Review: These Shallow Graves – Jennifer Donnelly

24187925Title: These Shallow Graves

Author: Jennifer Donnelly

Publisher//Year: Random House Delacort//2015

Source: Local Library

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Synopsis: 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 secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, 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. Only 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 the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

Rating: 4/5

To be perfectly honest, my basis for selecting this book consisted of me thinking “Historical murder mystery?” and commencing with grabby hands. I *live* for this type of book. And this was just my type of book.

What I Loved:

  • Our Main Characters. I.LOVE.JOSEPHINE MONTFORT. You couldn’t have asked for a better heroine for this story. She’s smart and stubborn. She’s dedicated and loyal. She’s also realistically naive about the world outside of the one where she’s grown up.  I found Jo to be extremely relatable without sounding like a 21st Century girl shoehorned into a 19th Century story. I loved her development as a character and just generally adored her. I also really enjoyed Eddie Gallagher.  You’ve seen a million guys like him before – the wise-cracking, street-smart, hot-shot with the heart of gold- but Eddie stood out to me. He came across as very Jack Kelly of Newsies-esque and I think that’s where my love came from. And I loved their relationship. I knew it was coming and I was all in when it did. I mean, HOLY BANTER BATMAN. And it had a very realistic pace and speed to it. Both of them are extremely likeable and I found it really easy to root for both of them, both individually and as a couple.

What I Liked:

  • The Plot. The plot is fairly basic – Jo is investigating her father’s death – and there were aspects that were predictable and others that were not. Its more of a “whydunit” than a whodunit; I found the identity of the culprit obvious from the beginning, but not their motivation, and figuring that out kept me interested. There were a obligatory number of twists, only some of which caught me by surprise – though I did wonder if I should have.
  • The Ending. Without getting into spoiler-y details, it ended with some loose ends. I’m not always fond of these types of endings, but this one I really liked, especially when it comes to Jo. I told you I thought she was great.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The Other Guy. There’s a needless love triangle I thought served very little purpose in the story overall, other than keeping Jo’s connection with the society world, to compare to the world that she and Eddie are delving into. He’s a family friend that she’s known for years and she says multiple times that she doesn’t have any romantic feelings him. Yet its there. It was only a blip on my radar and didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the book, but I never got the point of it.
  • The Climax. This was a thing that detracted from my enjoyment of the book. It’s something that freaks me out personally and not everyone is going to have the same reaction as me. Without getting into spoilers, something came off kind of gaslight-y to me and I didn’t like it. Like I said, its a personal dislike.

Overall, These Shallow Graves is a solid, if somewhat predicable, historical murder mystery with a FANTASTIC heroine that I would highly recommend if you like historical fiction and/or thrillers. Just ignore the rando extra boyfriend lurking around.




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