Review of Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

I had grand reading plans for October, but it seems I’ve been caught up in the Libba Bray hype as after re-reading The Diviners last week I jumped straight into Lair of Dreams.

Title: Lair of Dreams

Author: Libba Bray

Publisher: Atom

Page count: 613

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fic

Average Goodreads rating: 4.13

My star rating: 5

Like last time, I read this whilst listening to the audiobook so I didn’t miss any details and I would totally recommend it. The narrator January LaVoy is fantastic – she creates unique voices for each of the many characters and does the creepy whispers perfectly.

New York, New York!

One of my favourite things about The Diviners was the lush world-building and the recreation of the classic twenties atmosphere and this sequel did not disappoint. Lair of Dreams continues to explore the bizarro world of New York in 1927. We see speakeasies, flappers dancing on stage at the Follies and the antagonism between the young and the stern religious older generations. Bray also re-focuses the story to look closer at the unsavoury elements of the time including the tensions around race, sexuality, class and gender.

In Lair of Dreams, Bray also explores the literal underworld of New York City – in particular the abandoned train tunnels and forgotten stations that lurk under the lights and glamour of Manhattan. I love when authors do this! It’s so cool to see the juxtaposition of two different worlds and Bray does a brilliant job of using this to build on the creepy atmosphere. Another great example of this is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.

America’s Sweetheart Seer

Another fantastic part of Lair of Dreams is that the author continues to develop the gang of characters and their relationships with each other whilst seamlessly introducing a few new names to the scene. The representation grows and the complexity of the characters becomes more and more apparent too.

It’s also great that Bray is shifting the focus of characters in each book so that you get lots of time with each of them. I think my new favourite is Henry (chef’s kiss) with Ling as a close second. I think it’s a sign of brilliant writing that in just over 600 pages the author moves each of their plotlines forward without it feeling like one chapter is for Evie, one is for Jericho etc. It feels seamless and masterful.

Spin me a yarn, darlin’

I really didn’t know what to expect of the plot going in to this one as I hadn’t read or seen any reviews of it so I was pleased to find out it’s another murder mystery. In this instance New Yorkers are falling ill with the ‘sleeping sickness’ – a sickness that causes its victims to fall into an unshakeable sleep until they die. (Similar plot line in The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker).

As with book one, the Diviners & Co are pulled into the centre of the story as they try to figure out what is happening. However, an important difference here is that unlike book one, not all of them are investigating the sickness – instead a few of the characters are very close to it whilst the others are busy with their lives and other Diviner-related drama. As a result, it does take longer for them all to come together but when they do it’s as badass as you expect it to be.

In true Libba Bray style, the antagonist is surprising and super creepy – humanlike monsters in dark tunnels anyone? I think the worst part is the creepy whispers that are made even worse by the audiobook narrator.

In my opinion the plot of book two is more developed and integrated than book one which is why my rating is higher – it felt fully realised and more like an adult book.

I thought you should know, old boy

Something worth noting for Lair of Dreams is that there is more exploration of the darker side of twenties America including homophobia, xenophobia and racism. Other trigger warnings include, death, death of a loved one, ableism, sex trafficking along with a few others.

These are necessary topics to cover to portray a realistic interpretation of the time and to do the plot justice but be careful if you’re sensitive to any of them. As with The Diviners, the Authors Note and Acknowledgements re-affirms that the author did extraneous research and seems to have hired a team to help her get it right which is reassuring. 

Overall, I loved this book. It took The Diviners to the next level in a way I wasn’t expecting. The world feels even more real and the atmosphere is even darker and creepier plus all of the characters old and new are more developed and fantastically realised. There’s also a lot of foreshadowing for the bigger narrative arc across the quartet which I’ve been keeping track of. I cannot wait for Before the Devil Breaks You to learn even more and know these guys even better.

Have you read Lair of Dreams yet?

3 thoughts on “Review of Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

  1. The Diviners has been on my TBR for so long. It sounds right up my alley especially with it taking part during the 20s. I always hear really good things about the series and am not sure why I haven’t picked it up yet. I do hope to start the series next year,

    Liked by 1 person

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