Lets Go Explore The Dark Underbelly Of New York City - These Shallow Graves (ARC Review)

Monday, October 5, 2015

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Title: These Shallow Graves
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Release Date: October 27th 2015
Publisher: Random House

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“Set in gilded age New York, These Shallow Graves follows the story of Josephine Montfort, an American aristocrat. Jo lives a life of old-money ease. Not much is expected of her other than to look good and marry well. But when her father dies due to an accidental gunshot, the gilding on Jo’s world starts to tarnish. With the help of a handsome and brash reporter, and a young medical student who moonlights in the city morgue, Jo uncovers the truth behind her father’s death and learns that if you’re going to bury the past, you’d better bury it deep. ”

My Review

These Shallow Graves showed up on my radar because my coblogger (who weirdly enough goes by the name Jo as well) started talking about this book before BEA. Who doesn't like a Gilded Age book? So of course I had to read the book.

The book followed Josephine, a young rich girl whose life took a sudden depressing turn when her father was found dead by an accidental gunshot. The problem? Josephine knows there was no possible way her father would have cleaned a loaded weapon.

These Shallow Graves started out interesting enough. Jo was at school talking about the story she was going to write about the girls her age who were working in horrible conditions. She was going to be this great defender, even if only with words, of people. 

She made comments about the worker girls ending up pregnant with no promise of marriage. Jo seemed smart. Sure there were bound to be things that because of her upbringing that she couldn't possibly know, but there were a lot of times I wanted to shake the girl and ask her if she could possibly be that clueless. And why did everyone in her life insist on keeping her that clueless. I'm sorry but when her not understanding a social cue could possibly result in her assault or death, not telling her becomes a highly exasperating waste of plot.

Eddie was interesting. But as I am sitting here attempting to come up with words to describe him, and failing, I may have to admit he was a bit on the unremarkable side. I really love his drive to find his story. He made some decisions towards the end that I know some people might find fault with, but I'm actually quite proud that he continued to act within his character constraints and be true to himself. Yet, he never captured my interest. He just was.

I'm torn on the romance aspect of These Shallow Graves. There were points I really loved it. The two of them were pretty cute together. He was the right kind of man for her, someone who knows who he was and what he wanted. Someone who wouldn't let others push him into making decisions he that was against his heart. 

Other times, I didn't understand it. There were moments when I could easily see them falling in love with each other, but it was like we skipped some time and they were already there and confessing. For as long as this book was, we didn't need an instalove. I wish there was more showing why they liked one another.

The story itself was enjoyable, if a little predictable. I knew more about what was going on a lot sooner than any of our characters. So sometimes it felt as if we were going around and around on the same roads before we got somewhere. Yet, that did not dampen my enjoyment. I really loved crawling the streets of New York City looking for clues and suspects, all the while dodging someone out for revenge.

Words To Live By

"I did it because I wish to inform my readers. Because I wish to draw back the veil that hides the injustices that surround us. 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 know about them? And how can we know about them if no one writes about them? Is it so wrong to want to know?" (ARC 3%)

"Why is it that boys get to do things, and be things, and girls only get to watch?" (ARC 3%)

"Do what must be done." (ARC, repeated a few times)


Overall, These Shallow Graves was a cute story. It wasn't entirely what I wanted or what I was expecting, but it was a good read nonetheless. I'm glad I got the opportunity to read it.

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