Happy Friday everyone! As a minor character says throughout the Diviner series: “The time is now!” The final book in the Diviners series The King of Crows comes out on TUESDAY! After so many years, we’ll finally see how this series ends. I read the first book back around Christmas 2015 and I’ve read/listened to the first book 3 times. I also listened to books 2 and 3 this past month to get ready for the final book.
So, in case you don’t have time to read the first 3 before The King of Crows, I have my own timeline recap plus some very helpful articles that cover any extra details I may have missed. A big shout to the Sara @ Book Series Recap for doing an AMAZING job at recapping the series. I have linked her posts for books 1-3 below and they’re super helpful. Any details I missed are found in their posts.
**NOTE: If you have not read books 1-3, there are MAJOR SPOILERS ahead! This is a recap of the series with constant spoilers** I will also include my original reviews, as well as any updates thoughts I have. Let’s jump in!
1. Book One: The Diviners (2012)
Original publication date: September 18th, 2012
Goodreads Synopsis: Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened…
Opening Scene: It’s a birthday party and the band is dying down and it’s late. A group of kids at this party want to lighten things up, so one of them suggests playing with the Oujia board. While there’s some reluctance, they start playing and they start conversing with a presence named Naughty John. But things get out of control and Naughty John is released into the world, beginning the Diviners series.
Character Recap (Book One):
- Evie O’Neill (Object reader, age 17): Evie is the central focus in this book and for most of the series. She is originally from Zenith, Ohio and her older brother James died during WWI. They had a close bond, but she doesn’t have much of a bond with her distracted mother and father. Her parents don’t believe her object reading talent and never take her seriously. After she reads an object that belongs to a pompous boy and she blurts out a scandalous thing he did, her parents demand her to apologize. Knowing what that boy is really like, Evie stands up for herself and refuses. So for things to quietly smooth over at home, Evie goes to live with her uncle William Fitzgerald in Manhattan. There, she reunites wither childhood friend Mable Rose and also meets Theta, Henry and Sam.
- During her stay in Manhattan, Evie butts heads with Will due to wanting to go out to parties all the time. Will is a scholar man who owns the “Creepy Crawlies” and isn’t social or jovial. Will threatens to send her back several times, but Evie keeps convincing him to let her stay. Their relationship is a strained one throughout the series, since Will knows things about her family that she doesn’t.
- When the Pentacle Killings start happening, Will gets roped into helping from one of the detectives whose a familiar acquaintance. Evie goes with him to the first murder scene, where a girl named Ruta was killed and her eyes were taken. Evie accidentally touches one of the girl’s shoe buckles and has a disturbing vision of the murder but she keeps it from Will. As the murders keep happening, Evie teams up with Jericho (Will’s ward) and Sam so they can track down the killer themselves.
- Evie is a party girl who doesn’t like to think about serious things or make serious decisions. But beneath her party exterior, she is a lonely girl who never felt loved by her parents, misses her brother dearly and also feels lonely and misunderstood. She isn’t sure about her ability, but keeps trying to use it as the killings get worse and her curiosity takes her to more places to find out the truth.’
- Jericho Jones (non-Diviner, exact age unknown): Jericho lives with Will, who took him as a ward when he was young. Jericho was sick as a child and was put into an iron lung device to help him get better. He is a subject of an experiment run by mogul Jake Marlowe. Jericho has mechanical parts inside of him that help keep him alive. He has a special blue serum that he has to take. He has super strength and endurance but keeps this a secret. He has a crush on Evie and secretly wants to pursue her, but he is shy about being in a relationship. He’s also a scholar like Will and his interests do bore Evie and they do butt heads sometimes. He also develops a mental rivalry with Sam, since he thinks that Sam also likes Evie.
- Theta Knight (real name: Betty Sue Bowers, also about age 17): Theta is an aspiring actress who lives with her friend Henry. Theta changed her name after coming to New York to get away from her past that she’s running from. She works as a show girl in the Ziegfeld Follies shows and is close with Henry. Her acting talent does start to get noticed by the management and she keeps working it to make it big in show business. Her power and past isn’t really explored in book one. Her and Evie become fast friends and both are party girls. Then, during a raid at a speak easy, she meets Memphis who helps her escape and they eventually fall in love.
- Mabel Rose (non-Diviner, friend of Evie, about age 17): Mabel is Evie’s childhood friend has always been there for Evie. Her mother was from a wealthy socialite family, but after marrying her husband for love, her family cut her off financially. Mabel’s parents are also activists who keep trying to get rights for people, laws changed and many other things through peaceful methods. Mabel has grown up in this political atmosphere and is very knowledgeable about the current political climate. She’s the opposite of Evie, with not being a partier and dresses more plain. She knows about Evie’s powers but she struggles with finding her own person. She has a crush on Jericho in book one.
- William Fitzgerald (Evie’s uncle, age unknown but possible 30’s): William is a bachelor who lives with Jericho. Evie’s mother is his sister. We see that he is very business like, scholarly and not caring to develop any relationship with Evie. He comes off as very dry, smart but antisocial and keeps to himself. He gets asked by a police detective he knows to help with Pentacle Murders as they occur. While he studies the occult, he doesn’t actually believe it or so he says. We learn more about him in future books.
- Henry DuBois IV (Dream walker, about age 17): Henry comes from a well off family in Louisiana. His mother became mentally ill and is a ghost of her former self and she was the one who loved him. His father was cruel and planned out Henry’s future and is verbally abusive. Henry is also gay and had a relationship with a boy named Louis before his father found out and Henry eventually ran away. He sees a starving and dishelved Theta one day in New York and by offering her part of a sandwhich and a couch to sleep on, they become best friends. He is an aspiring musician who wants to write his own music. He also works at the Follies with Theta as the piano player but he’s never taken seriously. He’s a laid back, respectable and nice guy who secretly still hopes Louis is still alive. His story expands in Lair of Dreams.
