“For dreams, too, are ghosts, desires chased in sleep, gone by morning.”
After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to “read” objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners’ abilities…
Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?
TW: suicide, body horror, racism, homophobia, self-harm, alcoholism, queer death
Not as hefty a TW list as the first book (and apologies if I missed something huge! let me know and I’ll add it right away), but certainly some heavy topics that crop up throughout.
Anyways, I honestly think Lair of Dreams was just as good as The Diviners, if not even better. We get to see more of all the previous characters, and we’re introduced to Ling Chan, who’s half-Irish, half-Chinese, disabled, and (as confirmed in Before the Devil Breaks You but on my radar in this book because all my personal alarm bells were going off) an asexual lesbian. I love Ling a lot; she’s straight to the point and a much needed voice of reason in this ragtag group of kids who tend to leap straight into trouble whether they really want to or not.
On the flip side, I do wish it wasn’t YET AGAIN the prickly voice of reason no fun allowed character who’s asexual. I’m always excited to see myself in a book, but always deflate a little when someone is aro/ace in some way and is super closed off. Give me some warm aro/ace characters. Give me aro/ace characters who clearly adore their friends or their family or their pets or their hobbies or whatever. Give me extroverted aro/ace characters, ones who like being around people. Hell, give me aro/ace characters who maybe even flirt, whether it’s because they’re not aro and ace at the same time, or because it’s fun, or literally anything. I’m just asking for aro/ace characters who aren’t the icy, logical part of the team. Just once.
THAT ASIDE, the plot in Lair of Dreams starts to shift away from the classic murder mystery structure of The Diviners, delving more deeply into the leftover questions about Project Buffalo, the Diviners themselves, and then a little bit of ghostly murder because there’s always some ghostly murder with this series. Can’t be totally avoided, after all! We get more of the side characters, like Blind Bill Johnson and Will Fitzgerald and Sister Walker, but we get so much more of the main characters, especially Henry, Ling, and Memphis. It’s a lot going on, as usual, but it’s captivating because it’s beginning to answer some of the questions that have propelled everything so far, even things that happened before the start of the first book. That, and it asks new questions, which is crucial for keeping the plot moving.
It’s wonderful that this book doesn’t fall victim to the second book slump like a lot of series do, because that’s always my biggest fear in a series. It’s happened so many times before that I always anticipate it, even when I want to really love a book. That just makes this book so much better because it defied that anxious expectation. It’s creative, the source of the ghostly murdering is a twist I didn’t see coming on my first read until it was too late, and the character development is fantastic. It’s hard to balance a large cast, but somehow, Libba Bray does it anyways, knocking it out of the park and earning a solid 4.5 stars from me!
Have you read Lair of Dreams? What did you think of it? If you did, who’s your favorite Diviner? Mine’s Theta always and forever, of course, even though this wasn’t really a book about her. I can’t help but love her. ♥