Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genres: Crime, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Buy the Book • Goodreads
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 don’t read historical fiction very much, which may seem funny as I study history at University, but I tend to stick to fantasy and contemporary. I picked up These Shallow Graves after mulling it over for several weeks after spotting it in my local Waterstones. There was just something about the cover, synopsis and the fact that it was set in early 1900s New York that I could not shake. I ended up buying it finally and I do not regret it one bit. The book was written well, the plot was well thought out, the characters were very interesting to read about.
So what is it about? These Shallow Graves is a Young Adult Mystery/Crime book set in New York where we follow Josephine Montfort who is investigating her father’s death with the help of Eddie and others. If you read it, you may deem it as predictable in some places, but I loved the last 100 pages of this book as they were quite unexpected. I feel like it is the perfect historical murder mystery plot and I found myself unable to put this book down. It also features a forbidden romance, but does not focus heavily on this which I think is great. I do love a bit of romance in books, but I’m not a fan of it when books have an interesting plot but focus on the romance more heavily than anything else. As a mystery, there were several twists and turns in this book, including character twists. There were some things that I felt were quite predictable, but I loved how the main mystery opened up another case, which really surprised me. This book was just full of surprises!
In terms of characters, one of the things I love is how the book shows Jo, our main character, really evolve as a person and as an aspiring writer. It shows her trying to break out of the standards that upper class girls would have to abide by, which I think is so good as it shows the book is staying true to history, but also presents the struggle and expectations of girls and women in this time period. It really brings something different. You could say that the romance in it is a bit ‘standard historical fiction romance’, however I am going off the only other historical fiction book I have read, and that is A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller. The other characters, such as Eddie and Oscar, are also enjoyable to read about.
To put it short, I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it and if you have read it or plan to read it, let me know what you think!