- Memphis & Isaiah Campbell (Healer and Seer, African-American, about age 17 and 6): The Campbell brothers live in Harlem with their aunt Octavia. Their mother died years ago and while Memphis tried to heal her, it didn’t work and Memphis believes his healing power died with her. He works for Papa Charles, a prominent gangster in Harlem but also is an upcoming poet. He falls for Theta after they escape a raid and start meeting in secret. Isaiah is his younger brother and he’s a bright and smart boy. He secretly works on his powers, like reading cards and other things with their neighbor Sister Walker. Isaiah also visions of numbers and other prominent things and he is often scared about his powers. Both are key players in the series.
- Sergei Labovich (a.k.a. Sam Lloyd) (Invisibility, Russian, age 17): Sam is a pickpocket and very quick witted. He meets Evie when she comes to NYC and steals her $20.00 (its a running reference) and she steals his jacket in return as payback. He ran away from his dad years ago and his mother was taken by Project Buffalo but then disappeared. He’s on the hunt for the truth of what happens to her and has an informant who used to work for the government. He keeps running into Evie and eventually starts hanging around the museum and helps her and Jericho find the Pentacle Killer. He is a love interest for Evie.
- Bill Johnson “Blind Bill”: Blind Bill is an old African American man who lives around Harlem. He has gambling debts and keeps hoping for a lucky number. After overhearing that Isaiah is a diviner, he sticks around the Campbell brothers to see what he can find out. He had a lot of horrible stuff done to him and his powers were taken away so he hopes to get them back. He becomes a stronger minor character in the following books.
- Pentacle Murders: The serial killer in this book is a man named John Hobbs. He keeps calling himself the Anti-Christ and he takes something from each of his victims. He took eyes from Ruta, lips from Gabriel (Memphis’s friend), hands from a boy named Tommy, feet from a Mason named Eugene and the skin from a dancer at the theater (Theta was also the victim). He’s doing these things as part of a ritual that involves these body parts and a comet that is going to go over NYC in a few days. There’s 10 offerings that he needs to make and his final offering is by killing his devout follower Mary White, whom Evie had visited to get answers. He is originally from the 1800’s and in life, he seduced a woman named Mary White who became a devout follower. They took over a place called Knowles End, after the Knowles girl lost her parents and became ill. They used that house for their murders and dark experiments until Hobbs was hanged and White disappeared. He was brought back by a Ouija board in the beginning chapter. In the end, Evie and Jericho find out how to send him back into death at Knowles End. Evie finds herself in the basement and faces off against him, but not before Naughty John references Evie’s brother James. Then at the very end, a man in a stovepipe hat emerges and says that the time is now.
Full novel recap article: Book Series Recap: The Diviners
I love this first book SO much! I was so enraptured in the setting, creepiness, characters and the mystery revolving around the murders. I was freaked out by how amazingly the narrator captured Naughty John and his scenes with his victims. Since having read this book 3 times, this first installment has perfect pacing, great foreshadowing, education on the 1920’s and memorable characters that I’ve grown to love! This is one of the best series openers ever! My original review is linked below:
Book Two: Lair of Dreams (2015)
Original Publication Date: August 25th, 2015
Goodreads Synopsis: 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?
Opening Scene: Down in the tunnels of New York City, men are working hard to create another tunnel, one of the men finds a music box and a skeleton. One of the men, a Chinese man, is nervous about the body and warns the men to not interfere with the body. Then a wind rushes down the tunnel and they hear crying and it spooks the men. Later that night as they go to sleep, they enter the dream world and they hear a lullaby. They start to develop blisters and they never wake up, beginning the Sleeping Sickness.
Character Recap (Book Two):
- Evie O’Neill: After spilling the beans about her talent to the press after the Pentacle Murders stop, Evie is now called “The Sweetheart Seer” with her own radio show and being easily recognized on the streets. She loves reading objects for people, despite resistance from Will. Even though her and Jericho kiss at the end of book 1, she is still on the outs with him and won’t openly admit that she misses him. But then she gets caught up in a fake engagement story when Sam blurts it to the press and her radio management. They immediately become the “it” couple for a time and Evie is trying to keep up the act. She only does this because she agreed to help Sam find out more info on Project Buffalo, where Sam’s mom got involved and disappeared. During the fake romance, she questions about her feelings for Sam and is caught between liking two boys.
- During a radio show, a guy gives her a comb to read. Come to find out, the comb belonged to her brother James and she interrogates the man who had the comb. He eventually, through a lot of pushing, reveals that he was paid to do it by two men in dark suits. This crushes Evie, after knowing that someone had her brother’s comb.
- Evie and Sam having a daring adventure when they try to learn more about Project Buffalo. They come to know that the Department of the Paranormal is in the basement of the post office, so they use Sam’s invisibility and lock picking skills to break into the old offices. There they find files and huge map of the U.S. that shows 144 subjects of Project Buffalo across the country. Subject 0 is from Zenith, Ohio and Evie realizes that it was James who was Subject 0. They take documents and mysterious punch cards and they hope to find a card reader to see what’s on them. Despite two men in dark suits also coming into the abandoned office, Sam and Evie escape.
