Publisher: Katherine Tegen
Release Date: January 26th 2016
Genres: Death & Dying, Fiction, Paranormal, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Young Adult
For fans of Holly Black and Nova Ren Suma, a gripping, hauntingly atmospheric novel about murder, revenge, and a world where monsters—human and otherwise—lurk at the fringes.
When seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave one year after her death, she doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. In life, Breezy was always drawn to the elegance of the universe and the mystery of the stars. Now she must set out to find answers and discover what is to become of her in the gritty, dangerous world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she finds is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.
Tense, complex, and wholly engaging, Shallow Graves is a stunning first novel from Kali Wallace.
As you might remember from my SWORD AND VERSE review, I was in a major reading slump a few days ago. Trying to read a high fantasy novel during that time was a challenge, so I started something else on the side. That something else was SHALLOW GRAVES, and it hooked me right from the first sentence.
“The first time I killed a man it was an accident.”
The pages flew by as the book teases you with its mystery-you want to find out what exactly is happening to the main character as soon as possible. For a near 400 page novel, SHALLOW GRAVES felt like a quick, short read. There were also bits of humor, which lightened up the (at times) dark subject matter.
Something incredibly refreshing, especially for the genre: there were barely (if any) hints of a romance. Actually, this book didn’t really explore interpersonal relationships much at all, but instead focused on Breezy’s internal reflections and how she reacted to the mysterious world around her. Another bonus, there was diversity and bisexuality, which was awesome to see in a YA, especially since it was weaved in seamlessly and not made a big deal of.
“I had never known this world existed. I hadn’t asked for any part of it.
I didn’t want it. But you can’t go back to not knowing something once
you’ve been thrown into the middle of it.”
One negative aspect to the book not focusing on character relationships was that none of the characters felt fully developed. They lacked depth and could have been fleshed out more; it was hard to form a connection or care about any of them besides Breezy, and even she felt distant.
It had been ages since I read a paranormal YA book, and this book made me appreciate the genre again. It introduced a new concept about life and death and meaning rather than boy meets girl but can’t be together because X. The world Wallace created fit well for a standalone, it was just right without being overwhelming or underdeveloped, although there is major potential for more due to the somewhat open (but satisfying) ending.
“There was a whole world out there to explore,
magic and monsters and a million inexplicable things…”
Overall, SHALLOW GRAVES was engrossing, mysterious and a tad creepy but just missed that extra oomph and lacked a clear overarching plot. I would definitely check out this author again though.