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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Eloise meets Rosemary's Baby in New York City’s very own Carlyle hotel. Seventeen-year-old Itzy Nash is spending the summer at the exclusive Carlyle hotel in New York City. But the hotel harbors more than the rich and privileged; it is host to a gorgeous fallen angel, reclusive movie stars, and—Itzy soon learns—demons of the worst sort. When the Queen of the Damned checks in, all Hell breaks loose. Itzy is called upon to save herself—and all of humanity—from the ravages of the Underworld. There’s only one problem: Itzy’s possessed. Part gothic thriller, part historical fiction, the novel straddles the Upper East Side and the lush trappings of the Carlyle hotel, and Paris during the Reign of Terror in 1789. Marie Antoinette is the Queen of the Damned. Marilyn Monroe is an expert demon hunter. To kill a demon, Hermès scarves, Evian water, and a guillotine are the weapons of choice. For anyone who loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone, this has an epic battle between angels and demo…


by Susannah Appelbaum

Overall Book Review:

Frighteningly fun and oh so fashionable, young adult author Susannah Appelbaum’s latest novel Divah, really slays. Mixing historical fiction in a contemporary setting (well, as contemporary as 1998 can be), she forms a fellowship of unpredictable events. Imagine that Tim Burton got his hands on Eloise, and it might look something like Divah – ghoulishly affright with subjective humor to sway the mood.

Divided into three sections, readers are first introduced, in third person, to protagonist Itzy, a teen shuttled for the summer to her aunt’s residence at the Carlyle Hotel. Things start to become weird on the train ride and steadily escalate once she arrives at the hotel. While running off screaming never to return would have made short work of Appelbaum’s novel, it is just a bit strange that Itzy isn’t a bit more “put off” by all the weirdness. The second half branches off into first person as a secondary character, Luc, tells his story. It is then back to third person for the concluding events. Like a song that loses its beat and then tries to regain its rhythm, these divisions don’t flow as seamlessly as the author probably intended. Although the progression can be a bit confusing, it will become apparent why the author reveals certain aspects of the plot when she does, as it’s all about the mystery.

Then there is the cover. Yes, one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I’m only judging it after having read the novel. Appelbaum uses such charming words and her world building paints such a philosophical picture that it’s remiss that the cover couldn’t do a better job of capturing that scene.

For those who have grown tired of all the vampires and werewolves but still want some supernatural thrill, you’ve come to the right place. Fallen angels, devilish beings, and demon slayers make up the bulk of this phantasmal satire.

Oh là là, love is in the air as well as fire and brimstone as Divah singes with dark humor and high fashion hauntings.

Though Divah has more of a comedic banter, it still may interest those who enjoy Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bones, and Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Sky Pony Press

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  3 religious exclamations; 9 mild obscenities; 2 anatomical terms. Note: the words “damn(ed) and hell are used several times throughout the novel, but not as obscenities. Characters are said to be cursing in a different language a few times.

Violence/Gore: Beheading and execution of character mentioned a few times; character cares for and examines animal bite (2x); secondhand report of violent deaths during previous time period; secondhand report of death; witness of creepy violent death, recollection of blood; crowd throws objects at character; witness of a decapitated dead body; character charges at another character, character is hit; implication that character and baby with be beheaded; character sees bodies hanging by ropes; brief explosion; extended scene (about 4 pages) characters attack with weapons, blood and injury mentioned, non-detailed violent death; character sees heads atop of spikes; character sees someone on fire; character is bitten; secondhand report of death; character finds the deceased remains of a family member; implication that character died while fighting; extended scene (about 2 pages) supernatural creatures fight and kill, mild blood and gore; extended scene (about 1 page) character fights off and kills supernatural attacker; brief report of blood and injury; non-detailed brief memory of violence; extended scene (about 2 pages) violent chaos ensues as supernatural creatures and humans fight; character is grabbed by the throat by a creepy supernatural creature; extended scene (about 1 page) characters are attacked by burning supernatural creatures, character believes they witness the death of their friend; character uses supernatural power to push away another character forcefully; extended scene (about 6 pages) supernaturals fight one another, mentions of blood and threat; extended scene (about 2 pages) supernatural fight against two characters who battle one another; brief depiction of severed head implying decapitation took place; character assesses his/her injuries.

Sex/Nudity: Kiss + hand holding; character admits to having a date; implication that character is romantic with another character; mention of baby being naked; about 2x the word “laying” is used to imply sexual relations; male character comments on female characters large chest; report of extra marital affair; character is described as a man stealer/seductress; male and female character lay in bed together cuddling; female character accidentally sees a male character nude; characters hug; characters are said the be all over each other; male character pins female against the wall and scrapes their skin in a sexual manner; characters embrace; mentions of famous actress having romantic rendezvous with a President. 

Mature Subject Matter:

Demonic possession, war, death, abandonment by parent, death of a family member.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

A few mentions of adults drinking various types of alcoholic beverages throughout the novel; adult character is portrayed as intoxicated; joke is made about the use of opium; underage teen(s) attend party at a bar.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I appreciate books of all genres, but my main squeeze is fiction. Depending on my mood it could be romance or suspense; lately I’ve been courting fantasy. When I don’t have my nose in a book, I am locating tasty paleo recipes, writing in-coherent poetry, and crafting with paper.