These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly


Published: October 2015 by Hot Key Books

Edition: Hardcover

Pages: 496

Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance, Mystery

Josephine Montfort is an heiress, smart as you like but destined to be married off to the highest bidder. Jo has very different plans for her future though, she yearns to write and to report on the news in her beloved New York. The tragic sudden death of her father prompts her to start her own investigation, could there be more to this accident than meets the eye?

I’ve never been one to read a lot of historical fiction, in the past I’ve found them lacking in plot and too focused on the world building (I have the same problem with high fantasy sometimes). But this wasn’t a problem with this book at all. From the first page the story flew off into the mysterious world of victorian New York. Jo’s world is that of old money, arranged marriages and the glamorous dances that come with it. In her quest to find out the truth about her fathers passing she meets Eddie Gallagher, a newspaper reporter wanting to make a name fro himself and a quirky morgue worker who is a welcome comic relief.

I absolutely loved Jo’s character in this book, she was determined to find the truth but equally scared of what she might find out. She is bored of the rules she is forced to live by thanks to her place in society and her overbearing family who are waiting to marry her off. Jo’s love for investigative journalism is kept secret from almost everyone and is so endearing, her secret acts of defiance and feminism.

The story is well paced, thanks to short chapters and regular plot twists you always feel you need just one more page. Jo’s fathers death takes Jo on a journey full of criminals, deception and the poverty stricken streets of New York.

The romance in this story is very well placed and felt completely natural. There was no insta-love and the attraction took a natural course, something I rarely find these days in Young Adult fiction.

Overall this is a great story for those who love historical romances and mysteries but also for those who are wary of these subjects, it’s really a great introduction to all three things.
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