Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Posted March 30, 2016 by chooseyabooks in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from Hot Key Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer DonnellyTitle: These Shallow Graves
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: October 27th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Love & Romance, Fiction, Thrillers, General, Historical, United States, 19th Century, Girls & Women, Action & Adventure
Pages: 496
Format: eARC
Source: Hot Key Books

A wealthy family. A deadly secret. A young woman with more to lose than she knows.
Josephine Montfort is from one of New York's oldest, most respected, and wealthiest families. Like most well-off girls of the Gilded Age, her future looks set - after a finishing school education, she will be favourably married off to a handsome gentleman, after which she'll want for nothing. But Jo has other dreams and desires that make her long for a very different kind of future. She wants a more meaningful and exciting life: she wants to be an investigative journalist like her heroine Nellie Bly.
But when Jo's father is found dead in his study after an alleged accident, her life becomes far more exciting than even Jo would wish. Unable to accept that her father could have been so careless, she begins to investigate his death with the help of a young reporter, Eddie Gallagher. It quickly becomes clear he was murdered, and in their race against time to discover the culprit and his motive, Jo and Eddie find themselves not only battling dark characters on the violent and gritty streets of New York, but also their growing feelings for each other.

Review: These Shallow Graves was one of my most anticipated reads of 2015. From the moment I read about it in the Bookseller, to hearing the enthusiasm from Hot Key Books at their 2015 blogger brunch, I knew this would be a book I couldn’t wait for. It has taken me a little time to review it however do not think this is because it’s not met my expectations or I didn’t enjoy it. I did.

Jo Montford wants to be a writer, however that isn’t what her family or society expect from her. Everything changes when her father is found dead after supposedly accidentally shooting himself. However, Jo knows her father wouldn’t clean a loaded gun so tries to uncover the truth behind his death and is later joined by keen reporter, Eddie.

These Shallow Graves is a brilliant historical novel. While there are several great historical novels in YA (I in particular have enjoyed Catherine Johnson’s work), it feels like a slightly less explored market than YA set now or in the recent past. Donnelly really creates a vivid world and sense of the period. Donnelly has a great writing style and she drew me in very quickly until I couldn’t put my ereader down!

While aspects of the mystery were somewhat predictable and I did guess several twists, I really enjoyed this book. Donnelly writes so well and the historical setting made it stand out in the crowd more. I thought the characterisation was strong and the relationship and interactions between Jo and Eddie were great to read. I enjoyed Eddie as a character, though found him a bit frustrating at times (the same is true of Jo) and the story really began to draw me in and become unputdownable as Eddie and Jo team up to investigate.

Overall, Donnelly’s These Shallow Graves is a well-executed historical YA thriller and I thought the ending in particular drew things together well. It looks at more than just the mystery but the role and expectations of women in the late nineteenth/start of the twentieth century and also what the world was really like, not just in high society but across New York City.

I look forward to Jennifer Donnelley’s next novel and on the strength of These Shallow Graves have been interested in reading more of Donnelley’s writings including her non-YA series.

Fans of Historical YA or Mystery YA novels should find lots to enjoy in These Shallow Graves.


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