Read a full summary of Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray now! This page is full of spoilers so beware. If you are wondering what happened in Lair of Dreams, then you are in the right place!
Character and other info
Setting – New York 1920’s
Diviners – people with various supernatural abilities
Evie – The sweetheart seer, can read the past from objects
James – Evie’s deceased brother
Will – Evie’s uncle, owner of the “Museum of Creepy Crawlies”
Mabel – Evie’s friend
Memphis – lives in Harlem, has the ability to heal
Isaiah – Memphis’s younger brother, sees the future
Jericho – works at the museum, has a partially mechanical body
Sam – works at the museum, can tell people not to see him and they won’t
Blind Bill – a homeless man that once could kill with a touch, the gift was was stolen from him
Theta – Performer that lives in Evie’s building, has a fire ability
Henry – Theta’s roommate and coworker, can walk in dreams
Sister Walker – works with Will to find Diviners
Ms. Proctor – an elderly lady who lives in Will’s building, can feel the changes in the spirits
Ling – dream walker
Wai-Mae – dream walker traveling from China to NYC
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in Lair of Dreams?
Workers digging tunnels for the NYC subway system find a music box and a skeleton. Later a wind carrying the sound of crying on it passes by the men as they work. That night those men dream of the music box and its song and are lost to their dreams. They never wake up, develop blisters, and eventually die. Their illness becomes known as the sleeping sickness, and it is spreading in select neighborhoods (mostly Chinatown).
Ling Chan, crippled due to infantile paralysis, works at her father’s restaurant with George. Ling is a Diviner and can converse with the dead in her dreams if she has an object of theirs.
Evie is now a fairly popular radio personality known as the Sweetheart Seer. She divines for people by reading their objects that they bring to the station. She loves the attention. She throws lavish parties and is evicted from her third hotel.
Henry walks in dreams, searching for Louis. He sees Ling Chan in one of them and goes to find her in real life. Ling agrees to help him try to find Louis, and they plan to meet up in a dream that night.
George succumbs to the sleeping sickness. At first, the dreams are enjoyable, but then they take on a nightmarish feel. It’s as if the dreams have a mind of their own. The dream asks him to promise. Finally, he does. After, no one can wake him.
The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult has fallen on hard times again. Sam is trying to find a way to keep it open. He doesn’t want it to become repossessed until he has had a chance to search for anything on the Buffalo Project of which his missing mother was a part.
Will and Evie are on the outs. Will leaves town with Sister Walker for a while, to search for Diviners and information about the man in the stovepipe hat. He leaves Jericho and Sam to run the museum.
Jericho is still infatuated with Evie who continually blows him off after their kiss at the end of book one. But Evie misses him as well but won’t come out and say it.
Two unknown men are watching Sam.
Blind Bill now lives with Memphis and Isiah. Memphis doesn’t know that it was Bill that stole his power and made Isiah sick. Memphis healed Isiah, and now Bill is trying to find out if it was Memphis that did it so that he can take his power instead.
Henry finally finds Louis in a dream with Ling’s help. They seem to be stronger when they are together. Every time they enter the dream world, they see a ghostly veiled woman who runs by screaming “murder.” She runs underground, and Ling and Henry follow, always ending up on a train that takes them to a beautiful dream world. In this world, Ling meets another dream walker, Wai-Mae. In the real world, Wai-Mae is on a ship on her way to America to get married. This girl shows Ling that she can change a dream. They agree to meet again so she can teach Ling.
Ms. Proctor, one of the old ladies who live in Will’s building, continues to perform rituals that she believes will keep the dead away.
Sam tells a reporter as a joke that he and Evie are engaged. Evie’s producer loves the idea, and Evie is afraid she will lose her job if they don’t play along for a while. Sam agrees to go along if Evie helps him as he researches the Buffalo Project. Evie and Sam don’t tell anyone that it’s not really true. Jericho is devastated but still has to work with Sam.
Sam and Jericho open the old cellar of the museum and find crates of things that they search through for something to use in their new Diviners exhibit. They find letters between Will and his deceased fiancé, and proof that the museum was given to Will by Cornelius Rathbone (though Will always said he bought it). They also find further prophesy from Liberty Anne Rathbone. But most interesting to Sam is an empty envelope addressed to his mother, Miriam Lubovitch which was returned to sender.
Ling, using an object of George’s, finds him in the dream world. George desperately tells her to wake up, and she does. After Ling’s encounter with George, he dies, throwing more of the city into quarantine. Henry asks Louis to come to New York and so when he wakes he buys him a train ticket and mails it. Wai-Mae warns them that there are ghosts in the train tunnels of their dreamscape and to stay away.
