Lair of Dreams (Diviners book #2)
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
The mystics of Manhattan, first introduced in The Diviners, are back. Evie has gone public about her ability to read people’s pasts through objects and hosts a hit radio show that has turned her into a celebrity. Sam and Jericho are trying to save the “creepy crawlies” museum from tax collectors at the same time that Sam tries to track down his long lost mother and keep up a sham relationship with Evie for the cameras. Theta and Memphis are having a hard time with their relationship because of Theta’s secrets from back home in Kansas. Mabel is still just pining around. Not a ton of surprises here. Out of all the characters, there are really only two new plot lines here. One is a “sleeping sickness” that is sweeping through Chinatown after some construction workers disturb an old subway tunnel. People fall asleep, dream about a woman in a bloody dress and/or a man in a stovepipe hat and never waking up again, dying after a few days and covered in bloody blisters. Dream walkers Henry and Ling, a new character who is half Irish-half Chinese, accidentally get involved with solving the mystery of the sleeping sickness while trying to find an old acquaintance of Henry’s via the dream world. The other new story is that there are mysterious government operatives following the diviners around, torturing people, and generally being really creepy.
Lair of Dreams suffers from second-book-in-a-series syndrome. It presents a lot of intrigue and mystery with almost no resolution to any of it, with the exception of the sleeping sickness. It’s a ton of exposition – like 613 pages’ worth – with little pay off. If I didn’t understand that this is book two in a four book series and fully recognize that Libba Bray is setting up the next book, I would feel seriously ripped off. All will be forgiven if books 3 and 4 rock, which if I know Libba Bray’s work, I think they will.
Hands down my favorite thing about this book is the role tunnels play. I don’t know what it is, but I love it when scenes in books are set in tunnels, sewers, catacombs, crawl spaces, or any mysterious, forgotten, subterranean space. Maybe it comes from reading too much Victorian literature, but there is just something about these spaces that is so automatically atmospheric. Nothing good happens in an abandoned tunnel or sewer. How cool is it to think about a whole other world below our feet and all the shady things that may be happening down there? I think “lair” in the title really captures this feeling nicely.
In honor of lairs, this read alikes list is dedicated to the books in which people go underground and face some creepy stuff. I’m forgetting or missing a lot of good ones. Add subterranean books in the comments.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
It by Stephen King
Under Wildwood by Colin Meloy
Dodger by Terry Pratchett
Drood by Dan Simmons
Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon