The New York Times bestseller from the acclaimed author of A Northern Light, Revolution, and Stepsister. This thrilling mystery is perfect for fans of The Cellar and Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls. It's a story of dark secrets, dirty truths, and the lengths to which people will go for love and revenge.
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 dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter.
Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. The story is that Charles Montfort shot himself while cleaning his revolver, but the more Jo hears about her father’s death, the more something feels wrong. And then she meets Eddie—a young, smart, 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. But 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 this time the truth is the dirtiest part of all.
Praise for These Shallow Graves:
★ “Action-packed chapters propel this compelling mystery…[and] the injustices Donelly highlights remain all too relevant.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Lovely prose, historical intrigue, unique characters and setting. I devoured this book!” —Ruta Sepetys, New York Times bestselling author of Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea
“A splendidly hair-raising tour of the brightest and darkest corners of Victorian New York.” —Elizabeth Wein, New York Times bestselling author of Code Name Verity and Black Dove, White Raven
“A fast-paced Gilded Age crime thriller.” —Julie Berry, award-winning author of All the Truth That’s in Me
About the Author
Jennifer Donnelly is the author of three adult novels, The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose, and The Wild Rose, as well as the young adult novels These Shallow Graves, Revolution, Stepsister, and A Northern Light, winner of Britain's prestigious Carnegie Medal, the L.A. Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature, and a Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award. She lives and writes full-time in upstate New York. You can visit her at jenniferdonnelly.com or find @JenWritesBooks on Twitter.
Read an Excerpt
Miss Sparkwell’s School for Young Ladies
September 17, 1890
“Trudy, be a dear and read these stories for me,” said Jo Montfort, laying out articles for her school’s newspaper on a tea table. “I can’t abide errors.”
Gertrude Van Eyck, all blond curls and dimples, stopped dead in the middle of the common room. “How did you know it was me? You didn’t even look up!”
“Duke told me,” Jo replied. Duke’s Cameos were Trudy’s favorite brand of cigarette.
Trudy sniffed her sleeve. “Do I smell?”
“You positively reek. What does Gilbert Grosvenor think of you smoking cigarettes?”
“Gilbert Grosvenor doesn’t know. Not about the ciggies, or the bottle of gin under my bed, or that utterly swell boy who delivers apples,” Trudy said, winking.
“Slang does not become a Farmington girl, Gertrude,” sniffed Libba Newland, seated nearby with her friend, May Delano.
“Neither does that fringe, Lib,” said Trudy, eyeing Libba’s badly curled bangs.
“Well, I never!” Libba huffed.
“And I’m sure you never will,” Trudy said archly.
“Stop being awful and read these, Tru,” Jo scolded. “My deadline’s tomorrow.”
Trudy sat down at the table and helped herself to a jam tart from Jo’s plate. It was three o’clockteatime at Miss Sparkwell’sand the common room was crowded with students on break. Everyone was chatting and eating except Jo, who was busy finalizing the layout for the second edition of the Jonquil.
“What do we have this week?” Trudy asked. “The usual tripe?”
Jo sighed. “I’m afraid so,” she said. “There’s a piece on the proper way to brew tea, a poem about kittens, Miss Sparkwell’s impressions of the Louvre, and advice on how to fade freckles.”
“Ye gads. Anything else?”
Jo hesitated, working up her nerve. “As a matter of fact, yes. A story on the abuse of girl laborers at Fenton’s Textile Mill,” she said, handing one of the articles to her friend.
“Ha! So funny, my darling!” Trudy said, smiling. Her smile faded as she read the first lines. “Oh dear God. You’re serious.”
Trudy kept reading, riveted, and Jo watched her, thrilled. Jo was a senior at Miss Sparkwell’s and had written for the Jonquil during her three previous years at the school, but this was the first important story she’d written. She’d worked hard to get it. She’d taken risks. Just like a real reporter.
“What do you think?” she asked eagerly when Trudy finished reading.
“I think you’ve lost your mind,” Trudy replied.
“But do you think it’s good?” Jo pressed.
Jo, who’d been perched on the edge of her seat, shot forward and hugged Trudy, a huge grin on her face.
“But that’s entirely beside the point,” Trudy said sternly as Jo sat down again. “If you hand in the layout to Sparky with that story in it, you’re done for. Detention for a week and a letter home.”
