These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: October 26, 2016
Genre: YA Historical fiction
Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon like all the girls in her class she ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo dreams of becoming a writer a newspaper reporter.
Wild aspirations aside, Jo s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. The story is that Charles Montfort shot himself while cleaning his revolver, but the more Jo hears about her father s death, the more something feels wrong. And then she meets Eddie a young, smart, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father s newspaper and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. But now it might be too late to stop.
The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and this time the truth is the dirtiest part of all.
Wow, this was so unexpectedly good!! I’m not normally a fan of mysteries; I’ve only read a few, and disliked most of them. I ended up LOVING this one though!
I’m going to try formatting this review a bit differently today. I’m getting bored of my old way, and I wanted to try something new! I might change back, who knows.
7 Things About These Shallow Graves
1) The main character, Jo, is one of the best heroines I’ve ever encountered. She’s kind, and brave, and so much fun. I really like how she develops; her world, upper class late 19th century New York is a very restrictive place, especially for women. Slowly, she starts to ask questions, and realize that maybe she could be more than everyone expects her to be. Jo felt realistic to her time, though; not like some other “feminist” heroines from historical fiction. She starts out with a mindset that is shaped by her era, and acts the way someone in her situation would. That’s why her character development is so powerful.
2) There is a swoony news reporter for a love interest. His name is Eddie, and like Jo says when she first sees him, “he was glorious.” I quite agree, Jo. He and Jo are perfect together, and the romance is the best. There is a sort-of love triangle, but it’s not really a love triangle, and it’s definitely not stupid like so many are. It’s so much fun. 3) The setting is fantastic. This book shows so many different sides of New York, and describes them all so vividly!! I felt like I’d been transported back into that time and place. There was so much detail given, and the characters all felt so realistic for there time! This setting was definitely one of my favorite parts of the book.
4) There are some compelling underlying messages. Mainly about family and society. You’ve all probably guessed by now that I cannot stand agendas in books. This doesn’t have any, and it did make me think.
5) I thought the mystery was pretty predictable. I guessed the murderer at the beginning, and the sequence of events throughout was pretty obvious to me. But, I was never bored or annoyed, and I still loved the book. I also just guess things too easily, like the murderer in Then There Were None, which is supposedly impossible to do. Or maybe I’ve read too much. But I don’t think the predictability of the story detracted from my enjoyment of it; the setting and characters made up for that!
6) This book is long, but engaging. I think These Shallow Graves is either just under or just over 500 pages long. This could’ve made the book drag, but I never thought it did! I was so immersed in the story that it felt short to me.
7) The ending was a little bit unsatisfying. I can’t say too much without spoilers, but I wanted mooore!! More Jo and Eddie, more New York, more everything. I think the problem was that a pretty major conflict was introduced towards the end of the book and not solved all the way. It’s a pretty open ending, which I just personally don’t care for.
This book was *almost* perfect, and the not-so-perfect things weren’t even that big of a deal. And it started my obsession with the very specific genre of YA Victorian murder mysteries, which I need more of because they seem very scarce. It’s a tragedy, really, and if you have any recommendations I’d love to hear them.
What is a very specific, very uncommon genre/category you love? Are you a fan of mysteries? Have you read Agatha Christie, and if so, did you guess the murderer? What is one thing that makes you really like a heroine?
Content Guide: There were a couple instances of very mild language. There wasn’t any sexual content.