Lair of Dreams
I have a confession. A reading confession: I don’t like ensemble casts in books. Every so often it works because the story being told is just so darn epic it needs a whole host of heroes and heroines. Think Lord of the Rings. But for the most part I prefer that the story concentrate primarily on just a few characters, no more than four. That way I get to know them, love them, bond with them and through them, bond with the book. This book had a whole slew of characters and to make it worse, I didn’t like quite a few of them.
This is book two in Ms. Bray’s Diviners series but you don’t have to read book one to be able to read this one. In the last novel the main character, Evie O’Neill, fought a serial killer and was outed as a diviner. Which is abso-tively divine dahling because it is 1920s New York and diviners are all the rage. She has her own radio show where she uses her special power to read items for guests and tell them what they want to know (your husband isn’t cheating, he’s planning your birthday party!) and she is all the rage in the rags. Of course, she pays one of the reporters to make sure she makes the pages daily but still, she’s news and that ain’t half bad for a kid from Ohio. Let me just make an editorial comment here and say the slang pos-i-tute-ly drove me crazy. Dropping in a word here and there adds ambience to our time and location but entire conversations of it in chapter after chapter? Shudder.
So Evie (called Evil by her friends on occasion) is going to all the happening clubs, throwing parties and getting kicked out of hotels on a regular basis. She’s in, she’s loving it and she is never going back to that Podunk town she came from. Which is why she is on the outs with her Uncle Will, curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition and the Occult. After her supernatural showdown with the killer, he made plans to put her on a train home. No Way. She’s here, she’s staying, she’s partying.
Meanwhile the rest of the city is sleeping. As in a deep, supernatural dangerous sleep from which they never awaken. It starts in China town, where seventeen year old Ling Chan is a dream walker who can meet your dead relative in a dream and speak to them – for a price. When she meets Henry, another who walks in dreams, her powers start to grow. But is it safe for them to practice their talent while the world seems to be fading into twilight around them?
There are a lot of story lines here I haven’t touched upon – Henry’s search for his lost lover, Sam’s search for his mother, Jericho’s emotional triangle with Mabel and Evie, Will’s search for answers to something or other, the mysterious boxes in the basement of the museum, Memphis and his healing powers, Theta and her big secrets, Blind Bill’s plans, the mysterious men watching the museum – I could go on but then you’d just get as overwhelmed as I was. And I think that was the big problem – while I know all these stories will wind up tying together somehow I was more overwhelmed than intrigued by them.
Also, while Evie is our primary heroine who we know will manage to save the city from this latest threat, I didn’t like her much. Little miss “Sweetheart Seer” (her moniker in the press) was too obsessed with being popular for my liking. She has some nice traits but her immaturity and selfishness made it easy to ignore them for most of the novel. The other characters flitted on and off the pages too quickly for me to connect with them. On occasion an absolutely fascinating plot will make up for that but that wasn’t the case here so I closed the book having developed no investment in the story whatsoever.
The novel did have some good points – the prose is excellent, the author nails her location and time period, the history was interesting – but they didn’t stir any emotions in me beyond making the reading experience pleasant if not riveting.
So this book wasn’t really my cuppa. Maybe it will be yours if you are into long plots with lots and lots of characters and story lines.