“It’s not that bad. Nellie Bly’s pieces are far more provocative,” said Jo.
“You’re comparing yourself to Nellie Bly?” Trudy asked, incredulous. “Need I remind you that she’s a scandalous lady reporter who meddles in other people’s business and has no hope of marrying a decent man? You, in contrast, are a Montfort, and Montforts marry. Early and well. And that is all.”
“Well, this Montfort’s going to do a bit more,” Jo declared. “Like write stories for newspapers.”
Trudy raised a perfectly arched eyebrow. “Is that so? Have you informed your mother?”
“Actually, no. Not yet,” Jo admitted.
Trudy laughed. “Not ever, you mean. Unless you want to find yourself locked away in a convent until you’re fifty.”
“Tru, this is a story that must be told,” Jo said, her passion clear in her voice. “Those poor girls are being mistreated. They’re worked hard and paid little. They’re practically slaves.”
“Jo. How on earth do you know this?”
“I spoke with some of them.”
“You didn’t,” Trudy said.
“I did. On Sunday. After services.”
“But you went straight to your room after services. You said you had a headache.”
“And then I climbed out of my window and went down to the river. To one of the boardinghouses there,” Jo said, lowering her voice. She didn’t want anyone to overhear her. “A farmer gave me a ride in his wagon. I spoke with three girls. One was seventeen. Our age, Tru. The others were younger. They work ten-hour days standing at these hellish looms. Injuries are common. So is exposure to coarse language and . . . and situations. I was told that some of the girls fall in with bad sorts and become wayward.”
Trudy’s eyes widened. “Josephine Montfort. Do you really think that Mr. Abraham Aldrich wants his future wife to even know that wayward girls exist, much less write about them? The future Mrs. Aldrich must be pure in mind as well as body. Only men are supposed to know about”Trudy lowered her voice, too“about sex. If news of what you’ve done gets around, not only will you lose your place here, you’ll lose the most eligible bachelor in New York. For goodness’ sake, be sensible! No mill girl, wayward or otherwise, is worth the Aldrich millions!”
May Delano looked up from her book. “What’s a wayward girl?” she asked.
“Never mind,” Trudy said.
“Tell me,” May whined.
“Very well,” Trudy replied, turning to look at May. “A girl who is with child but without a husband.”
May laughed. “Shows what you know, Trudy Van Eyck. The stork brings babies after you’re married, not before.”
“Come, May, we’re leaving” said Libba Newland, shooting Trudy a dirty look. “The common room is getting a bit too common.”
“I’ll bet you a dollar Lib tattles to Sparky,” Trudy said darkly, watching them go. “I just finished my detention for smoking. Now you’ve earned me some more!”
Disappointed by Trudy’s lack of enthusiasm for her story, Jo snatched it back. She wished Trudy understood her. Wished someone did. She’d read Bly’s Ten Days in a Mad-House and Jacob Riis’s How the Other Half Lives, and they’d touched her deeply. She’d been appalled to learn how the poor suffered and felt compelled to follow the examples those two reporters set, if only in some small way.
She thought about the mill girls she’d spoken with. They’d looked so crushingly tired. Their faces were as pale as milk, except for the dark smudges under their eyes. They’d been taken out of school and made to work. They weren’t allowed to talk or to go to the bathroom until their lunch breaks. One told her she could barely walk home at the end of the day, her legs hurt so badly from standing.
Their stories had made Jo sadand blisteringly angry. “Trudy, why did I become editor of the Jonquil?” she suddenly asked.
“I have no idea,” Trudy replied. “You should’ve joined the glee club. Even you can’t get into trouble singing ‘Come into the Garden, Maud.’ ”
“I shall tell you.”
“I had a feeling you would,” Trudy said dryly.
“I did it because I want to inform my readers. Because I wish to draw back the veil that hides the injustices that surround us,” Jo said, her voice rising. “We who have means and a voice must use them to help those who have neither. Yet how can we help them if we don’t even know about them? And how can we know about them if no one writes about them? Is it so wrong to want to know things?”
Heads turned as Jo finished speaking. Girls stared. She glared back at them until they turned away. “They suffer, those mill girls,” she said, her voice quieter, but her heart still full of emotion. “They are so terribly unfortunate.”
Trudy took her hand. “My darling Jo, there is no one more unfortunate than we ourselves,” she said. “We are not engaged yet, you and I. We’re spinsters. Pathetic nobodies. We can go nowhere on our own. We must not be too forward in speech, dress, or emotion lest we put off a potential suitor. We are allowed no funds of our own, and most of all”she squeezed Jo’s hand for emphasis“no opinions.”
“Doesn’t it bother you, Tru?” Jo asked, frustrated.
“Of course it does! Which is why I intend to marry as soon as I can,” Trudy said.
She jumped up, snapped open an imaginary fan, and strode about the room imitating a society lady. “When I am Mrs. Gilbert Grosvenor and happily installed in my grand Fifth Avenue mansion, I shall do exactly as I please. I shall say what I like, read what I like, and go out every evening in silks and diamonds to smile at my beaux from my box at the Met.”
It was Jo’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “And Mr. Gilbert Grosvenor? Where will he be?” she asked.
“At home. Sulking by the fire with a copy of The Wall Street Journal,” Trudy said, imitating Gilbert’s eternally disapproving expression.
Jo laughed despite herself. “I’ll never understand how you were passed over for the lead in the school play. You belong on stage,” she said.
“I wasn’t passed over, thank you. I was offered the lead and declined it. Mr. Gilbert Grosvenor frowns upon theatricals.”
For a moment, Jo forgot about her own worries. She knew Gilbert. He was smug and disapproving, an old man at twenty. He was also stinking rich.
“Will you really marry him?” she asked. She could no more see beautiful, lively Trudy married to Gilbert than she could picture a hummingbird paired with a toad.
“I mean to. Why shouldn’t I?”
“Because you . . . You’ll have to . . .” She couldn’t say it.
“Go to bed with him?” Trudy finished.
Jo blushed. “That is not what I was going to say!”
“But it’s what you meant.”
Trudy looked out of a nearby window. Her eyes traveled over the lawns to the meadows, then farther still, to a placea futureonly she could see.
“A bit of nightly unpleasantness in exchange for days of ease. Not such a bad bargain,” Trudy said, with a rueful smile. “Some of us are not as well off as others. My papa can barely manage my school fees, never mind the dressmaker’s bills. And anyway, it’s not me I’m worried about. It’s you.” Trudy turned her attention back to Jo. “You know the rules: get yourself hitched, then do what you like. But for heaven’s sake, until you get the man, smile like a dolt and talk about tulips, not mill girls!”
Disappointment settled on Jo like a heavy woolen cloak. She knew Trudy was right. Sparky would be appalled if she ever found out what Jo had done. So would her parents, the Aldriches, and the rest of New York. Her New York, at leastold New York. Well-bred girls from old families came out, got engaged, and then went backback to drawing rooms, dinner parties, and dances. They did not venture into the dangerous, dirty world to become reporters, or anything else.
The boys got to, though. They couldn’t become reporters eitherthat was too grubby an occupation for a gentlemanbut they could own a newspaper, run a business, practice law, breed horses, have agricultural interests, or do something in government like the Jays and the Roosevelts. Jo knew this but couldn’t accept it. It chafed at her spirit, as surely as the stays of her corset chafed her body.
Why is it, she wondered now, that boys get to do things and be things and girls only get to watch?
Jo looked up. It was Arabella Paulding, a classmate.
“Sparky wants to see you in her office,” she said. “Right away.”
“Why?” Jo asked.
“She didn’t say. She told me to find you and fetch you. I’ve found you, so go.”
“Libba tattled,” Trudy said ominously.
Jo gathered up her papers, dreading her interview with the headmistress.
“Don’t worry, my darling,” Trudy said. “You’ll only get a few days’ detention, I’m sure. Unless Sparky expels you.”
“You’re such a comfort,” said Jo.
Trudy smiled ruefully. “What can I say? I merely wish to smoke. Sparky can forgive that. You, on the other hand, wish to know things. And no one can forgive a girl for that.”
Jo hurried out of Hollister Hall, crossed the grassy quad, and entered Slocum, where the headmistress’s office was. A tall gilt mirror stood in the foyer. It caught her image as she rushed by ita slender girl wearing a long brown skirt, a pin-striped blouse, and lace‑up boots. Wavy black hair formed a widow’s peak over a high forehead, and a pair of lively gray eyes stared out from an uncommonly pretty face.
“You’d be a beauty,” her mother often told her, “if only you’d stop scowling.”