Jericho discovers that Diviners emit more radiation than the average person and that they disrupt electromagnetic fields. He also finds an old device that is supposed to detect that sort of thing. There were also letters telling of Will and his friend’s quest to find more Diviners. They even accepted donations from a white supremacy group called the Founders Club. Will was in love with the fiancé of one of his colleagues.
Memphis and Theta continue to see each other, but Theta is finding it difficult to hide her fire ability because it comes on her at unexpected times.
Sam visits a lead about his mother that turns out to be a woman his parents knew very well. The government found out that Sam’s mother was gifted and all seemed fine for a while until they came around asking about Sam. Their little family had disappeared after that. The woman gives Sam a box of things, including a photo and a file, that his mother had asked her to hide years ago.
Sam and Evie are starting to become interested in each other through all of their fabricated romance.
Blind Bill steals more of Isiah’s power and tries to get the boy to tell him the numbers that will make him a winner. Isiah says the same numbers that he said before: 1, 4, 4. Afterward, Isaiah asks about someone named Guillaume.
Ling researches and learns about an underground railway that was started and then construction stopped about 50 years ago. This was before the current subways were being built. She realizes that this is the train station that she and the other dream walkers go to each night.
Strange creatures are in the tunnels under New York City, both in the dream world and the real world. People are disappearing. Many of the people who have fallen to the sleeping sickness have seen the veiled ghost woman.
Memphis impulsively heals an injured man, and while he is in his healing state, he sees the gray man in the stovepipe hat. Later that healed man announces that an angel healed him and Blind Bill hints to Memphis that he knows it is him.
Theta and Henry’s relationship continues to suffer as Henry spends too much time in the dream world and can’t stay awake or concentrate when he is awake, especially at rehearsal.
Will finds more and more reports of the ghostly gray man in the stovepipe hat.
Sam and Evie follow a lead at a post office and find that it was once the office of the US Department of Paranormal. They find cards that need code readers that are referring to people across the country (Subject #144 is the highest number found—the same number that Isaiah dreams about). While searching Sam and Evie have to hide from two men in dark suits.
Memphis is forced to heal a friend of his boss. He enters the dream world, and the veiled ghost woman recognizes his power and tries to lure him. Luckily he escapes and actually does succeed in healing his boss’s friend.
Mabel and Jericho have an awkward but successful date. Evie is jealous.
We learn that the old lady, Ms. Proctor, once loved a boy named Elijah. He went off to war and was killed. She performed a ritual to be able to speak to him again. Later as she lay dying of fever, she meets the gray man with the tall hat in a dream. She makes a bargain with him to be able to see Elijah again someday, and in exchange, she belongs to him, and he would come calling some day. When Elijah later visited, he was not happy to be bound to her. He could not rest until she did. Ms. Proctor performed another spell to bind him so that he could not torment her. Now she sees that the man is getting stronger and he would come soon.
Henry sees the veiled ghost woman in one of this dream walks. She asks him to dream with her just before his alarm goes off.
Ling believes that the veiled ghost woman has unfinished business in the long-forgotten subway tunnel.
Evie uses her gift to read the photograph of Sam and his mom. Sam, as a boy, is tested to see if he is a diviner. He seems not to be. The government attempts to recruit his mother as a Diviner for Project Buffalo. She says it will draw bad spirits. Evie’s uncle Will and his fiancé are there, but Evie keeps this information from Sam.
Evie dreams of her home town. It is a good dream, and her parents love her, and her brother is alive. Once she realizes that the dream is off somehow, the veiled woman appears to her. Her brother instructs her to wake up before anything happens. She does.
A great inventor and scientist, Jake Marlowe visits New York City. Ling is a big fan, and he gives her two tickets to his Future of America Exhibition. This happens to be the same man from whom Jericho gets his blue serum that keeps him sane and alive. Marlow holds Jericho’s serum hostage until Jericho agrees to go work with him so that they can study him.
Blind Bill takes more of Isiah’s power and sends him into a comatose state again. Bill hopes that Memphis will heal him again and then Bill can steal that power too. But this time Isiah wakes up on his own.
Theta tells Evie that Henry is a dream walker and says that she is worried about him. They agree to go to a psychologist that specializes in dreams to try to find help for Henry. They learn that every person has a shadow self.
Henry finds out from Ms. Proctor where the original railway used to be. They learn that there was a murder there many years ago. A veiled girl who worked in a brothel. The old woman believes they are all connected to the man in the stovepipe hat.
