Publisher: Five Mile Press
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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!