Extended Review: Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

It’s the curse of loving a series. Sometimes, when you wait for the next book for such a long time, you start to doubt if you really want it. Was the first one as good as you remembered? Who were the characters again, anyway? You already have so many other books to read. 

In the case of Libba Bray‘s Diviners novels, we had an extra-long wait for the second title, as Bray publicly battled some very serious writer’s block. There was a whopping three years between books — The Diviners came out in 2012, Lair of Dreams hits stores today — but because Bray was so open about her struggles, I made a point to keep tabs on the series, and I grabbed the new title as soon as it was available. 

I’ve heard authors discuss how there’s no harder thing to write than chapter two of book two. You’ve got to catch readers up, but not annoy those who remember what happened. To Bray, the feat must’ve seemed even more difficult, as she had three years and 600 pages to overcome. But I’ve loved everything else she’s ever written, so I had faith. And boy was I rewarded. Lair of Dreams is a true 600-page treat. Bray slowly reacclimates you to her world as she introduces her POV characters, both new and old. I slowly remembered, Evie, yes, of course! And Jericho! That sneaky Sam! Henry! I’ll stop shouting names at you! But Bray manages to weave in enough context clues to reaquaint readers without bogging us down with exposition. 

She also introduces some new characters, including Ling, a half-Chinese girl who can walk through dreams — just like Henry. Only there’s a terrible sleeping sickness taking over the city. There’s a myriad of other plotlines going on too, but it all slowly comes together, as the stakes get higher — just like they’re supposed to in book two.

But aside from the intricate plotting, I’d argue that the best part about these novels is the setting. Bray’s 1920s New York is vivid and chaotic as she takes us from Harlem to Chinatown and back again. We see the crowds adoring Evie, the angry mobs threatening Ling, Theta and Henry scrambling through the masses as they try to hit it big. 

I know. I’m talking about a lot of plot lines and a lot of characters. There are 600 pages to get through, in addition to those other 600 pages you have to recall, at least a little. You’ll have to be patient. Give Lair of Dreams some time. This is a book to savor. That way we won’t have to start waiting for the next book too soon. 

Lair of Dreams is out today, and you can get your copy on Amazon, Barnes Noble, Kobo or iBooks. You can also find a print copy at your neighborhood bookstore on IndieBound. For more YA news you can use, be sure to visit our Everything Young Adult page. 

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