- Ling Chan ( Dream Walker, Half-Chinese, half-Irish, about age 17): Ling is our new character in book 2 and we focus on her and Henry, since they are both dream walkers. Her father is Chinese and her mother is Irish and they run a family restaurant. Ling longs to be a scientist and studies a lot instead of making friends. She can come off as abrupt and rude, but she is very logical but kind and understanding at times. Due to infantile paralysis, she has to use crutches and wear ugly orthopedic shoes to walk. She is mocked both in and outside of Chinatown for being the offspring of an interracial couple. But as the Sleeping Sickness spreads in Chinatown, Ling starts to dream walk with a purpose to find out the truth of why its happening. As long as she has a person’s personal item, she can communicate with them in the dream world.
- Sadly, her friend George Wong becomes a victim of the sickness. Many of the citizens of Chinatown start to endure random checks, harassment and racism as the sickness spreads. They’re starting to be contained in the area and some are threatened with deportation if they don’t have their papers. Ling fights against this prejudice and continues forward, despite the risk her father being deported for being Chinese.
- Ling and Henry meet in the dream world and Ling is shocked to find another person who can dream walk like she can. Henry isn’t phased by her abrasive personality and they start to rely on each other and become friends. She also chooses to help him find Louis, whom Henry hasn’t heard from in a long time.
- As their power grows when they’re around one another, Ling and Henry see a veiled woman screaming “murder!” and they keep seeing the same location and hearing the same word over and over again. They also sense a sinister presence in the dream world as the Sleeping Sickness spreads, but they don’t put the two together at first. Ling also meets another dream walker Wai-Mae, who is coming to America to be in an arranged marriage. Wai-Mae shows Ling what she is capable of and they also form a strong bond.
- With her interest in the sciences, Ling really looks up to rising mogul Jake Marlowe. She gets to meet him personally and gets a personal note to let her into his upcoming Future of America exhibition.
- When Chinatown is raided more by government officials, Ling goes to her uncle’s opera house that he runs. She not only hides there temporarily, but asks him questions on how to put spirits to rest. Her uncle talks about how a pearl can help someone rest by putting it in their mouth. She ends up doing this to Wai-Mae who is the cause of the Sleeping Sickness.
- Henry DuBois IV (Dream Walker #2): This book also focuses on Henry and we learn more about his past and he also tries to look for Louis. This book shows a lot of flashbacks to Henry’s childhood, growing up with his cruel father and mentally unstable mother. We see his relationship blossom with Louis, but they keep it secret and Henry has to keep suppressing his dreams of being a musician to his father. Eventually, Louis vanished and Henry ran away to get away from his planned future and because his mother begged him to escape.
- With Ling’s help, Henry finds Louis again and they’re overjoyed to reunite. Henry promises to send Louis some information to him in reality to help get Louis to NYC. But knowing that he can always see Louis in the dream world, Henry starts dream walking way too often. He starts to become more tired, irritated and he and Theta have a few blow ups since she’s worried about him. But he ignores her and they’re on the outs until the end of the book.
- Sadly, the sad truth is revealed that Louis died a long time ago. Some men were paid by Henry’s father to pay him to leave Henry alone or rough him up. Louis ends up being beat up and suffers a fatal head injury. Henry is devastated to learn this from Louis, but he is able to say goodbye before Louis and his loyal dog Gaspar disappear.
- Theta Knight (Fire Creator, aspiring actress, about age 17): Theta plays less of a role in book 2 but still stays a key role in the Diviners group. Her acting career keeps going up, while in her personal life, she keeps seeing Memphis in secret and falls more in love with him. But when Henry starts dream walking too much and soon doesn’t wake up, she gets Evie and the others to help free Henry from the dream world. In one memorable scene, she’s with Sam in the dark subway tunnels and they’re attacked by ghostly demons. Theat’s fire powers come to life and she makes the monsters disappear. She makes Sam swear secrecy, since she’s ashamed of her power. Her power is unpredictable and she keeps a slight distance from Memphis because of it. At the end of the book, she receives a mysterious note saying that someone has found her and knows about her true identity.
- Sam Lloyd (Russian, Invisibility, about age 17): We get more of Sam in book 2 and he’s a riot. He cooks up a fake engagement story about him and Evie to coerce her into helping him with Project Buffalo. During this fake romance, he falls hard for her. Both him and Evie work on finding information on the government project and they find punch cards with info on them and learn that there were 144 subjects before it was shut down. He also saves Evie from being shot by a war vet named Luther Clayton during a public event. This scores him big points from the public and there’s plenty of romantic tension between them. We also learn at the end of book 2 that his mother Miriam is still alive but being held hostage by the men in the dark suits. Sam and Evie also show the rest of the Diviners the documents they found at the end, leading them to question what role they play when Will and Sister Walker come to the museum.
- Jericho Jones (non-Diviner, has mechanical parts inside him, exact age unknown): Mostly Jericho is a side player in book 2. He does talk to Jake Marlowe, who seeks him out and tries to get him to be in the Future of America Exhibition. He agrees to go and he also promises to spy and find info at Marlowe’s estate. He does go on a date with Mabel, but they don’t work out. He still has a complicated relationship with Evie.
- Memphis & Isaiah Campbell (Healer and Seer, African-American, about age 17 and 6): Both Campbell brothers are lesser central characters in book 2, especially Isaiah. His scenes mainly consist of Blind Bill befriending him and trying to get information out of the boy. In secret, Bill also steals a bit of Isaiah’s energy in hope of restoring his lost powers. Memphis continues to court Theta in secret, but he senses some hesitation in her. Memphis also teams up with the rest of the Diviners to help get rid of the Sleeping Sickness and help Henry.
- Sister Margaret Walker (seeker of Diviners, African-American, age unknown): Maragret Walker is an older woman who looks after the Campbell brothers. Despite her going to jail, she helps the boys as best she can. Come to find out, she worked with Will, Jake Marlowe and Rodka Wasserman on Project Buffalo. She keeps trying to convince Memphis to try and strengthen his powers in books 1 and 2 but Memphis evades her. She ends up traveling with Will for finding answers and they find the Diviners all together at the museum at the end of the book.
