5 Things about These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

December 27, 2015 Review 30 ★★★★

5 Things about These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Five Mile Press
Source: Publisher
Pages: 487
Release Date: November 2015
Genres: Historical, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Young Adult
Josephine Montfort is from one of New York's oldest, most respected, and wealthiest families. Like most well-off girls of the era her future looks set—after a finishing school education, she will be favourably married off to a handsome wealthy gentleman. But Jo wants a more meaningful and exciting life: she wants to be an investigative journalist like her heroine Nellie Bly.

But when Jo's father dies after an alleged accident, she begins to investigate his death with the help of a young reporter, Eddie Gallagher. It quickly becomes clear he was murdered, and in their race against time to discover the culprit and his motive, Jo and Eddie find themselves not only battling dark characters of the violent and gritty streets of New York, but also their growing feelings for each other.

I received this book for free from the source listed above in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


The writing captured me immediately

Historical novels are generally slow, that’s just they way they’re usually written. While THESE SHALLOW GRAVES didn’t break the mould, the writing style really drew me in. It helped that Jennifer Donnelly was great at ending every chapter with a little cliffhanger and instilling me with a desperate need to know more.



The characters had many interesting struggles

What I like about historical novels are the character struggles that come with the settings. In 1890s New York there are still separations of class and women were heavily restricted with what they could do. With the inclusion of many characters from different walks of life we got to experience a little bit of all of the struggles, though the restrictions of women were mostly explored (seeing as our MC is a young, wealthy female who has many of notions of the world challenged in various ways throughout the novel).  Jo with her ideals and aspirations was truly ahead of her time (she would have loved the freedom of modern times) and like to challenge society’s “rules”.

f the police

Even though I’m really happy with how the story wraps up, part of me would love to follow Jo through the rest of her life because I really think she’d become an incredibly inspirational figure.


Detailed mystery that is slowly uncovered

The core mystery of THESE SHALLOW GRAVES is very rich with many layers. With the book being 450 pages, I was a little worried about how much could go down and what other stuff was just meaningless crap. But everything is balanced beautifully. It’s not the most thrilling, edge of your seat mystery out there but it’s still highly entertaining with lots of character development and a sweet romance on the side to keep us all interested. I actually quite enjoyed the romance and almost wish the characters had been distracted by it just a little bit more… (who ever thought I would say my OTP were too focused on what they actually needed to be doing and not making out)



 The story was a little predictable at times

Me being the Awesome Skilled Genius that I am, I managed to predict the culprit from the start. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though because the satisfaction of being right is always nice.

I knew it

While I predicted the big who-done-it, there were a lot of smaller plot twists and scenes that truly did surprise me! These little plot twists were developments I valued a lot more than the big culprit reveal.


Talk science to me

GUYS, THERE’S ACCURATE SCIENCE/MEDICAL DESCRIPTIONS USED IN THIS NOVEL!! As a veterinary science student I really appreciated the use of the proper descriptions and science used to describe the bodies. Oscar became my favourite character because of all of this.

I'm a nerd

Normal people have no fear, it’s not intense science talk and Oscar does explain it all in a way that everyone can understand (in a way that is very comical and entertaining too).


THESE SHALLOW GRAVES was a nice, entertaining mystery and a lot more addictive than I first expected. I loved the historical setting and the characters. My favourite element of the entire novel though was the accurate science talk!

Rating Report
Overall: 4.2

30 Responses to “5 Things about These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly”

  1. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    Hmmm…I’ve heard about this one before but I didn’t pay it all that much attention. I didn’t even know it was a historical! I like historicals, especially mysterious ones :D Even though you guessed the culprit early on I still want to read this now! I’d guessed the culprit of Every Breath early on but it didn’t stop me from loving it! Thanks for making me pay attention to this one back haha!
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Fandom Mashups #33

    • Bec

      There is more to a mystery story than just the culprit so it’s still easy to love this despite my correct predictions!

