Lair of Dreams follows The Diviners as the second book in the new series by acclaimed young adult author, Libba Bray. The roaring twenties are in full swing when The Diviners’ heroine, Evie, sets off for New York from sleepy Zenith, Ohio. New York is full of vibrant characters, some with special supernatural abilities. Evil casts a shadow over Evie’s New York dreams, however, as she’s put in the path of a monstrous serial killer. Lair of Dreams picks up where The Diviners leaves off in a vibrant, hopeful, New York City entrenched in the flashy 1920s. Bray does an impressive job of weaving serious, important, timely themes of race, immigration, and sexual orientation into a supernatural historical fiction narrative. It’s hard to tell where Lair of Dreams’ historical elements leave actual history and become invented stories; lady radio priests, Klu Klux Klan marches, people who can walk in dreams or read objects, Eugenics societies, an FBI division of supernatural investigation, great men of industry romancing the country with their inventions, it all feels very real.
Graduating from obvious love triangles and typical Young Adult Novel romance tropes, Bray’s characters are blessedly more worried about the mysterious ghosts and monsters haunting the New York Subway system, than which boy or girl might be sweet on them. Romantic loves gets tangled with friendship; friendship occasionally trumps family. A slew of human relationships are explored with characters ranging from a gay-Southern-gentleman-songwriter to a crippled-science-obsessed-girl-with-immigrant-parents, most of them with unique Diviner abilities.
The first book in the new Diviners series was long, and a bit over complicated with characters. I am happy to report Bray’s second installment is a much more cohesive multi-perspective narrative. With 600 pages of text, Lair of Dreams is still hefty, and various scenes get repeated so frequently it borders on annoying, so my suggestion is to listen to the book. January LaVoy, who narrates Lair of Dreams, does so with skill and panache. She creates very unique voices for over 12 characters, drawing the listener immediately into the story. I’m still impersonating husky-voiced-kohl-eyed-flapper, Theta Knight, whenever I can.
I recommend The Diviners and Lair of Dreams to any young adult interested in historical fiction with a supernatural twist, and any adult who enjoys the same with the added lightness and occasional eye-roll associated with young adult fiction.