- Adelaide Proctor (witch, lives at the Bennington, age: 81): Adelaide is one of the old women who live in the Bennington Hotel with her sister Lillian. She is a gifted witch and senses the presence of the Diviners like Evie. Come to find out, she once loved a man named Elijah who died in war. But after she performs a ritual to speak to him again. Later, in a fevered dream, the man in the stovepipe hat convinces her to unearth Elijah’s belongings. He rises from the dead and she is shocked to see him again, knowing he is bound to her forever. These two ladies know about the man in the stovepipe hat and try to use protective spells, like salt, around the hotel to protect it. They still have a bigger role to play.
- Wai-Mae/Sleeping Sickness: It is later revealed that Wai-Mae is the cause of the Sleeping Sickness. After she came to America from China, she found out her marriage was a lie and she was forced to work in a brothel. She later contracted syphilis of the mouth and ended up wearing a veil, while also becoming an opium addict. She later kills the man who ran the brothel, but she was buried alive and never passed onto the afterlife. She feeds upon people’s dreams and when they promise to dream with her, she feeds off their energy until they’re dead. She ends up taking Henry, offering Louis in exchange for dreaming with her. He becomes her hostage and nearly dies under her grip. But when the Diviners confront her, Ling shoves a pearl into Wai-Mae’s mouth after they find her remains and she’s able to pass on.
Full novel recap here: Book Series Recap: Lair of Dreams
When I first listened this, I didn’t love it. I thought it was slow and didn’t move the overarching story very much. I did like learning more about Ling and Henry, but didn’t think the sequel was a great follow up. On my second listen, I liked this much more after knowing how it ends. I caught more smaller character moments and tried to follow the foreshadowing. I aslo see the time the author takes to show the political and social unrest that becomes more important in the series. My rating jumped from a 3.5 star read to a 4.25 on my second listen. My original review is linked below:
Book Three: Before the Devil Breaks You (2017)
Original publication date: October 3rd 2017
Goodreads Synopsis: New York City.
Lights are bright.
Jazz is king.
Parties are wild.
And the dead are coming…
After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that early claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough of lies. They’re more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward’s Island, far from the city’s bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten–ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows.
With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over, and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them fact-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they’ve ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation–a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves.
Opening Scene: On Ward’s Island is an asylum for the insane. Fog rolls in towards the island and one of the patients, Connor Flynn, notices the fog and is nervous. Luther Clayton, a war vet in a wheelchair, also notices and starts mumbling in terror. The hospital staff, especially an orderly named Big Mike tries to get the men to stop babbling about the fog. One of the nurses starts to become nervous herself. The orderly opens the window and the fog rolls in and several of the inmates are terrified, since they know what is in the fog. That night, two of the hospital staff are brutally murdered, since the fog possessed one of the inmates.
Character Recap (Book Three):
- Evie O’Neill (Sweetheart seer, age 17): Evie really goes through the ringer in this book like the other Diviners do. They’re all together in the museum, talking about their powers, their connected feelings about the man in the stovepipe hat and also what they witnessed in the subway tunnels. Evie is still unnerved about the ghosts they had fought. But Evie’s radio show starts to falter, as Americans aren’t as trusting of the Diviners anymore. The radio head man tells her that people would rather listen to Sara Snow, an evangelist who is starting to conquer the airwaves. Evie tries what she can, trying to be more upbeat with her show like the executives tell her. So to get the upper hand, Evie calls up her press acquaintance Woody to try and get an appointment with Luther Clayton, the disturbed vet who tried to shoot her in the last book. Luther is on Ward’s Island, in the insane asylum.
- Evie still believes that her brother James is trying to communicate with her through her dreams. She still keeps trying to find out more information about him after reading his comb in book 2 and being shaken about what she saw.
- She also tries to start dating Jericho, but this makes Mabel jealous.
- After much pressing of Will and Sister Walker, Evie learns that James was given the special “vitamin tonic” that the Project Buffalo subjects were given. While most of them were pregnant women that were given the tonic, the tonic also saved James when he was young. Then, while Evie was never meant to have the tonic, her mother was pregnant with Evie and ended up taking the tonic anyway. Will didn’t know she was pregnant until later. This revelation ultimately makes the rift between Evie and Will much stronger and sadly never mends again.
- Evie and Sam go to Ward’s Island without the others on the tour that was promised them for the papers. But once they’re there, they find out that by police orders, Luther can’t receive any visitors. So both of them take a sudden chance to escape from the crowd and go find Luther. When they find him, they find out that the Eye has Luther, but they don’t understand.
- On the second visit to see Luther, she ends up seeing his memories. Luther and Sam had romantic feelings for each other during the experiments and looked out for each other. Luther had an awful premonition of something bad happening and didn’t want to join the experiment. But then a rip in the dimensions happens and people are sucked into it. Luther screams and begs her to “heal the breach” and “follow the eye.”
- One of the most shocking moments Evie learns is when they finally have the card reader at Marlowe’s estate when they visit Jericho. They see that the cards that Sam and Evie found in the abandoned office were the files of the 144 subjects. But since the reader doesn’t work on the last one, she tries object reading again and she learns that most of the subjects are dead and that she senses the presence of Sam’s mother Miriam.
