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.
Publication Date: Oct 27, 2015
I received an advance reader edition of this book from Bonnier Publishing and Hot Key Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I don’t read historical fiction… I just don’t usually find historically based novels very compelling to read and yet this book was exactly that (after I got rid of my bias towards the genre which only took a chapter or two) and I could not put it down.
The way Donnelly presented the 19th Century New York was amazing, I had a huge case of wanderlust (maybe not to live there forever, but certainly to visit – considering the fact that I am partial to modern day technology and would find it difficult to adjust to the harsh conditions of the 19th Century) whilst reading, each setting was described perfectly, and only helped to develop the mystery in ways which were cleverly crafted – I was sold completely!
This was only added to by the brilliant characters, my favourites being Jo (duuhhh, she kicked so much butt it was impossible not to like her), Eddie, Oscar and Fay (for a similar reason to Jo). I found the message behind Jo’s character poignant, she was curious and determined in a patriarchal world and I thought that she was an amazing microcosm for the way in which women were treated and presented in those times, with their dreams being seen as frivolous and nonsensical and definitely not achievable – especially by a lady of the upper class of society who had a much different path laid out for her, bred to produce a strong bloodline and not much else… I was glad that Jo was enabled to explore her dream throughout the book and wished that others had received the same opportunity much earlier in history than it was made possible…
Whilst romance was a central theme of the novel, it played along well with other ideas such as friendship, and mystery which in my opinion were equally as important when it came to turning the clockworks of the plot.
The ending was heart-warming, I was so happy about the turn of events and glad for all the characters, because it truly was a happy ending, worth re-living, especially after the feels attack caused by the earlier chapters.I would definitely recommend this books to fans of mystery and historical novels with badass heroines and romance weaved in throughout. I will certainly be looking forward to reading this again, and looking at Donnelly’s other works.
My Rating: A strong 4.5/5 Stars
“The moment a girl learned how to talk, she was told not to.”