“I’m not scowling, Mama, I’m thinking,” Jo always replied.
“Well, stop. It’s unappealing,” her mother would say.
Jo reached the door to Miss Sparkwell’s office and paused, steeling herself for a thorough dressing down. She knocked.
“Enter!” a voice called out.
Jo turned the knob and pushed the door open, prepared to see the headmistress wearing a grave expression. She was not prepared, however, to see her standing by a window dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief. Had the mill girls story upset her that much?
“Miss Sparkwell, I don’t know what Libba said to you, but the story has merit,” Jo said, launching a preemptive strike. “It’s high time the Jonquil offered its readers something weightier than poems about kittens.”
“My dear, I did not summon you here to talk about the Jonquil.”
“You didn’t?” Jo said, surprised.
Miss Sparkwell passed a hand over her brow. “Mr. Aldrich, would you? II find I cannot,” she said, her voice catching.
Jo turned around and was astonished to see two of her oldest friendsAbraham Aldrich and his sister, Adelaideseated on a divan. She’d been so preoccupied with defending her story, she hadn’t even noticed them.
“Bram! Addie!” she exclaimed, rushing to her friends. “What a lovely surprise! But I wish you’d have let me know you were coming. I would’ve changed out of my uniform. I would have . . .” Her words trailed off as she realized they were both dressed entirely in black. A cold dread gripped her.
“I’m afraid we have some bad news, Jo,” Bram said, rising.
“Oh, Jo. Be brave, my darling,” Addie whispered, joining him.
Jo looked from one to the other, her dread growing. “You’re frightening me,” she said. “For goodness’ sake, what is it?” And then she knew. Mr. Aldrich had been in poor health for some time. “Oh, no. It’s your father, isn’t it?”
“No, Jo, not ours,” said Addie quietly. She took Jo’s hand.
“Not yours? II don’t understand.”
“Jo, your father is dead,” Bram said. “It was an accident. He was cleaning a revolver in his study last night and it went off. Addie and I have come to fetch you home. We’ll get your things, and then . . .”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Im reading the book right now and i absolutely love it. Trying to find out about her father's death, josephine montfort is an amazing character
Jennifer Donnelly ceeated a whole new world that absolutely absorbed me. There is nothing quite like a good murder mystery novel with a love triangle.
I thoroughly enjoy all of Jennifer Donnelly's books and this one was no exception. Mystery, intrigue, endearing characters, and an era written so well that I can see it perfectly in my mind as the story plays out. I couldn't put this one down.
So here's a story that takes you to the 1800's. A tale of murder, mystery and romance; what could be better than that? Young Josephine Montfort, is on a mission that's not good for her reputation, her future in marriage, as well as her health! Everything she's not supposed to be doing, she goes up against, for the love of her father. Written by Jennifer Donnelly, this piece of historical fiction is full an adventure for anyone. While stewing behind the walls of a rich girl's school, discussing kittens and future beaus, Jo wants to become a reporter, healing the world of its atrocities through words, but she's given terrible news. Her father's dead from an apparent accident, but the so-called tragedy doesn't make sense... Period pieces can sometimes be extremely dull, but not with These Shallow Graves. Not one minute was wasted on blather and Victorian garble. It was direct, carefully detailed without overkill and easy to visualize while reading. Though I figured out who did what, and why, before the telling, it was such a pleasant read. You really should grab a copy, whether audio or physical. I don't think you'll be disappointed. *For the full review: http://www.areneehunt.com/the-reviews/these-shallow-graves-by-jennifer-donnelly I'm off to the next read! These Shallow Graves Jennifer Donnelly Narrated by Kim Bubbs
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly was full of interesting characters, both good and bad. The book was beautifully written and reminded me of a real old fashioned mystery except I had big parts of the mystery figured out pretty early on. Still, it was enjoyable to watch unfold. Jo was spunky and smart, but she has lead a sheltered life. Eddie grew up in a world completely opposite of Jo's, so as they investigated what really happened to Jo's father, she has many dangerous and eye opening experiences. We get to know many different kinds of characters throughout this story, and they all have something of significance to add to it. Fay was my favorite. This girl has guts galore, and could easily have her own book. We get an idea of where the characters are heading and what kinds of lives they'll live, but I'd love to know more details. Especially when it comes to Jo, and even Fay. Yes, I'm that nosy.