      You’re welcome :D

  2. Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

    Ooh it sounds like you really enjoyed this one! I feel like the medical stuff might go a bit over my head, but I appreciate the authenticity. Ooh I love slowly revealed mysteries, it’s such an enticing way to keep readers interested. Ehhh I don’t like when books are predictable though… Lovely review!
    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books recently posted…2015 End of the Year Survey

    • Bec

      It’s done in a way so that even people without a science background will understand it (the main characters aren’t anyway medically inclined either so if they understand, most people can!).

      The major culprit was the only predictable bit. There were so many other moments that surprised me!

  3. ShootingStarsMag

    I seem to read mixed things about this one, but I’ve been excited to check it out since I first read an excerpt so I think I WILL give it a shot sometime soon…hopefully. Thanks for sharing; I’m glad you liked it, even if you DID guess the culprit. That can be fun though as I don’t usually guess right!
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Sunday Post (9): I Sprained My Knee

    • Bec

      Historical can be a bit hit and miss depending on the plot and the writing haha.

      I love science in books XD Especially when I actually know what’s going on.

    • Bec

      It’s probably not something most people pick up on haha. I just loved it because it revolved around things I’d actually learnt about this year which was great!

      The historical elements were really well developed!

    • Bec

      That’s interesting because I think I prefer the hardcover. It gives less away but it’s creepier XD

      This is the second time I’ve heard of mixed things about it. Most of what I’ve seen is great reviews… I probably just follow more people that like this type of novel.

      The scientific accuracy was so refreshing! Normally such things just aren’t included at all.

  4. Maya @ Suddenly Inundated

    I’m really glad you liked it! I have probobly read under 10 historical fictions in my entire life… its just not my thing :o I am however extremely pleased that you enjoyed this book with such intensity that I may consider it. However seeing all the books I am supposed to be reading, this may take years. Although I am fine with that, because that just means more books to read!
    Maya @ Suddenly Inundated recently posted…5 Things About Throne of Glass

    • Bec

      Historical is one of my favourite genres, though compared to fantasy I haven’t read that many. This could be your gateway book XD

  5. Cait @ Paper Fury

    Yay for the nerd life!! XD Actually, tbh, that’s a thing that ALWAYS makes me happy about books…when the author like goes into details about something and knows what they’re talking about, because it makes it so so soooo much more special to certain readers. SQUEE. Not that, um, I know anything about medicine or science. But. I want to read this book now. I BLAME YOU. (Or thank you?? Idek, it means the same right? XD)
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…42 Reactions While Reading Winter

    • Bec

      Nerf life is the best life. YES! I love knowing things and seeing how stuff I’ve recently learnt is applied. It makes me feel so smart.


    • Bec

      I’ve only read her the first book in her middle grade mermaid series which was okay. But I want to try more of her YA historical because if they’re as well done as These Shallow Graves was I’m missing out on something awesome!

  6. Lola

    This book sounds really good! I hadn’t heard of it before, but after reading your review I am really curious about it. I love it when a writing style draws me into the story and those little cliffhangers at the end of the chapter can be really great. The mystery sounds really well done! Great review!
    Lola recently posted…2015 New Release Challenge: 4rd quarterly recap

  7. Aila @ Happy Indulgence

    YAYYY I’m so glad you like this one! <3 These Shallow Graves was one of my fave historical reads for 2015, just the character development with Jo and the atmospheric setting. I really have to agree with how predictable the culprit was at the end, butttt I DID think that the steps it took to get to that conclusion were still filled with fun and mystery. :) And that romance – OMG I really wish there were more too. Like, the ending left you satisfied, but not TOO satisfied and ERGHKFDL;A. So many feels. Superb review Bec!
    Aila @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…2015 in Review & Blogging Highlights

    • Bec

      The character development was so good! YES! Even though the culprit was predictable, the way the mystery developed and how the characters uncovered the answers more than made up for it.

      Thanks :)

    • Bec

      Sometimes it’s nice to read a non-supernatural mystery because I read so many. And it reminds you how creepy people can be haha. The characters were amazing!

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