Dream a little dream of me, or my review of Lair of Dreams

Lair of Dreams

Lair of Dreams (Diviners #2)

By: Libba Bray

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: August 25th, 2015

Format: Hardcover

The longing of dreams draws the dead, and this city holds many dreams.

After a supernatural showdown 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, earning 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.

  

I’ll be honest, I read this so long ago that I can’t actually remember when I last read it. But when I looked over the blog, I realized that I’d never written up a review for Lair of Dreams, even though I wrote a review for the Diviners as one of the first posts I ever did. Since I was planning on rereading all of the books in preparation to read the newly-released third book, I decided to go ahead and write up a review.

I will state a disclaimer, that I liked this book more the second time around. When I read it the first time, I was expecting it to follow the same tone and characters as the Diviners, which it didn’t. Much like the covers, these books are maybe best viewed as separate entities conjoined by a familiar setting and people. It was startling the first time, not to see as much of Evie and her good-time air, and to have more focus on Henry and Ling. But the second time reading it, I had a greater appreciation for the book as a whole, and not simply as it follows the Diviners.

Henry and Ling are a fascinating set of characters to lead the book–we caught glimpses of Ling earlier, but didn’t get a good impression of her. In this book, we learn she’s half Chinese, wears braces as a result of polio, and is a dreamwalker like Henry. She’s somewhat prickly, focused on science and rationality, and has a fervent belief that the world can be better. She also follows tradition and values her family and what they do. She’s an excellent foil for Henry, whose silly demeanor and constant smiles mask tragedy. He ran away from his family after a fight over his choice of lovers, and has made a family of friends in New York. They meet by chance in dreams one night, and Ling agrees to help Henry find his old lover and bring him to New York.

But, while their traveling through dreams is the main plot, all of the usual characters are still around. Evie has become WGI Radio’s Sweetheart Seer, using her powers to gain fame, even as she continues running away from her inner demons. Theta is on her way to becoming Flo Ziegfield’s star, even as she tries to navigate her affection for Memphis. Memphis, coincidentally, is trying to come to terms with his refound Diviner gift of healing. Sam and Jericho, having been left in charge of the museum by Evie’s uncle Will, are trying to revive its brief popularity with an exhibit on the Diviners. Sam is still trying to find his mother, using a connection to Evie to try and do so, while Jericho is trying to get over Evie with her friend Mabel. Even writing all of this out is getting confusing–needless to say, there’s a compelling and intricate cast of characters all clamoring for page space. One thing that Libba does exceptionally well is give all of them page time, allowing us to see our favorites in turn, while still being clear that the main plot arc is between Henry and Ling.

And the Diviners are all facing a new challenge–a mysterious sickness, called the Sleeping Sickness, has started in Chinatown and is spreading through the various neighborhoods of New York, to the alarm of the citizens and government. Henry and Ling, in the meanwhile, discover a fascinating third dreamwalker, Mei Wae, who has created a vivid world of dreams. Ling, in particular, feels a connection to her, and the fantastical world of Old China that Mei Wae has created, even though she feels a sense of worry for this delicate, effervescent girl seemingly on her way to the United States alone. Henry, meanwhile, is relishing his time in dreams with Louis, even though in real life things aren’t quite lining up. The book is somewhat slow, balancing all of the elements with a delicacy that I envy, but there’s a constant tension and sense of foreboding within the story. The spread of the sickness, combined with the sense of emergent doom, creates a subtle tension that I deeply appreciated.

For the first time, all of the Diviners managed to band together to solve the issue. Theta, Memphis, Evie, Sam, Jericho, Mabel and Ling all combine forces to finally solve the issue of the sleeping sickness when it claims Henry. I’m trying not to spoil too much, but I will say that this sequence was what I had been waiting for since book one–all of the Diviners working together to beat some ghostly evil butt.

But it resolves the immediate tension while still making sure that there are plenty of issues to address in the third book. In fact, there are so many threads still running through that I’m still not sure whether it’s going to be wrapped up by the end of the series–but there was enough of a resolution at the end that I felt satisfied, and not like there was a cliffhanger. I especially appreciated how Henry managed to let Louis go, accept his identity (as much as he can in that era), and open himself up to new love. To say I’m looking forward to the third book, though, is an understatement.

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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.

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