’s still a diviner. She’s entrenched in New York City’s Chinatown but longs to be a part of the hip New York culture. It’s only when she meets two other dream walkers Henry and Wai Mei that she starts to realize this and come into her own.
Then there are the subplots, SO MANY SUBPLOTS: what is Project Buffalo? Who is the King of the Crows, will Henry become a proper song writer? Evie and Sam’s fake relationship slowly becoming a real one? There are so many things going on in this book that it’s impossible to talk about them all. Every question that gets answered is replaced by a million new questions.
If you haven’t picked up this series yet, you totally need too. If you loved Bray’s previous Great and Terrible Beauty books than this series is for you. Or if you just like a good spooky urban fantasy series. My only question is… how long are we going to have to wait for the next one?