ARC kindly provided by Allen & Unwin in exchange for an honest review. Title: These Shallow Graves Author: Jennifer Donnelly Published: 22 June 2016 Publisher: Allen & Unwin RRP: $16.99 Review I could not and CAN not express how excited I was about receiving a paperback ARC of 'These Shallow Graves'! I was literally on cloud nine! I have heard so much good things about it from the rest of the YA community (and some bad things) but this novel seemed right up my alley and boy was I glad that I was able read it! I was ready to give it a FIVE star...but...here's why it a four. I thought the novel was a solid work that had many things going for it. But there were a few that just nicked down my rating little by little. For example: I really enjoyed Jennifer Donnelly's writing style and this novel was NOT my first read by the author. It was probably book one of the 'Waterfire Saga'. Have you guys seen the cover for that one? *fangirling all over again* But the draw back with that novel as well as this one was that the writing didn't have unique tang or flavour to it that would have identified Donnelly as the author. She wasn't able to give me that something special with her words that would have made the novel hers and hers alone. The plot was extremely well constructed. There were twists and turn and passion and romance! Gosh! So much that went on! But...at the end of the day, it didn't amaze me AS much as I wanted it to. Let me clarify this: I enjoyed the story IMMENSELY but I thought it could have been better. I felt like some parts of the novel went on a little. No, they didn't drag and bore me to death, but I did wonder what the purpose of all those extra words was. The author probably could have said just as much in less AND it would have made the effect more powerful. The characters were great! I loved them to bits and pieces! I thought each was quite interesting and I loved how their behaviour and antics were so TRUE and RIGHT for the time period in which they lived. They captured the essence of what it was to live in 19th century, New York. Josephine was such a pleasure to read from. She was a 21st century soul trapped in the body of a 19th century girl. She was driven, clever, brave, persistent, and – my most favourite of all – with a big, gigantic heart that loved and felt for everybody. And her name! Her name! It was a reference to Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'! It is my all time favourite series and I greatly admired how Jennifer Donnelly masterfully merged classic and thriller to create a new type of classic worthy of any audience today. But best of all was the chemistry between Eddie Gallagher and Jo. Slow-burning and sweet, it was a romance that touched my heart, soul and mind. And I loved it! And, YES, the novel did focus a lot on the life privileged and non-privileged women had to survive in order to be identified as normal. As sensible. There were SO many hardships that both types of women had to undergo in order to live in a – let's say it – MAN's world. Because that is what it was. And they ruled over it with an iron fist. https://staceykym.wordpress.com/2016/06/28/review-these-shallow-graves-by-jennifer-donnelly/
I received an advanced copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review. This novel follows Josephine (Jo) Montefort during the Victorian ages in New York City as women are still property to be traded to the highest bidder if you are in the upper class, or need to begin working at a very young age if you are in the lower/working class. Women are still seen as too delicate for most situations and second class citizens who MUST have an escort whenever going outside. But Jo is a woman out of her time. Although she is on the path as is expected of her, attending her good school until she is married off to long time childhood friend and very distinguished match, Bram, she is all of the sudden thrust into a situation that she could never have expected. A death in the family has occurred (I don't want to spoil it...) and it does not seem to entirely fit what she is being told. As she is running errands for her mother one day Jo finds herself at the newspaper office and hears chatter among some of the reports about those in her social circle and that is where Jo begins an adventure she never expected. This amazing Victorian murder mystery has many twists and turns and was VERY well researched (I do love the history of this time!). Many things kept me guessing, once or twice I BARELY figured things out before the author gave away the who's who and so forth, but nonetheless an amazing novel that just made me happy and I quite enjoyed it. If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes type murder mysteries then pick this novel up immediately!
