These Shallow Graves

Written by Jennifer Donnelly
Review by Caroline Wilson

Set in Victorian New York, this story follows Jo Montfort as she longs to test the glittering restrictive world of her birth. As one of New York’s elite, she has been raised to marry the perfect gentleman and have babies; but what Jo really longs for is to pursue her love of journalism. Her world is rocked when her father is discovered dead, a supposed suicide. Not believing her father capable of such a thing, Jo teams up with newspaper reporter Eddie Gallagher to uncover the dark secrets lurking just out of sight. She will risk her heart and social oblivion to discover to the truths that threaten to challenge her perfectly planned existence.

Jennifer Donnelly truly excels at historical fiction, whether it be for adults or teens. While These Shallow Graves is geared towards young adults, it will intrigue adult readers as well. At first the heart of the mystery seems easily solved, but as Jo and Eddie continue to uncover pieces to the puzzle, the real truth becomes further obscured. Descriptions of Victorian New York really give the novel its flavor while the characterizations are equally wonderful. So many female protagonists in today’s historical fiction are not in sync with the realities of their time periods. Jo Montfort is very aware of her place in society and the constraints upon her as a woman. She is constantly barraged with who she is and how she should act, which reminds the reader of how life used to be. But Jo is wonderfully smart and courageous, and though she challenges the establishment, she does it with grace and deportment.

Another excellent read from Donnelly, this novel should not be missed. Highly recommended.