- Later in the book, Sara Snow and Jake Marlowe set up Evie during an event to disprove the Diviners. Evie secretly had some alcohol from Woody before taking the stage and she’s bombarded by Marlowe and the audience. Americans are not trusting Diviners anymore, calling them fake and they boo her on the stage. But Evie tries to stand her ground, talking about Project Buffalo and Marlowe’s connection. She says her brother died in the war and was a subject, but the alcohol makes her stumble and be humiliated.
- At the end of the book, Evie is at the radio station, where the executive tries to get her to sign a form, saying that she is a loyal American and doesn’t associate with her Diviner friends or anarchists. She doesn’t sign and quits the radio show and walks out. She also vows to find Sam after a shoe shiner boy tells her that he saw two men taking Sam, who tried to tell the boy she was in trouble. She tells Theta and vows to find him.
- Jericho Jones (non-Diviner, has mechanical parts inside him, exact age unknown): For most of this book, Jericho is at Marlowe’s estate. Not only does he need the special serum to stay alive, but he is also looking for the card reader that the Diviners need to read the documents they found in book 2. He is given an upgraded version of the serum and he loves the high he gets with even more strength and endurance. He relishes in feeling so alive and also pines over Evie a lot. But one night, he hears a girl whisper to him and he isn’t sure where its coming from. Then, he sees two men in dark suits handling a woman who says she is Anna Provenza, a woman who is not a “mental patient” like Marlowe claims.
- Eventually, Jericho finds the card reader and when Evie and the group comes up to visit, he reunites with Evie. His new strength allures her and they temporarily rekindle their romance. But after another dose of the serum, Jericho is wild and assaults Evie. This drives their relationship apart adn while he feels guilty, Evie is horrified and goes away from him. This causes Jericho to focus harder on learning more about Project Buffalo, since Marlowe isn’t giving him more details.
- One day, Marlowe has Jericho go into a sensory deprivation tank so he can communicate with someone in another dimension. He hears that a door needs to open again, but to keep it open and that the soul must be refreshed. Then he hears a different voice, belonging to Sam’s mother Miriam, that warns him to not reveal too much Marlowe and that he needs to escape.
- He ends up finding a special machine in the roof of the Hopeful Harbor estate where he witnesses Sam’s mother Miriam and Anna Provenza being subjected to electrical torture as Marlowe tries to communicate with the man in the stovepipe hat. Miriam keeps warning Marlowe that he is being tricked and to cut off communication. She says that the missing soldiers are also in pain and are inside that machine, but Marlowe doesn’t listen. Jericho escapes the estate after what he’s seen and it’s unknown of where he is by the end of the book.
- Blind Bill Johnson (Diviner, can take life force, African-American, age: 37): We learn in this book that Blind Bill is actually named Guillame Johnson and that he is 37 years old, despite him looking like he’s in his 60’s. He was found by Sister Walker and the government due to the rumors about him. He is strong enough to pull a plow better than an ox and he can ease a pained animal into death. He actually made a bargain withe King of Crows (man in the stovepipe hat) to be free from being a slave, but he became blind and turned old as time went on. Then, the mysterious men in the dark suits get a hold of Guillame and they make him do terrible things. He resents Sister Walker, thinking he was betrayed by her. He has a confrontation with Memphis after Memphis learns that Bill was the cause of Isaiah’s fits. They fight and Bill claims the young man doesn’t know what Bill went through and suffered. Then during their fight, Memphis heals Bill’s blindness. He starts to de-age, seeing again and looking younger like he should. He wants to atone for his sins and starts truly watching over the Campbell boys.
- Theta Knight (real name: Betty Sue Bowers, fire ability, about age 17): This book is mainly Theta’s book and she goes through so much! Her abusive husband Roy has found her after all this time. Betty was abandoned a church step when she was a baby she doesn’t know who her parents were. She was in the Vaudeville scene and endured being leered at, pushed around and unloved. Then Roy came along in Kansas and they get married, but he’s an abusive monster. One night while he’s hitting and raping her, she’s had enough and her fire ability takes over. She escapes in the fire and flees Kansas, coming to NYC and changing her name. But through a few mysterious notes, she knows that Roy has found her. She goes to meet him and Roy tells her that he wants to help take over her rising career and be back in her life again. He threatens to end her career if she doesn’t obey him and she fights to keep Memphis a secret.
- She starts distancing herself from Memphis in order to protect him. She even breaks up him in the book, acting cold and lying about her not being interested anymore. While it hurts her to do this, she’s trying to prevent Roy from finding out about her.
- She learns that Roy ends up working for a gang that rivals Papa Charles when they go to the Hotsy Totsy. Roy is going to eliminate Memphis since he has been healing for Papa Charles. Theta steps in to protect him and even Blind Bill steps in to scare the men off. After Roy and his companion runs off, Theta opens up to him and reveals the reason she broke up with him. Memphis sees the truth and they are back together.
- Theta is temporarily taken under the wing of the Proctor sisters, after she rescues Addie Proctor from the basement and the darkness that was down there. They tell her to embrace her power and allow it to not control her. Theta ends up taking one of the cats home after the sisters were going to sacrifice it. Addie then admits that things should change and in the end, helps Theta to not be afraid of her powers.
- But to get revenge on Theta, Roy reveals her being married and her real past to her boss at the Follies. The Follies threatens Theta to change her lifestyle and not associate with her Diviner friends, which doesn’t go well with Theta. Theta is enraged and goes to kill Roy at his apartment, scaring him with her fire power. But her friends and Memphis intervene and Roy escapes but promises he’ll be back. Theta feels safe having her friends as her family and having Memphis back.
