Evie O'Neill is a flapper in the year 1926, who just happens to have the ability to hold objects and find out the secrets of the people who own them. When one such "reading" goes awry, Evie finds herself shipped from her home in Ohio to the bustling streets of New York City to stay with her uncle in his occult museum. It's meant to be a punishment, but Evie couldn't be more ecstatic. In New York she meets a diverse cast of characters, many of whom may or may not have their own secret abilities. Evie is eager to spend some time running around the city and going to parties, but instead finds herself drawn into a murder investigation her uncle's been asked to assist with- after all, her power allows her to see what the victims were up to just before they were killed. However, the occult forces behind the murders aren't too happy about her interference.
Best part of story, including ending:
The book really does bring the 1920's to life, New York City is a character by itself, and everything is well researched to the point that it's almost possible to believe that all this supernatural stuff was happening in NYC in 1926. It's a fairly long book, but the pace is quick enough that it's a very fast read, and the plot is clean and straightforward enough to follow. That being said, the book hops from scene to scene and character to character so fast that is feels as though certain aspects weren't developed fully enough (although the sequel coming out soon will probably resolve some of the loose ends). The third person narrative also doesn't really aid the development of the characters as much as I'd hope- the chapters of an African American numbers runner seem like they should feel more different from those of a psychic flapper. Essentially, that third person narrative keeps the narrative cohesive, but makes it a little less dynamic. That being said, of course, all of the characters are very diverse and interesting, and Bray is very good about presenting their back stories in bits and pieces that keep the narrative flowing without pausing for pages of info dump.
Best scene in story:
The climax was actually extremely well done- I don't want to spoil too much, but the scene of Evie in this haunted house trying to find the spell to banish this evil spirit is actually the perfect culmination of all of the clues and pieces that have been building up towards solving this murder mystery. It's a really great confrontation, and the sacrifice Evie has to make to fix everything is very tragic and well presented.
Opinion about the main character:
Evie is a great example of making a character whose more likeable traits can also be part of what makes them flawed. For instance, she's really fun and sweet, but at times that can lead to her making bad decisions and being a bit of a lush. She has a complicated relationship to the death of her brother several years ago, and while she's never whiny or over dramatic about it, we do see how much it still affects her. She's wonderfully complex, and her motivations are fully explored. She's not perfect, and there are definitely moments where she'll frustrate the reader, but she reads as an actual person rather than a flat female heroine.