Josephine, a young woman from an upper class family, finds herself swept into the much different world of the lower classes when her father dies and the mystery surrounding his death becomes too much for her to ignore. Along her journey for the truth, she finds out a bigger secret may be behind his death and the death of others. Will she find out the truth? And to what lengths will she go to uncover it? I have to say I chose this book because of the cover. Ive always been a book reader, but I always base my first interest in a book off the cover alone. So I chose this book and found myself swept into a mystery world of the past. This book was very well written and was full of history, action, and mystery. It really is a great book start to finish. I really enjoyed it. It was definitely worth the read!!...Stormi
New York. 1890. Jo Montfort wants her education and her life to mean something. She doesn't want to finish out her time at school only to get married. Jo dreams of following in the footsteps of Nellie Bly to become a famous reporter who can write articles to help make the world better. Jo's dreams, and her more prosaic future, become uncertain in the wake of her father's accidental death while cleaning his revolver. The only problem: Jo knows her father would never have been reckless enough to clean a loaded gun. With the help of an ambitious young reporter, Jo sets out to find the truth. In her search for the truth, Jo will dig up old secrets and shocking truths in These Shallows Graves (2015) by Jennifer Donnelly. These Shallow Graves is a standalone historical fiction novel. Donnelly's novel is well-researched and thorough bringing the world of 1890s New York to life around Jo's story with thoughtful details and historically accurate settings. The characters pale in comparison to these rich settings. Although Jo grows throughout These Shallow Graves, she remains painfully naive and idealistic to a fault. Her sensibilities are also decidedly (frustratingly) modern despite her upbringing in New York's Gilded Age. Jo remains a fun, very feminist, heroine in this story about a girl making her own way but it's impossible to wonder how likely such a story would be in the time period of the novel. Jo never quite operates comfortably within her time period and the story suffers a loss of credibility as a result. As a mystery (and a romance) These Shallow Graves works well but not, perhaps, as well as it could while certain motivations and events bear the scrutiny of a close reading better than others. These Shallow Graves is another fine historical mystery from Donnelly with the requisite doses of romance and suspense. Readers looking for an immersive read and a strong heroine will find much to recommend here. Possible Pairings: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman, A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey, Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman, A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee, Nobody's Secret by Michaela MacColl, These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas, Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White *A copy of this book was acquired from the publisher at BEA 2015 for review consideration*
First of all… THIS COVER!! Yes, I’m a bit obsessed with it. It’s beyond gorgeous and I can’t help myself… I just want to stare at it for days and days. So much love for this creepy, beautiful, eye-catching cover!! These Shallow Graves ended up on my doorstep, and with that gorgeous cover, how could I say no to reading it?! It just so happened I also had received the audiobook version from the publisher right before that, so that’s double the reason to read it! I was able to flip back and forth between the hardcover and audiobook depending on which I wanted to read at the current time. I love being able to do that! Historicals were never my thing before this year… but since I started venturing out into this genre a few months ago, I’ve found quite a few books that I’ve really enjoyed! These Shallow Graves was a bit aggravating at times simply because it IS a historical and the way they used to treat women and look down on them was tough to swallow. I can’t imagine what women that lived in the 19th century had to go through, but reading about it makes it sound pretty darn horrific. And that’s what makes Jo’s character even more appealing. Back when women were supposed to be meek and mild and basically speechless, we get to read about a character who’s feisty, has spunk, and isn’t afraid to break a few rules. I loved it! “Why is it, she wondered now, that boys get to do things and be things and girls only get to watch?” I loved the Victorian New York setting and this incredible cast of characters. I was so pleasantly surprised by this book. Yes, it’s on the longer side… but it never dragged on or felt extremely long. The pacing was pretty perfect and the story was engaging throughout. Another great historical read to add to my list for this year!! This is definitely one worth the read if you’re interested in a YA mystery set in older times with a very interesting story that will have you hooked. It wasn’t quite as creepy as I had expected, but it was still quite enjoyable. This is my first Jennifer Donnelly read, but it won’t be my last! Audiobook Impressions: I’ve found that when it comes to YA Historical, I really enjoy listening to the audio. Since this is a newer genre to me, hearing the characters brought to life brings this story to another level. With this one, I did switch back and forth between the audio and the hardcover. I found though that I preferred the audio over reading it myself, since Kim Bubbs, a fantastic narrator, took it all up a notch. I would definitely recommend going the audiobook route with this one! (Thanks to Random House Delacorte & Listening Library for the review copies!)