- Jake Marlowe (non-Diviner, Antagonist, mogul, age unknown): Jake Marlowe is a rising mogul, a rich man with ambition. He was formerly friends with Evie’s uncle Will and was apart of Project Buffalo with Will, Sister Walker and Rodka who was his fiance. But then Will and Rodka fell in love and Marlowe was enraged that his girl was stolen and he cut ties with Will and Sister Walker. He had also gotten mixed up in the science of getting rid of inferior human traits. He’s associated with the Founder’s Club, powerful men who support his work. He’s the one who helped Jericho and create the blue serum and he calls Jericho “his greatest creation.” But Marlowe also believes that Diviners are made of “lesser stock” and he wants to purify the serum to create “pure blooded” American Diviners. Marlowe is a heartless man who doesn’t care that he’s keeping Anna and Miriam as hostages. He’s keeping them so they can keep the gate for the King of Crows open. But after the bomb at the exhibition that kills Sara Snow, he is disheveled in his office and hasn’t come out in some time. But when the Eye machine turns on and starts transmitting a message, Marlowe is ready to receive it. This is all we know about him.
- Sam Lloyd (Russian, can go invisible, about age 17): In book 3, Sam is still trying to find out what happened to his mother Miriam. We see in flashbacks that he was at Marlowe’s estate when he was younger, since he was being tested with his powers. But then Miriam disappeared and while people said she’s dead, he got a postcard from her before the first book began. He is very distrustful of Will and Sister Walker, claiming that they know more about his mother than they say they do. But as the Diviners work on their power, he learns that he can go fully invisible and he uses that to his advantage.
- Sam and Evie follow a lead that leads them a man named Moony Runyon, who knew Sam’s ex-government informant who ended up dead in the last book. Moony talks hesitantly about Project Buffalo and that the men in dark suits are secret agents. The project was run by some of the richest men in America and they were creating Diviners from pregnant women. But he does say that some of the babies came out “wrong” due to the experiment. He also tells them that Marlowe is the only person who has the electronic card reader that the Diviners are looking for.
- At the end of the book, the shadow men abduct Sam and are taking him to Marlowe’s estate. That’s all we know of his fate at the end of book 3.
- Ling Chan (half-Chinese, half-Irish, Dream Walker, about age 17): Ling doesn’t have any crucial moments in this book, since book 2 was her central book to grow and come into the Diviners circle. In book 3, as the ghosts are rising and striving to be heard, the dream world is turning its back on Ling for information. She’s not finding anything on her dream walks to help the Diviners. She also meets Alma, an African-American who works at the Hotsy Totsy as a dancer and Alma is immediately smitten with Ling. But we see into Ling’s head and see that physical contact is something that arouses her and she wonders if she’s normal. She likes Alma and there is something between them, but Ling wants to take things slow and also figure things out for her personally.
- Connor Flynn and Luther Clayton (Diviners, Irish and American, exact ages unknown): Connor and Luther are minor Diviners in this book. Connor is a young boy who not only has horrifying visions even if he’s not present to see them happen, but he can also cross between dimensions. He knew about the monsters in the fog before they came to Ward’s Island and drew everything. Connor also hears a women’s voice in his head, who helps tells him how to protect himself against the ghosts. The woman’s voice is Miriam, Sam’s mother who has telepathy. Memphis’s mother, now a crow and held hostage by the King of Crows, tell the Diviners that Connor must be protected. He meets Evie and Sam the first time they come to Ward’s Island and he helps them as much as he can. But the King of Crows ends up taking Connor to his realm. There is a scene where Connor has a vision of the Diviners coming to a crossroads, but he doesn’t know the outcome. When the King of Crows demands answers of Connor’s vision, the boy says nothing. The King of Crows feeds the boy to the dead, sealing his fate.
- Luther Clayton knew Evie’s brother James and even had romantic feelings for him (Evie sees this in a vision). He has premonitions. He is a struggling war vet and meets Evie in book 1 when she sees him on the street and gives him money. Someone in Luther’s head whispers to keep watching for Evie and that she’s important. He is promised that if he shoots Evie, the screaming he hears in his head will stop but his plan is foiled by Sam. He ends up in Ward’s Island where the ghosts inhabit the fog that comes at night. Evie talks to him a couple times, trying to get information and he tell her what he can although he’s afraid. But the King of Crows ends up killing Luther in the asylum before taking Connor.
- Will & Margaret “Sister” Walker (non-Diviners, Caucasian and African-American, estimated in their 30’s but unknown): Will and Sister Walker stick together to find more answers in the series. After they return to the museum from traveling and find the Diviners all together, they try to help train the group of teens and children to strengthen their powers. While they do keep secrets, they are sorry for what they caused years ago. They unknowingly dealt with the King of Crows with their Project Buffalo experiment. Will admits what he knew about James to Evie and their bond is shattered beyond repair. Sister Walker tries to stay close to the Campbell brothers, but Memphis learns more truths and doesn’t trust her anymore. She says that she was trying to round up the Diviners, but the documents were destroyed and mentions someone who can draw the life out of things (Blind Bill). Her first experience with Diviners was when a young girl Lavinia Cooper could see the future and mentions the King of Crows before she dies. This causes Margaret to know that the supernatural is real. She was sent to prison for “sedition” after Project Buffalo was closed, but she knew she was wrongfully put in prison. At the end of book 3, Will and Margaret are gathering whatever files they can find at the museum. The Shadow Men come and during a scuffle, Will is murdered and Margaret is up in the stacks, terrified of what’s happening.
