Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray

The basics

Title: Before the Devil Breaks You


Series: The Diviners #3

- The Diviners (2012)
- Lair of Dreams (2015)
- Before the Devil Breaks You (2017)
- The King of Crows (2020)

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Goodreads Summary:

After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough 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 face-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.

Read a full summary of Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray below. If you can’t remember what happened in Before the Devil Breaks You and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

What happened in Before the Devil Breaks You?

  • The dead arrive on Wards Island, which is where an asylum is situated.
  • A voice tells Connor to bear witness as two workers are killed.
  • The Diviners group have been meeting to train their powers in order to prepare for the war. Theta is still hesitant to use her powers, as she still wants to keep them a secret.
  • Theta receives a note accusing her of leaving “him for dead”.
  • Sam and Evie continue to work together to find information on Sam’s missing mother. They suspect that Will and Sister Walker are keeping secrets.
  • Isaiah shares way too much with Bill. He tells him that Sister Walker has been seeing them. Bill takes some of Isaiah’s powers, and regains his sight.
  • Marlow says he’s going to cut off Jericho’s supply of blue serum unless he goes to his exhibition.
  • A woman called Maria asks Mabel to help her find her sister. She says the men that took her were wearing the Diviners’ symbol.
  • Mabel attends a Secret Six meeting with Arthur and is paranoid about being watched.
  • Evie is in a bit of a radio rivalry with Sara Snow, who listeners currently prefer. Evie plans on meeting with Luther, who is currently incarcerated on the island, so she can forgive him on air.
  • Sam discovers a new ability: turning invisible.
  • Evie thinks James is trying to contact her from the afterlife.
  • Will has been using an EMF meter that Marlow invented to check for paranormal activity.
  • Sister Walker tells the group more about the Buffalo Project, and how she was a part of testing the Diviners before the war. She tells them there was a man who could kill things using his powers, and he vanished. Yay.
  • Evie and Jericho get together, which upsets Mabel massively. She continues to see Arthur at the Secret Six meetings.
  • Luther mentions 144.
  • The dead kill a nurse in the asylum.
  • Theta is hired as an actress.
  • The Secret Six show a video of the labour camps, but it fails to draw the attention of the press. Marlow has his men beat up people at the camps, which he is heavily involved in for the uranium.
  • Arthur plans to blow up the mines.
  • The group look for Ann’s drawings and Cornelius’ bible in the cellar. Instead, they find recordings of Bill as a young man being put through government experiments as part of Project Buffalo.
  • Moony tells Sam and Evie about the Shadow Men, and how Project Buffalo was funded by a bunch of rich people.
  • The government tried to make Diviners themselves, but it didn’t always work.
  • Charles makes Memphis heal a gang member.
  • A ghost (Mr Bennington) tells Theta that Ms Proctor needs her help. Theta saves Ms Proctor from Elijah, and Ms Proctor tells her not to be afraid of her powers.
  • Will and Sister Walker tell the group about Project Buffalo and how they were targeting pregnant women and trying to make Diviners out of the babies. Isaiah was one of these babies.
  • Evie finds out that her brother James was subject zero, and her mother later took the tonic while pregnant with her.
  • The project was shut down after testing the formula on 144 people.
  • The Diviners learn that they have the power to form an energy field. While doing this, Isaiah learns that he has clairvoyant powers, as he’s able to see into the afterlife.
  • In one of his visions, a girl tells Isaiah that the King of Crows is after the Diviners. She says the group needs to find the “boy who draws” (clearly, they mean Conner).
  • Isaiah’s mother visits him in ghost form, and tells him to follow the Eye and to protect Conner.
  • Sister Walker recalls how a Diviner once told her that she must not let the King of Crows in when he tries to make them love him.
  • Sam and Evie seek out Luther, who tells them how to find James, Evie’s brother. Apparently he’s with the Eye.
  • Evie is struck by a vision of Theta’s village burning and her family dying.
  • Theta finds out who wrote her the note – it’s Roy, her husband, who was thought to have died in a fire. He wants them to get back together.
  • Jericho plans to go to Marlow’s estate to spy on Marlow.
  • Marlow has Jericho tested, but doesn’t let anything about Project Buffalo slip.
  • Jericho searches the estate, and comes across Anna Provenza.
