ARC Review: Lair of Dreams-Libba Bray


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cooltext1889161239 copyAfter a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to “read” objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners’ abilities…

Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?

cooltext1889171582 copy4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

 READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You’re hungering for diversity. Lair of Dreams lights on class issues, politics, disability, abuse (trafficking), racial issues, eugenics, and LGBT relationships. 
  • You love historical fiction or history in general. There are so many important issues raised that you quickly become engrossed in the colloquialisms, manners, expectations. Everything is made of speakeasy lingo and the old time euphoria of the early 1900s. 
  • You’re looking for something creepy crawly and horrific. The mixture of multicultural folklore, ghosts, and governmental coverups will make your skin crawl. 
  • You adore Libba Bray. Each book is a new, wonderful surprise with multidimensional and unique characters set in intriguing places rife with crime and mystery. 

PROS:

  • Diversity galore. Early 1900s beliefs and politics couple with each character. They all have something to overcome and work through. Historical truths like the Chinese Exclusion Act, the rise of the KKK, and raids on underground LGBT clubs all find their place in this unique story. Not only do we get to see conflicts that are relevant and the United States struggles with to this day but you get the different perspectives. From the extremely religious, from the Chinese restaurant owner, from a young gay lover who wants to find his place, and a woman who is hiding from an abusive past. There’s a little bit of everything and you’ll feel for every single character. 
  • Mysteries that started to develop in book one are even more prominent. The clues are everywhere. Everything is connected. The layering is astounding. 
  • The ghosts are out of this world horrifying and totally ghastly, a cross between malicious poltergeist and zombie, between their hunger, the chilling sounds, the music box song, and the general way they skitter and widen their jaws to eat people alive, have fun trying to sleep with the lights off!
  • Evie is far from the focal point. Each character has his or her part. I loved the mix of culture and drama. Romance is on the horizon for each character. It’s messy, complicated, and just when you think you’ve got it figured out, another twist is thrown in. 
  • The dreamwalker world is intensely detailed and vibrant. You can picture everything and here, the emotions are larger. Desire meets desperation and happiness goes from total ecstasy to utter devastation. It’s a rocky, bittersweet, and often scary place. 
  • Ling and Henry quickly became my favorite characters. Their situations are fueled by haunting encounters, desire, and a strong thirst for freedom from the oppressive gaze of society. Ling is unexpected. A young girl with a disability that she won’t let rule her, she pushes past the bullies and the bigots, she uses her brain and things of science, working on becoming a future famous inventor. Henry’s past is intoxicating. His life on the bayou, his romance, the strict upbringing all took me by surprise. 
  • Sam. You can never really know a person. Just when you thought that Sam was an insufferable flirt with fast hands and a tendency to rob people blind, always looking for the next con, the past comes out like a slap to the face. Suddenly Sam has all this hidden depth that you don’t quite know what to do with. His hurt, confusion, and determination all center on his missing mother. He’s got feelings, true, brutal emotions that lurk just under the surface of his carefree attitude. 

CONS:

  • There are even more character POV swaps than the last book. Though all engrossing stories with their own contributions to the plot, it can be a little overwhelming, especially in a book 600-odd pages. The constantly flip-flopping back and forth actually left way more questions than answers. 
  • It took ages for the clues to build up to the point of uncovering the truth. For a novel that is set during a time span of less than a month, it felt much longer. 

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