At the start of the new novel, Divah, Seventeen year-old Itzy Nash is set to begrudgingly spend the entire summer at the exclusive Carlyle Hotel in New York City. Left with her incredibly strict Aunt, Itzy is less than excited to be held in a hotel and would prefer to spend her time with her father. When she arrives, she is greeted by the very attractive Luc at Grand Central Station. Itzy discovers her Aunt is missing and that she is to be left in the care of a governess. She plans to practice her photography skills and keep as low key as possible, but is bitten by the dog of one of the wealthiest residents of the hotel. Itzy soon finds herself out of the good graces of nearly everyone. After some exploring with one of the hotel employees, Itzy discovers that the Carlyle has been frequented by some of the most famous names in history and that they have a secret. Folks like Marilyn Monroe and other famous movie stars are demon hunters, and they’ve been preventing the rise of the next Demon Queen, or Divah. Luc, the staff, her family, her governess, and even the locals are not what they seem. Itzy must figure out who to trust and what makes her so special to the Divah attempting to rise in New York City.
Divah‘s start made me roll my eyes like I was diving into a copy of Twilight. The descriptions were somewhat predictable and I found myself repeating that it was a Young Adult book and common themes get repeated. That was until Susannah Appelbaum introduced some rather unpredictable characters. It wasn’t the late great Marilyn Monroe that caught my attention, but rather a team of demon hunting actresses in league with angels. The middle of the book focuses on the story of Luc, and with that, the French Revolution. I found myself reading much more quickly after that and with great attention. In the end, the book combines some well-known YA paranormal tropes with a story that is way more interesting; predictable YA this is not.
While Luc grows to be an interesting character, it’s the combination of Hermes scarves, the guillotine, Botox, and demons that make this book a page turner. Oh yeah, you read that right; Botox is like candy to demons. Hermes scarves are a weapon against them. Movie stars are your greatest allies and the best weapon you can get is the guillotine blade that took off Marie Antoinette’s head, as she was the flesh body of the last Divah.
Divah grew on me quickly and when it was done, I desperately wanted more. There were a few characters I’d love to have seen more of, including Ava and another actress that sounded suspiciously like an alternate version of Angelina Jolie.
Divah by Susannah Appelbaum is now available from Sky Pony Press and should be read immediately.