  • It’s revealed that Will and Marlow fell out after Marlow essentially turned into a Nazi, and Marlow’s girlfriend fell for Will.
  • The Diviners head to Wards Island and are trapped there overnight by a storm. They come across Conner, who tells them there’s a woman called Miriam kept underground.
  • Evie sees Luther again, and it’s revealed that he knew James. Luther once refused to join Marlow’s experiment, while the others involved breach the dimensions and were sucked through to be with the King of Crows.
  • The fog and the dead arrive again.
  • Theta saves the group from the possessed staff, and now everyone knows about her fire powers.
  • The King of Crows stops the dead from speaking to the Diviners. He enters the forcefield, and says he wanted to know what the Diviners’ abilities were. He kills Luther, and takes Conner back with him.
  • It’s revealed that Will and Sister Walker knew what had happened to James as they were involved originally. The Diviners leave them behind as clearly they can’t be trusted.
  • Theta and Memphis break up.
  • Bill thinks about how Sister Walker betrayed him, and how he had to make a deal with the King of Crows. He tries to take more of Isaiah’s powers, but the King of Crows stops him and threatens him.
  • Memphis learns that his mother also made a deal with the King of Crows (why do people do this?!) for him to protect her son. He learns that his mother is now living in crow form and is watching over him.
  • Memphis learns that Bill is leeching power from Isaiah and he fights him. Memphis heals Bill and gives him his eyesight back.
  • Conner tells Isaiah to find the Eye, and draws something for him to help out.
  • Marlow allows Jericho to invite Evie and Ling to the estate.
  • Mabel confides in Evie and tells her all about the Secret Six and Arthur. Evie gets into a fight with Mabel after she reads something of Arthur’s, as Evie thinks Arthur is dodgy.
  • Henry enters the dream world and enters James’ head. This leads everyone to believe that James is alive.
  • Evie fights Elijah off.
  • Jericho is put into a sensory deprivation tank to try to reach the other dimension. Jericho hears a woman’s voice talking about souls being refreshed, and about how he shouldn’t speak to Marlow any more. It’s Miriam. She tells him to stop Marlow.
  • The group arrives at Marlow’s estate. Sam thinks he can feel his mother there.
  • Marlow gives Jericho a butt tonne of serum, and Jericho assaults Evie when he’s high.
  • Marlow tells Jericho that he’s trying to purify the serum and off the Diviners.
  • Jericho promises to find Anna Provenza.
  • Jericho comes across a machine that is called the Eye. He has to hide when Marlow enters the room. Marlow uses Anna and Miriam to open the doorway into the other dimension.
  • Roy takes Theta to the Hotsy Totsy. Roy goes to kill Memphis, but Theta protects him. Theta and Memphis get back together.
  • The Secret Six blows up Marlow’s mine, and so Marlow’s people destroy one of the labour camps.
  • Sara Snow and Marlow discredit Evie and her group.
  • Ghosts of former slaves arrive in the city and the people ask the Diviners for help.
  • The ghosts tell the group that Marlow is building a second Eye that will keep the two dimensions permanently linked, and will allow the King of Crows to cross over whenever he likes.
  • Theta tries to kill Roy because he causes her to lose her job. Unfortunately she doesn’t manage it.
  • The Shadow Men abduct Sam and take him to Marlow’s estate.
  • The Secret Six plan to blow up the exhibition, and Mabel tries to stop them. She learns that Arthur is, in fact, hella dodgy, and he was a double agent planning to hand over the group.
  • Theta starts a fire, allowing people to escape the exhibition.
  • The device goes off, killing Arthur, Mabel, Sara, and several others.
  • Evie quits her job when she is asked to sign something that says she’s not affiliated with the Secret Six.
  • Memphis and Isaiah run from Shadow Men and hide in the museum. They enter the tunnels and escape.
  • Shadow Men arrive at the museum and kill Will as he’s trying to escape. Sister Walker overhears them talking about blaming the murder on the Diviners.
  • Marlow’s Shadow Men tell Miriam that her son will be with her soon. Miriam warns the Diviners using her telepathy.
  • We meet someone called Sarah Beth, who lives on 144 Benedict Road, who envisions the Diviners coming and ghosts on the road.
  • Conner has a vision about two paths for the Diviners, but he doesn’t know which road they’ll take. The King of Crows asks what he sees, but Conner won’t tell him. The King of Crows has Conner killed and the dead feed on his energy.
  • The Eye switches on, and the message says “I’m ready. The time is now.”

This is a full plot summary of what happened in Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

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