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February 18, 2016

A Shot of YA: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Series: Standalone
Format: eGalley
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult | Mystery | Thriller | Historical

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.




I had to revisit Jennifer Donnelly's THESE SHALLOW GRAVES because I didn't quite get into it on my first try but I finally managed to get the book's groove on my second attempt. I love a lot of things about this novel from its turn of the century (1890) historical setting to the murder mystery, the schemes, the suspicious looking characters, down to the nitty-gritty rules of society, Jo Montfort's world and special situation sure made for a fascinating plot. 

THESE SHALLOW GRAVES is a young adult historical suspense mystery that has a mature tone to it. Jo Montfort is a debutante and an heiress to a shipping fortune and it all changed when Jo's dad died from an accident/suicide. But upon closer inspection, it looks like her dad was murdered. And as there's a big cover-up happening and everyone is quick to rule it a suicide, it's now up to Jo to prove it otherwise. The question is: who did it and why? The answers are jaw-dropping.

JDonnelly gave an authentic feel to the time period from the setting down to the dialogue, lending the novel an authentic atmosphere that is unique to the era. I also enjoyed how JDonnelly peeled the layers of this story, stripping Jo's charmed life slowly as her investigation moves forward. The build up was gripping, there were a lot of moving parts, the trail is long and filled with characters that added flavor to the story. The big reveal was pretty devastating even in today's standards and Jo didn't come out of the opposite end unscathed. The resolution is also strong, I love how things were wrapped up as it opened the story to new possibilities. I wouldn't be surprised if JDonnelly releases a companion novel or turns this into a series.

So why only give THESE SHALLOW GRAVES 3 cauldrons? Ironically it's because of Jo. For someone who plans on being a credible journalist (scandalous idea for a woman of her class during this time), Jo was a bit dry for a narrator and lacked wit. Thankfully her love interest, Eddie, a newspaper reporter and the one who helped Jo uncover the conspiracy behind her father's death, made up for some of Jo's shortcomings and provided a more compelling voice. My favorite is Oscar, the med student studying forensics, whose scenes are pretty gut churning, but very entertaining a la CSI and funny; and street urchin, Fay. If JDonnelly is planning a companion novel, I vote for Oscar or Fay to lead it. 

Aside from the well-executed plot, the romance is not so bad either. There's a forbidden element as Jo's rich and Eddie's poor, but it's not in the forefront and didn't derail the plot, it just added another layer of tension to the story which enhanced the ending for me. And despite my criticisms for Jo's character, I like her very much. She's not whiny, flighty, or a tempestuous 17yo, she's very smart and resourceful and I can't help but admire her optimistic attitude after everything that's happened.

THESE SHALLOW GRAVES is a good historical mystery and I enjoyed the tale, got swept my the mystery, and love JDonnelly's style. I look forward to her next novel in this genre.










Talk Supe


22 comments:

  1. I really did like this as well even though it was a bit slow at times and I do wish the romance would have been a bit more. Overall though, a good story and I'm glad you liked it as well.

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  2. I like the creepy and beautiful cover

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  3. I love the cover, dang I might get this one just for that cover.

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  4. I had quite the same feelings but the other books I did read by her so I confess that I'm not that sure about it...

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  5. Been a while since I read a historical romance, and love the idea of some mystery thrown in. Fantastic review! Hugs...

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  6. I've had my eye on this one. Glad it worked out well the second try. Some books are like that.

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  7. Great review Braine. I think I saw this around before or maybe there is another novel out there with the same title.
    Thanks

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  8. I really want to read this one! I think I'd like it a lot but it's too bad the MC isn't a bit more witty or something that stands out more. However if secondary characters are it may be okay. I'm definitely going to read this at some point.

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  9. I started reading this but couldn't get into it. My year of finally dnf'ing - but then I regret it as soon as I read reviews...but maybe I would have liked it lol

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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  10. I have this one and I haven't tried it yet. THe reviews are all over the place, and most people seem to have issues with the heroine and the length. I don't know if I will read it, but I guess I should try.

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  11. Hmm, glad to hear that the suspense and narration was good, but Jo was kind of dry

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  12. I put this one on the back burner after all the mixed reviews. I may read it eventually.

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  13. Sometimes it takes setting a book aside and picking up later. That time makes a difference. :) Thanks for sharing about it.

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  14. It always sucks when a heroine's characterization can only be saved by a hero's. I'm disappointed that for Jo's being ahead of the times, she was still lacking in chutzpah.

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  15. I'll admit the cover lover in me had me eyeballing this book quite a bit late last year.

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  16. Bummer the MC wasn't all that exciting. It often makes a book tough to read. I was curious about this one, but I don't know. I'm not DYING to get my hands on it.

    -Lauren
    www.letsgetbeyondtolerance.blogspot.com

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  17. Good to see you enjoyed most parts of this story, just that Jo erked you a little.

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  18. I've been very curious about this one, Braine. It sounds like a good read. I'm glad you gave it a second chance and liked it overall.

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  19. This is where listening to the audiobook helped the book, while I didn't love Jo, the narration added some tone, and emotion to her character.

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  20. A Young Adult historical suspense mystery, sounds good. I am glad it worked better for you the second time you gave this book a try. Oh and I like the sound of how the time period has an authentic feel. I am glad to hear the romance worked well and added another layer of tension to the story. Great review!

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  21. I'm sold! Even with all its appearant flaws, this looks pretty damn interesting and like the theme of feminism is very important! I hope I'll like Jo a bit better than you did, though :// I don't like characters who lack wit either. Great review!!

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  22. Sorry this fell a bit in the protagonist department, but I’m glad that it was still a great plot! Need to pick this one up soon. Great review! :D

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