Book Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

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Marking author Jennifer Donnelly’s triumphant return to historical fiction, These Shallow Graves is a book filled with lush imagery, a captivating and dangerous mystery, and seductive romance.

these shallow gravesJo 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 transports you to 1890 New York City in a very palpable way. It is a deeply and well-researched story that offers up a glimpse at life in another era, wrapped up with captivating characters and an engaging and page-turning mystery-filled plot. Like me, it will surely keep other readers up late at night, reading and racing through pages to uncover the truth just as surely as Jo herself!

I am a huge fan of Donnelly’s historical fiction, and These Shallow Graves does not disappoint. Like her other historical novels, the book is a rich and lush story. It is more than just a glimpse at one girl’s sheltered and restricted life in the 1890s. It is more than just a murder-mystery. It is more than just a forbidden romance. It is all of these things, and more. Donnelly masterfully layers each aspect of the story, beautifully blending historical context, complex subplots, and nuanced details for a deeply satisfying reading experience.

One of my favorite books of the year, These Shallow Graves is available in stores now.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

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  1. I totally agree with you. This was a great book, my 2015 Favorite for sure. JD has a way of making the reader feel so involved with her characters and place in time.

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