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This witty, endearing book managed to entertain me with an intriguing story about murder, backstabbing, and overall grisliness, while engaging me with an interesting point of view on feminism in the late 1800’s. The characters were adorable, and the descriptions and writing were lavish enough to fit the time period, while not overpowering the plot. A+ all around.

…seriously, I’m obsessed with this. I’ve made bookmarks and everything. I blame Cait @ Paper Fury. The bookmarks are down below for free printing!

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Format & Pages: Kindle, 498 // Published: Oct. 27th, 2015

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Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort shot himself while cleaning his pistol. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was a partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo hears about her father’s death, the more something feels wrong. Suicide is the only logical explanation, and of course people have started talking, but Jo’s father would never have resorted to that. And then she meets Eddie—a young, smart, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. But now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and this time the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

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Jo Montfort was a delicious main charrie. She was full of surprises (and witty dialogue *sings praise*), but also had enough self-doubt to keep it realistic. I loved the way her private life tied in so greatly with her view on feminism, and how she managed to keep duping her family every time she left the house. “Oh, just some air, Mama.” *runs off to dig up graves with two boys*

Eddie Gallagher, the dashing reporter that she teamed up with to find out if her father really did kill himself, was… brilliant. Jo had a charming crush on him from the second she saw him, which, admittedly, I would’ve too, but he wasn’t overwhelmingly hot. In the sense that, when they were being chased in the middle of the night by psychotic killers, she wasn’t thinking about the way his “dreamy muscles rippled in the moonlight.” She was more worried about (A) how she’d get into her house and (B) what to do if the killers caught up with them. Which was… suprisingly refreshing.

My favorite character would have to be Oscar. He was a winning forensics student who examined bodies the police brought in (at the morgue). I usually get a bit squeamish around medical discussions, but he actually managed to make forensics come to life a bit for me. Apart from that, I think I might’ve liked him just because of his attention to food. He obviously understood me.

“So I say, eat, drink, and be merry. But especially eat.”

“Dead people always make me hungry. Once you’re in the ground, there’s no more noodle kugel for you.”


Jo’s and Eddie’s relationship was sweet. It started out with her following him around, asking questions, and him repeatedly telling her to go home. Which was rather sexist, I’ll admit, but the way she persuaded and showed him that she could handle whatever she needed to do was a great way to start the relationship. It made an equal and respected balance between them, which was really admirable.


I can’t talk about the plot much, seeing how it is a mystery, but I will say that I saw most of the plot twists coming. WHICH IS NOT A BAD THING. I usually suspected them only a page or two before they happened, which was actually really exciting. I kept holding my breath and reading furiously, wanting to know if I was right. The timing was well-paced and delivered the story with rolls and bounces that added an enigmatic, if a little dramatic, touch to the book.

Also, it was dark. Which is another good thing, because when I read mysteries, I want them to be dark and scary as fuck. What? is? the? point? otherwise? There was grave-robbing, an asylum, and plenty of murder to be had, which was fantastic.


This book was an amusing mess of romance and death, and I couldn’t have loved it more. I strongly urge everyone to read it. Even if you’re a bubbly, contemporary sort of person, you’ll be a fan. I promise. *prays that everyone reading this reads the book*



Print to your heart’s content. Let me know if you like them!


Jennifer Donnelly is the author of ten novels – These Shallow Graves, Sea Spell, Dark Tide, Rogue Wave, Deep Blue, Revolution, A Northern Light, The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose and The Wild Rose – and Humble Pie, a picture book for children. She grew up in New York State, in Lewis and Westchester counties, and attended the University of Rochester where she majored in English Literature and European History.

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Are you going to read this? Have you read it? What are your thoughts on YA mysteries? I don’t get into them much, but I think I might after reading this. Any recs for me?




  1. I’ve heard a ton of great things about this, so I am so glad you enjoyed it too Grace! I’m definitely going to give it a try. 🙂 As for thriller / mystery recommendations, one of my favorite mysteries is Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas. Thanks for sharing, and as always, fabulous review! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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