This historical mystery was a very enjoyable read. It contained just the right amount of suspense and history, and added a touch of romance. The author did a great job of relating the details of society at the time, so not only did we understand what Jo, the heroine, was facing as a young upper-class woman, but the reader also gained insight into the plight of the lower-classes in New York. The mystery built over time, with several spine-tingling moments and many harrowing and nail-biting events. The book was every so slightly dark, and the explanations of early forensic medicine were a great addition. I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it. A wonderful historical mystery. Two factors kept me from giving this book 5 stars. The first is that in the beginning, the romance feels a little rushed or forced. I did not pick up on the chemistry between Jo and her new love-interest. It moved from slight acquaintances to love just too fast. I also felt that many of the "clues" in the book were very obvious, to the point that I just wanted to yell at Jo, "Don't you get it?!" Without revealing any spoilers, the final climax was well-done, but many of the clues that brought the characters to that point were almost glaring. Some may feel that some aspects of the denouement were a little too convenient, but I personally felt that they were a nice touch and added to an "almost happy ending." Overall the things that I did not like about the book would not keep me from reading it again, or recommending it to others. This book was an exciting thriller that also taught me something about New York and it's people--a great book!
It is so rare when a book can actually surprise me. This book did just that, and I absolutely loved it. I didn’t even want to put this book down, I found myself reading it in every last second of my free time, and sometimes even in class. This book takes place in one of the most fabulous eras in the history of New York City. Before the time of celebrities, people focused on the lives of the rich, recounting their every move in the newspapers the next morning. Jo Montfort is among the privileged, but her world is flipped upside down when her father dies in a gun cleaning accident. Jo is whisked away from school to be with her mother and other family in their time of mourning. Jo has trouble believing that her father would ever make the mistake of cleaning a loaded gun, so she starts looking into his death. Along the way, she meets a reporter, Eddie, who agrees to help her out in her search. They come across many things that are shocking to Jo, and she sinks deeper and deeper into a world that she didn’t even know existed. Overall I felt that this book was extremely well written and had a great flow and pace to it. It didn’t feel too dragged out, and it also didn’t rush by. Not to mention a bunch of surprises at the end that made me quite happy with the book. It was most definitely not the typical ending that I imagined would end up coming. I give this book 5/5 stars, and I would most definitely read it again in the future.
“If you’re going to bury the past, bury it deep, girl. Shallow graves always give up their dead.” -Jackie Shaw Young Josephine “Jo” Montfort comes from a very wealthy and well-to-do family, but she dreams of journalism, a career she will never likely possess. She abides by 19th’s century society rules: plans to marry well and maintain her sterling reputation as a Montfort. But, Jo’s world falls apart when she learns her father, Charles Montfort, accidentally shoots himself while cleaning his loaded gun. Uncertainty immediately clouds her mind; she knows her dad would never clean a loaded gun, but she remembers, “The moment a girl learned how to talk, she was told not to”. Her family motto, “Fac quod faciendum est” (Do what must be done) reverberates in her mind, as she sets her sights on solving what really happened to her esteemed father. As she begins to risk her reputation, she sneaks out of her house at night, visiting the worst parts of New York City luckily in the company of reporter, Eddie Gallagher, whose unexpected arrival is welcomed. Eddie and Jo are thrown into a world of unanswered questions and even more mysterious circumstances surrounding Charles Montfort’s death. The clues lead them on a winding chase deep in the slums and around characters Jo’s not accustomed to, making unusual and unlikely life-long friends. Love and appreciation begin to blossom between Jo and Eddie, but will Jo resign her comfortable life with Bram Aldrich for a more blue collar role in society with Eddie? Don’t let the page count fool you, it read faster than a biographical 200 page book. Jennifer Donnelly brilliantly created this page-turning, thriller in the 19th century, which is quickly becoming my favorite fiction time period to read. These Shallow Graves is shrouded in secrets that grabbed my attention from page one. I immediately fell in love with Josephine Montfort and what she stands for: fighting for justice in a world where she had no voice. So under the blanket of stars she eventually finds the answers to why and how her father died. **** 4 Stars These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly 496 Pages Published October 27, 2015 by Delacorte Press Genre: Age 12 and up, Crime, Fiction, History, Mystery, Thriller, YA ISBN-13: 978-0385737654 *Disclaimer: This eBook was received through NetGalley and Penguin Random House for an honest review.
Thriller set in late-19th century New York A wealthy business man dies in mysterious circumstances – accident? suicide? murder? His daughter, destined to marry another wealthy son of New York’s finest families, would rather be doing something with her life and investigates her father’s demise along with the reporter of a local newspaper. This leads her to the murkier and unknown side of life in Manhattan. The writing is smooth, well-paced and engaging. The novel is enjoyable, aimed at the Young Adult market. Reminiscent of the pulp novels on the 40s (which I like!)