- Memphis & Isaiah Campbell (Diviners, Healer and Clairvoyant, African-American, about ages 17 and 6): Even though Memphis tells his little brother to keep their meetings with Sister Walker a secret, Isaiah eventually tells Blind Bill about their meetings. Bill keeps secretly taking some of the boy’s powers and he temporarily gets his sight back. Isaiah also comes to realize the potential for his powers in book 3; during a heated and emotional scene of the Diviners vs. Sister Walker and Will, the group learns that they can create an energy field. Also while in a dream like state, he sees a girl named Sarah Beth Olson who is like him in Bountiful, Kansas. She tells Isaiah that the King of Crows wants her and Isaiah for their powers and to find “the boy who draws” (Connor). He also has another vision concerning Connor who tells Isaiah to find the Eye.
- While at the Future of America exhibit, Isaiah has a terrifying vision of the bomb that will go off. His words unnerve people, but Memphis convinces a cop to help get the boy out and the cop will investigate what the boy is talking about. His vision comes true and the anarchist bomb goes off, killing Sara Snow and hundreds of others.
- When the Shadow Men come asking for the Campbell brothers in a barber shop that Bill works at, Bill overhears the conversation in the back. Isaiah is with Bill and the older man tells the boy to flee out the back to go warn his aunt and Memphis. Soon Bill will follow him to the house, where Bill tells Octavia that men are after them. The boys go with Bill and go into hiding to avoid the Shadow Men.
- Memphis and Theta’s relationship is on the rocks in book 3 with Theta’s husband Roy back in the picture. Throughout the book, it’s uncertain of whether they’ll get together. (See notes on Theta above for some more info). But they do get back together and all is well for them. But after the boys flee with Bill at the end of book 3, its certain of what happens to their aunt Octavia and none of the Diviners know where the boys are.
- One day at the museum, Memphis, Sam and Jericho are looking for important things relating to Diviners in the museum. They find letters from Cornelius Rathbone who owned the building and gave it to Will, as well as drawings from Liberty Ann, who has been mentioned as a past Diviner. Her drawings are hidden in Cornelius’s Bible and they start looking for it. While they’re looking, they find recordings of Project Buffalo and Blind Bill is mentioned in the recordings.
- Memphis also goes to Madam Seraphina, a prominent gang leader in Harlem who saw his mother before she passed on. Both demand information from one another, not very trusting of each other. Seraphina tells him that his mother made a bargain with the King of Crows that she would be able to watch over them in death and that the Shadow Men wouldn’t find them. But Seraphina doesn’t know what kind of price his mother made for this bargain. She gives him a small leather bag as a matter of protection, as well as keep him connected to his ancestors. Seraphina also is the one who tells him Blind Bill’s true identity and what he was doing to Isaiah, which will cause Memphis to confront Bill and heal his sight during their fight.
- Mabel Rose (non-Diviner, friend of Evie, about age 17): Book 3 also focuses on Mabel as character as she tries to figure out her own voice, after being different from Evie and having activist parents. She feels down on herself and is frustrated with trying to figure out what she wants. But she met Arthur Brown, a young man at the end of book 2 and she meets his friends who are ultimately the Secret Six. While she is drawn to Arthur, she gets caught up in their ideals of taking different measures to get their voices heard. They go to a mine run by Jake Marlowe and they see that men with machine guns watch the workers, workers are being exposed to radioactive rocks and the families are living in poor tent conditions. The Secret Six form a plan to blow up the mine and the store that’s run by Marlowe’s men. But during the plan, they end killing more people than intended and they barely get away.
- When she tells Evie about being in the Secret Six, Evie advises being around them and she had a vision of Arthur being involved in bad business. But Mabel doesn’t believe her and spends more time with Arthur to feel loved and important. Her parents also tell Mabel to stay away from Arthur, since his brother is imprison for destroying a factory and is set to be executed. But again, Mabel doesn’t listen.
- The Secret Six also use a camera to make real footage of how Marlowe makes immigrant workers slave at this mine. They sneak into the reel at the pictures, but people don’t pay attention like they had hoped.
- But as the information comes out about women and children being killed in the mine explosion, Mable starts to have second thoughts about the new plan to assassinate Jake Marlowe at the exhibition by the Secret Six. The plan is still carried out, but Mabel goes to find Arthur and talk him out of having the bomb go off. She learned the truth about Arthur being manipulated to do this plan and some men enter the room and shoot Mabel after she takes an uncertain step out of line. Then one of the men, the agent who was pulling Arthur’s strings, shoots his partner and Arthur is also injured while the bomb is still ticking away. Mabel was shot and the bullet went through her spinal chord and she slowly dies while thinking about her parents. The bomb goes off, killing many people but not Marlowe.
- Mabel is buried weeks after the bomb went off and Evie is devastated about what happened. The whole Secret Six is blasted in the papers, but Evie always remembers people who Mabel was a person and stands up to Ling when Ling says something about Mabel at the funeral. Mabel was a complicated person who ended up being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Lillian & Adelaide Proctor (witches, sisters, age: 80’s): While Adelaide is the more gifted than her sister Lilllian, both still sense the growing presence of the King of Crows. After Theta helps rescue Addie from Elijah in the Bennington’s basement, they start to take more precautions. Addie had made a bargain with the King of Crows for Elijah’s life once, but regrets what she did and can’t undo it. So while the sisters talk to Theta, they tell her that the King of Crows is greedy and only wants power but that she can hold him back with her fire. Then, at the end of the book, Adelaide has a nightmare of being buried alive by the King of Crows.
- The Ghosts/Ward’s Island/King of Crows: The main enemy in book 3 is the undead that are coming as ghosts in the fog at first. They appear in the fog at Ward’s Island and they inhabit many bodies. Two hospital staff members are brutally killed in the beginning of the book, then another nurse dies and Connor Flynn draws the whole thing. As the murders happen on the island, many New Yorkers are also reporting ghost sightings but they aren’t completely taken seriously. The event appears in the papers and the Diviners head out to Ward’s Island to figure out what’s going on. They end up getting stuck in the asylum for the night and the fog rolls in. Henry is separated from the group and ends up wandering the unmarked pauper’s cemetery on the island and watches in terror as the ghosts emerge in the cemetery. The others talk to Connor and find out he’s the one they need to protect. They hide from various hospital staff that are possessed by the dead.
