Lair of Dreams
by Libba Bray
The longing of dreams draws the dead, and this city holds many dreams.
After a supernatural show down with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. With her uncanny ability to read people’s secrets, she’s become a media darling and earned the title “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” Everyone’s in love with the city’s newest It Girl… everyone except the other Diviners.
Piano-playing Henry Dubois and Chinatown resident Ling Chan are two Diviners struggling to keep their powers a secret–for they can walk in dreams. And while Evie is living the high life, victims of a mysterious sleeping sickness are turning up across New York City.
As Henry searches for a lost love and Ling strives to succeed in a world that shuns her, a malevolent force infects their dreams. And at the edges of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans that extend farther than anyone can guess… As the sickness spreads, can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld to save the city?
In this heart-stopping sequel to The Diviners, Printz award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray takes readers deeper into the mystical underbelly of New York City.
Check out my review of The Diviners!
I think it’s safe to say that Libba Bray is on her way to becoming one of my favourite authors, and this series is on its ways to becoming one of my favourites, too.
If I thought Libba Bray’s research for The Diviners was good, it absolutely shines in this book. The establishment of Chinatown in New York, and the general history of America’s Asian American communities, isn’t something I’ve thought much about before and I don’t think it’s something that’s very well known, but Bray tackles all of that in this second instalment in her YA historical paranormal series.
After Evie outed herself as a Diviner, she’s now become something of a celebrity in New York City with her very own radio show, and she’s living the life she’s always wanted. Kind of. She goes to parties and hangs out with the popular crowd, but it’s clear from the start that part of her almost constant drunkenness in this book is down to her struggling to cope with the events of the previous book.
Away from Evie, though, an illness known as the ‘sleeping sickness’ is spreading from Chinatown, in which people fall asleep and simply don’t wake up. They start to develop rashes, almost like they’re being burned, and then they die.
It’s through this sickness that we finally meet Ling, who appeared very briefly in the previous book, a mixed race girl of Irish and Chinese descent who has the ability to dreamwalk. It’s an ability she shares with Henry, Theta’s close friend from the previous book, and while we do have plenty of scenes with Evie, Theta, Memphis and Sam, it’s safe to say that Lair of Dreams is very much Ling and Henry’s book. And I loved it.
The friendship that develops between Ling and Henry is wonderful. They’re the kind of people that shouldn’t get along, in fact they’re very aware that they’re very different people, and yet they bond through their shared gift which they end up putting to use trying to find a way to cure the sleeping sickness.
It was so lovely to get to know Henry properly, and to discover his backstory, and to finally meet Ling. While The Diviners is very much about Evie, what I love about this series is how clear it is that this is a series with an ensemble cast, where no one character is more important or valued than the other and they’re all allowed to have strengths and foibles. Plus the banter between them all is brilliant – particularly Evie and Sam, whose scenes together are like striking a match.
What made me love this book so much more than The Diviners, and I already loved The Diviners a great deal, was the antagonist’s story and the very sad realisation that the societal issues Bray focuses on are still relevant today. There are encounters with the KKK and the gross idea of ‘keeping America white’, and the kind of toxic nationalism we can currently see going on both in the USA and here in the UK. There’s so much packed into this book, but it never feels like an information overload or like Bray is preaching at us. I’d love to have a history lesson on the 1920s as taught by Libba Bray.
Each book in this series so far has felt like the new season of a TV show, and considering we’re now in the ’20s again I’d really like this series to be picked up for television. It would be a fantastic TV show in the right hands, and I would love to watch these characters on screen.
Until then, I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!