by Jennifer Donnelly
To be published on October 27, 2015
Source: ARC for review from publisher
Synopsis from Goodreads: Josephine Montfort, an American aristocrat, 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 take: Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution is one of my favorite YA books of all time, a story that blends past and present as it follows both Andie, a sullen young Brooklynite who's visiting her father in Paris, and Alexandrine, a young French girl caught up in the horrors of the French Revolution. I also read and enjoyed Donnelly's Printz-nominated YA historical A Northern Light. So my expectations for this were super-high.
To me, These Shallow Graves had a very different feel than Revolution -- it felt more like a mystery set in 1890 than a piece of historical fiction. But the blend does work well and if you're a fan of mysteries, of shows like Downton Abbey, and/or like your historical fiction on the lighter side, it's definitely a book you should check out.
I liked Jo as a protagonist. She's a sheltered rich girl living in New York City just before the turn of the century. Jo has to face the harsh realities of life when her father dies. When Jo decides that he's been murdered, she teams up with a young reporter to investigate and begins sneaking around the city at night.
I thought the mystery in this was well-constructed. The culprit was someone I suspected right away and then went back and forth on, but the story throws in a lot of red herrings and misdirection. The romance in this wasn't my favorite. Jo is practically engaged to a guy from her social circles and finds herself falling for Eddie, the reporter. While this didn't feel like a love triangle, the messiness of the situation still kept me from being 100% behind the romance.But there were some great characters, like an awkward young medical student and the girl he's crushing on. I think my favorite was Jo's grandmama, who reminded me of Mrs. Mingott in The Age of Innocence. And there were some great, suspenseful scenes at the end.
I'll be giving away a copy this Friday as part of Freebie Friday, so if you're interested in this, be sure to stop by!