These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
Release date: October 27, 2015
An e-galley was provided by Random House Delacorte in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: 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.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Historical fiction is probably my favorite genre, but few YA novels of that genre are published and the ones that are are usually hit or miss for me. Well, These Shallow Graves fell a bit more in the middle.
On the one hand, it felt fairly unique. On the other, I felt like I'd seen most of its elements before in other stories. Jo's voice wasn't very unique (it sounded a lot like Sera's in Jennifer's book, Deep Blue), but I enjoyed her narrative. She, above all, wants to find out the truth about her father's death - and then resolve the mystery surrounding his death. Along the way, I felt like she made some pretty stupid choices. Some of those could be brushed off as teenager naivety; others were just downright idiotic. I'm kind of tired of YA heroines always making ridiculous choices. She jumped to conclusions so quickly, and I wanted her to use her head occasionally. I felt like Jo was supposed to be smart and wonderful, but I didn't see that much. She did show maturity sometimes, which was nice.
As for the plot, unfortunately, it took too many cliche turns (someone totally expected was in on the murder, and I wasn't surprised by much). The book opens with a flash-forward which I think was kind of unnecessary. These Shallow Graves ended rather nicely, I will admit. But overall the novel was much too long. I think there were definitely ways the plot could've been cut so it wouldn't have been such a struggle to make it through this one.
Lots of stuff with prostitutes, and there was talk of sex (although the characters often skirted around certain terms). I only caught one s-word, and other language was mild.
The Verdict: Good but...not good. I'd recommend this one for fans of Cinders & Sapphires and The Falconer.
Will I be adding this book to my library?: Possibly.