Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Publisher: Random House Delacorte
Publication Date: October 27, 2015
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Pages: 496
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Summary (from Goodreads):

Set in gilded age New York, These Shallow Graves follows the story of Josephine Montfort, an American aristocrat. Jo lives a life of old-money ease. Not much is expected of her other than to look good and marry well. But when her father dies due to an accidental gunshot, the gilding on Jo’s world starts to tarnish. With the help of a handsome and brash reporter, and a young medical student who moonlights in the city morgue, Jo uncovers the truth behind her father’s death and learns that if you’re going to bury the past, you’d better bury it deep.
Jo Montfort has everything going for her. She's from a good family and is pretty much set to marry probably the richest man in New York. But when her father ends up dead in his study from apparent suicide covered up and called an accident, she just can't let it go. She goes to her father's newspaper to give one of his old friends a gift and she meets a handsome young reporter named Eddie Gallagher who is trying to make it big. She has her own dreams to become a big reporter like her idol Nellie Bly. So she convinces him to help her figure out what really happened to her father and they end up uncovering much more than they bargained for!
This is an excellent historical mystery novel full of twists and turns, betrayal and heartbreak. This book was much more than I ever expected it to be! In a way, it kind of reminded me of The Diviners, but without the magical aspects of it. And also better.
I really enjoyed Jo as a main character. She was very sheltered from her life of upperclass living and was very naive about a lot of things in her investigation. She was very brave to go after her father's killer the way that she did despite being roughed up a bit at one point. She's bold. She's got a bit of spunk. She was a very strong girl to do the right thing in the end, no matter the cost to her family.
I also really liked Eddie. He was determined to get his story to make it big with a good newspaper. A better one than Jo's father's newspaper that doesn't report on pretty much anything but the goings on of the people of society. He was really helpful to Jo, at first it was probably just to get his story and she was a good inside scoop with the people who wouldn't give him a second look and then they really started to care for each other. He was kind. He was also quite brave. He was a quick thinker. He was a very upstanding guy.
The romance was cute. It wasn't really instant, but it also didn't really take them very long to get romantic. I was pleased with it. I thought that they made a good couple. They worked well together and they genuinely cared for each other despite them having VERY different lives. They pretty much wanted the same things and I just really liked them together. You could say there's a love triangle in this book, but really there's no contest between the two guys so I'd say really there's not.
The plot moved forward really well. I didn't feel like it was really too slow at all. It felt like they were constantly following new leads and learning new things about their case and I felt really interested and engaged the whole time! That is saying something because this was actually a pretty long book!
If I had to make any complaints, I would say that the twist was maybe a little obvious. I had that figured out fairly quickly I feel. Also, the ending wasn't exactly what I wanted to happen, but it wasn't bad. I just wanted a liiiiittle more.
I would recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and mystery novels. And if you enjoyed The Diviners, I think that you will also like this one. Or if you are like me and didn't really care for The Diviners, you'll probably like this one better, it moves along faster and has a much more satisfying ending!

This will take the Mystery bingo square!


  1. Thanks for this review!! I have an arc of this book but I'm not sure it's for me. I don't read a lot of mysteries and this book is a little long for not being a huge fan of the genres. But I might give it a try because the romance sounds like a romance I'd really like. Great review! :)

    1. I wasn't 100% sure that this book was for me either, but I was really pleasantly surprised by it! If you decide to give it a shot, I hope you like it! :)

  2. I love historical fiction, and mystery! I'm enjoying Donnelly's Waterfire series, so I may give this one a shot! Great review!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. I would recommend it! I hope you like it if you get around to reading it! :)


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