- When they do regroup in the asylum, Theta reveals her power to save them. After that, they decide to talk to the ghosts to see what they want. Many of them are forgotten people who suffered or died and no one remembers them. At first, the ghosts are confused but they start to remember their lives as the Diviners talk to them. Some still want to consume them and want to attack them after the King of Crows pulls the dead back to him. The Diviners combine their powers to create an energy field and they send the dead back to where they came from.
- This causes them to finally meet the man in the stovepipe hat, the King of Crows. He’s been curious about their powers and the group realizes that this situation is a kind of test to see what they’re capable of. He sets them on the quest to quench the dead as they did to the ones on the island and vanishes.
- During a public event, the ghost fog comes rolling into New York City and the people are afraid and start begging the Diviners to make them go away. Memphis tells them that they will be remembered but the ghosts are too angry. Many of their names were stolen from them and some were former slaves who had died. The Diviners have no choice but combine their powers and send the ghosts back, but they know it’s only a matter of time.
- Things quickly unravel at the end of the book. Papa Charles is killed and the Hotsy Totsy burns down. Shadow Men kill Will Fitzgerald and kidnap Sam. We see subject 144, a young Sarah Beth Olsen in Bountiful, Nebraska and she is like Isaiah.
- Miriam, sensing the danger around her, senses a mental SOS to the Diviners to and the dead and they hear her plea.
Full recap article listed here: Book Series Recap: Before the Devil Breaks You
When I listened to this book the first time, I was again a bit disappointed. I felt like the asylum plotline was done too easily, slower pacing and I felt like there wasn’t enough King of Crows. But upon my second listening, I was SO WRONG before! In many times, my second listen felt like the first time and I loved this book way more than I originally did. This book is so creepy, hard hitting, emotional, scary and full of the masterful writing from Libba Bray. We get so much of Theta growing, Mabel evolving, more of Marlowe’s schemes and the Diviners making their powers stronger. I had forgotten SO much of this book, but I loved the ride so much more. My rating from a 3.5-3.75 star to now a 4.5 star! My original review is linked below, but my thoughts have changed since that review:
Book 4 Theories!
I cannot believe that The King of Crows is almost out! While I don’t have a ton of theories for the finale, here are my thoughts on what could happen in the finale:
1. I think that some people are going to die! Libba Bray isn’t afraid to go there. My guesses are that: Blind Bill, Margaret Walker, Henry and maybe even Jericho might die. We don’t know what happened to Jericho when he disappeared from Marlowe’s estate. While he’s not fully human, he’s not invincible. Then, Bill is trying to atone for his sins and I think his death might be a sacrifice like Sister Walker and possibly even Henry.
2. I think Sarah Beth Olsen is NOT to be trusted! This farm girl in Bountiful, Nebraska is only mentioned in book 3 but the synopsis of book 4 tells us that she’ll be more of a central character. But the vibe I’ve gotten from her small POV chapters is that the King of Crows might be controlling her as a trap for the Diviners, or she thinks she’s acting on her own but isn’t. She is the only subject from Project Buffalo that’s still alive so there’s a reason she isn’t dead and it might not be a good one.
3. We haven’t seen the last of Theta’s husband Roy. He might’ve escaped being burned alive by Theta, but Roy will be back. I’m not sure how this plotline will be dealt with, since the Diviners are having the impression to go to Nebraska, but there will be a final confrontation between husband and wife. But I’ll admit that I wouldn’t mind if the dead accidentally kill him lol.
4. We have more to learn about Marlowe. Now that he’s a prominent bad guy, there’s still more to Marlowe. I think the author will give a bit of background about him to develop him a little but then also show how far he’s gone with being corrupted by greed and ambition. I don’t think he will be dealt with by the Diviners directly. Maybe some Diviners or Jericho might end up killing him for revenge. I really hope he dies for all the crap he’s pulled.
5. The Shadow Men aren’t human. I hope we finally learn what’s up with these Shadow Men that have been stalking the Diviners since book one. They’ve murdered innocent people like Will, Papa Charles and other Diviners with piano wires and do it quickly. They’re called Adams and Jefferson, but I don’t think they’re human. They’ve been silent entering rooms and seem to be almost everywhere at once. I really want to get answer about how they’re involved. I think they work for the King of Crows, since one of them reminds Marlowe that they don’t take orders from him.
6. Theta, Isaiah and Memphis BETTER NOT DIE! Not only are Memphis and Theta my OTP couple, they just can’t die. Theta has run away from danger for so long and I don’t want her to die when she’s found her family and true love. Also, Isaiah is just a kid so I hope he lives too. I think the boys are crucial to stopping the King of Crows and that they will reunite temporarily with their mother, but please let them live!
7. The King of Crows could have been human once. The main bad guy told the Diviners when he met them on Ward’s Island that he was born of this country’s sins. He says he’s older than the country, so I wonder if he was a Diviner once. It’s possible he could’ve been alive before America was formerly founded but something horrible happened to make him what he is now? There’s so little about him that we know, but I do wonder if he was like them once.
There we go! Thank you thank you if you have stuck with me this whole, VERY long post. I know this recap is long but there is a lot to unpack and remember in these books. But I hope this was helpful and that you are also ready for The King of Crows. I will be starting the audio book on release day and just dive right in!
Do you have any theories on The Diviners? Who are your favorite characters? Which book is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!