Another riveting, page-turning entry in Libba Bray's fantastic Diviners series, this intense installment is not for the weak of heart. More horror, more romance, more deaths, oh my. Bray isn't quite as vicious an author as George R.R. Martin, but these characters suffer and bleed and hurt. This is the sort of book you'll need to clear the calendar to finish, because it's long, and you won't want to put it down -- except for when you're overcome with feelings. It's hard not to love each member of this ensemble, even when they make questionable decisions. Ultimately, they're all so vulnerable; they all just want to be loved. It's also amazing how seamlessly Bray works in the characters' diverse backgrounds and identities, whether it's a brief mention of Sam's bubbe's borscht, or Ling's complex relationship with her polio, or African-American Memphis and Isaiah's inability to enter certain places. Mabel's ties to the socialist/communist labor movement is also well explored -- especially how radical youth can feel frustrated with more patient -- but just as committed to the cause -- older generations.
Despite being quick reads for invested fans, these books aren't easy reads. This installment in particular requires a lot of attention; you can't skim it or you'll miss a lot. But, as always, Bray infuses humor, historical trivia, and a good bit of romance to keep the story from being bloody and bleak. As for the characters, we've met them all, but Mabel, who has suffered from sidekick-itis this entire series, finally gets bumped up from a supporting role to her own, separate subplot. The Jericho-Evie-Sam love triangle is finally resolved, but not before there are enough twists and turns to nearly break a shipper's heart. And even previously uninterested Ling realizes she is capable of falling for someone. Prepare to feel all the feels, as the kids say, because Bray puts readers through the wringer!