Ling believes that Wai Mae’s matchmaking company might be lying and tries to warn her, but she won’t listen. Later, Ling learns that the company was disbanded 50 years ago because the owner was murdered by a veiled woman that was once purchased from China.
The man with the stovepipe hat tricks Ms. Proctor into breaking the spell that was binding Elijah.
As Evie and Sam are interviewed, a soldier tries to shoot Evie. Sam uses his gift to confuse the gunman letting everyone know that he is also a Diviner. They kiss.
Henry and Ling discover that the tunnel is filled with other people’s dreams. They narrowly escape the veiled lady, and Ling carries a burn to the real world that she got in the dream world.
The shadow men in their dark suits, drive across the country trying to kill out the diviners. They talk to someone named Mr. Hamilton who will confer with an Oracle.
Louis does not show up on the train in New York as Henry had expected, so he returns to the dream world to confront him.
A man brings Evie a comb to read during her radio show. It turns out that the comb belonged to her brother, and the man only says that men in dark suits paid him to take it to her. In her vision, Evie sees her brother James as well as the soldier that tried to shoot her. Evie leaves the station a mess and her show that evening is ruined.
Ling’s uncle tells her that to get rid of a ghost, you can put a pearl in the corpse’s mouth. Ling realizes that Wai-Mae is the veiled ghost woman…or rather, it is her shadow-self trying to forget her past.
Wai-Mae tricks Henry into promising to dream with her in exchange for going to Louis. After that, Theta and Memphis find Henry in the real world, and he now has the sleeping sickness and cannot wake up. They go, taking Henry with them, to the museum to meet up with everyone else. Even Ling shows up looking for Henry to warn him, but it is too late. Memphis confesses that he is a healer.
They put it together that the creatures in the subway are the remnants of the people that Wai-Mae has killed with the sleeping sickness. Somehow they can travel back and forth between the real world and their dream state. They are never satisfied and so continue to kill people for their energy.
Ling decides to attempt to go back into the dream world to save Henry. When she gets there, she tries to persuade Wai-Mae to let Henry go, but she only succeeds in agitating her and causing her to become the veiled lady.
Back in the real world, the others cannot wake Ling or Henry. Memphis, Theta, Evie, and Sam set out to enter the subways where they believe Wai-Mae was killed many years before. Jericho and Mabel are left to watch over Ling and Henry as they sleep.
How does Lair of Dreams end?
The group in the underground finds the old abandoned railway station and bones of a woman within. Evie reads the bones with her magical touch. She learns that Wai-Mae did indeed travel to America on a ship believing she was to meet her new husband. When she arrived, she was shipped off to a brothel where she lived out her miserable existence and also became an opium addict. When the chance arose, she killed the man that ran the brothel. Afterward, she hid in a subway car. She was sleeping when they bricked up the abandoned train station. She had been buried alive. They retrieved her bones to take her for burial, hoping to put her to rest. The group was split up and only narrowly escape the dream creatures as they left the subway. Memphis and Evie escape easily because the creatures sense something different about Memphis. Theta is forced to use her fire magic, but only Sam sees.
At the same time, in the dream world, Louis recalls how he came to be in the dream world. Henry’s disapproving father had sent men to rough up Louis, but they had accidentally killed him. Louis has been dead for a long time. He tells Henry it’s time to go, time to wake up. But first Henry finds Ling. Ling shoves a pearl into a crazed Wai-Mae’s mouth at the exact same time that the other group buries her bones in the graveyard of Trinity Church (which Ling later says is bad luck). Wai-Mae is finally put to rest.
Sam and Evie tell everyone about the files they found at the post office. They belonged to a secret government division started by Roosevelt called the US Department of Paranormal. They were to investigate supernatural phenomena and recruit Diviners to aid in the interest of national security. Each of them that is a Diviner believes that lately, their powers have grown stronger.
Will and Sister Walker return from their travels.
Jericho’s strength and stamina are increasing. He uses his last dose of the blue serum that Marlowe gave him.
Theta receives a note leading her to believe that someone from her past has found her at last.
The gray man in the stovepipe hat, the King of Crows, still lurks over the nation.
A shadow man is holding Sam’s mother, Miriam, hostage. They torture her to get her to tell them where the Diviners are. They tell her that they know where Sam is. She only hopes that he will find her before it is too late for them all.
There you go! That’s what happened in Lair of Dreams. We hope you enjoyed this recap of Lair of Dreams with spoilers.
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