REVIEW: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

theseshallowgravesThese Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
Delacorte, 2015
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]

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.


These Shallow Graves actually came onto my radar thanks to its gorgeous cover. I am not actually typically a cover buyer, but this one – combined with some highly-rated reviews and a very interesting summary – just spoke to me. I’d never read a book by this author before, but let me tell you, I’m pretty much hooked and shall be reading anything else she’s written. I absolutely loved this book – it’s so well researched, and the romance between Jo and Eddie just pulled me in. I also liked how not everything was perfectly tied up in the end, either. The mystery is solved, but things aren’t perfect yet, and possibly aren’t ever going to be. It was a nice change of pace from the books I usually read. Best of all, it was a stand alone! Those seem to be extremely few and far between nowadays.

Jo Montfort is your typical girl in a historical book that doesn’t want to conform to society’s standards. She wants to be a reporter, just like Nellie Bly, which just isn’t done, especially since her family is rich and well respected and there are certain expectations on her. The biggest one is that she’ll marry Bram Aldrich and give the family lots of grand babies. Jo isn’t exactly opposed to this – she cares for Bram – but does care that marrying him will put an end to her dreams. Then her father is killed, and she meets Eddie, and that’s when the book really takes off. Jo finds herself in a lot of dangerous situations as she tries to figure out the truth behind her father’s death; the thing I loved is that she refuses to give up, even though Eddie tries several times to get her to leave things to him alone. She was so strong-willed and yet still clearly grieving for her father, and I just really loved her to pieces.

The forbidden romance between Jo and Eddie likewise made me SO happy. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses – they are from two totally different classes, and Jo goes against her family every single time she meets with him – and yet their romance felt so real that I fell in love right along with them. Eddie was brave, and strong, and determined, and he really balanced Jo out. I also loved how slow burning things were between them – it felt right int he context of the story as well as the time period – and my heart ached every single time things came up to get between them. They are a perfect duo, not only personality-wise, but also as semi-detectives. Honestly they both just made this story for me.

The mystery itself perhaps was a bit obvious, at least in terms of who did it, but I did love all the looks into the history of the Montfort’s shipping company and the ugly truths that come to light about Jo’s father’s past. The ending in particular – when the truth is finally revealed – was action-packed and kept me eagerly turning the pages. I was definitely sad to let these characters go once it was all over.

These Shallow Graves was one of my best of 2015. It had everything fans of historical YA could want: great characters, an engaging mystery, lots of historical details, and a fabulous slow-burning romance. I’d definitely recommend it!



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1 Response to REVIEW: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

  1. I’ve only ever read one novel by this author, but I did really enjoy it. Your review makes THESE SHALLOW GRAVES sound so interesting! I love that it’s part mystery, part romance; that’s always an intriguing combination! Plus, that cover really is beautiful :)

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