ARC Review: These Shallow Graves-Jennifer Donnelly


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synSet 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.

review4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Random House Children’s Delacorte Press.

There’s something special about These Shallow Graves that sucks you in like a great Sherlock Holmes story. The gritty social themes, sense of danger on the horizon, and engaging protagonist combine for a wonderfully entertaining and unforgettable read. 

READ THIS BOOK IF: 

  • If you love some good old-fashioned sleuthing. 
  • You’re a sucker for Austen-esque situations meets Dickens’ darker side. 
  • You’re NOT looking for a pure love story.

PROS:

  • Jo is a feisty, progressive protagonist who aims to expose the shady underside of poverty, working girls, and general injustice. Determined, courageous, and spontaneous, Jo finds herself in sticky, dangerous situations that are highly improper for a girl of her station. Jo doesn’t let fear or propriety rule her, she realizes that there are bigger things at stake than her reputation and it’s this spunky, spark of personality that makes her so endearing. I love, love, love her. Some situations are hilarious and other terrifying but Jo is cunning and quick on her feet, she never lets her fear show and it’s that marvelous acting that saves her life over and over again. You feel every second of boredom and dissatisfaction with her role as a upperclass woman, Jo wants freedom and more than anything to write exposes. The fire within that drives her to investigate is addictive and crazy exhilarating to read, you get swept up right along with her. 
  • The divide between the upper class and lower is vibrant and extremely detailed, you’ll feel transported into another world. The life of the rich with their easy access to money, casual lifestyles, and expensive clothing is wildly different than the children who pickpocket and young girls who sell their bodies in brothels. 
  • Secondary characters are memorable and each story is unique. Characters like Fay, the Tailor, and Oscar were engaging and wormed right on in to the story, making it more full and colorful. Fay’s position was heartbreaking and it’s admirable how strong she is, how clever. Oscar is quirky and intelligent, he’s that blunt, excitable medical guy who doesn’t have a filter. The Tailor is corrupt, enterprising, and pretty terrifying. A villain and savior, he’s straight out of Dickens. 
  • Eddie is subtly sexy. He’s got this rough, edgy way about him that draws Jo in like a homing beacon. Passionate, motivated, and eager to find the next big story, he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty and in many ways, mirrors Jo. Together Jo and Eddie are an unstopable force. The heat is there and you truly feel the attraction building in ways that border on love. 

CONS:

  • The mystery itself had a little too many tells and clues, I figured out every twist and turn well before they were revealed but even knowing the outcome, it was the journey that kept me captivated. 
  • Jo and Eddie are a bit amateurish. They don’t put things together as fast as they should and many times, I found myself shouting at them to figure it out already. Kind of like those people who hear a thud upstairs on a dark and scary night and want to go check it out. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Pleasant reading, 

Jordan

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