Title: These Shallow Graves
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
First published October 27, 2015
482 pages, Hardcover
ISBN: 9780385737654 (ISBN10: 0385737653)
In the world of high society, Evangeline is set to marry into a wealthy family and live a life of luxury. However, her dreams lie elsewhere.
She yearns to be a doctor, to cure the sick and make a difference in the world. But when her brother dies unexpectedly, Evangeline’s world is turned upside down.
The circumstances of his death don’t add up, and she finds herself on a dangerous path to uncover the truth. With the help of a handsome and headstrong journalist, Evangeline delves deeper into the mystery surrounding her brother’s death, and the more she uncovers, the more she realizes how little she truly knew about her own family.
As she struggles to balance her desire for the truth with the safety of her loved ones, Evangeline learns that sometimes the most powerful weapon is the truth. But at what cost?
These Shallow Graves is a thrilling tale of love, loss, and the lengths one will go to uncover the truth.
About the Author
Jennifer Donnelly has authored thirteen novels, including Poisoned, Stepsister, Lost in a Book, and These Shallow Graves. She also co-authored Fatal Throne, which delves into the lives of King Henry VIII’s six wives.
Donnelly grew up in New York State and studied English Literature and European History at the University of Rochester. Her first novel, The Tea Rose, received rave reviews and was named a Top Pick by Romantic Times.
Her second novel, A Northern Light, won multiple awards, including the Carnegie Medal and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. TIME Magazine named it one of the 100 best young adult books of all time.
Donnelly’s other works have also received critical acclaim and recognition, with Revolution being named a Best Book by multiple publications and her Waterfire Saga series becoming a bestseller. In addition to her novels, Donnelly has also written a picture book for children called Humble Pie.
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly is a captivating historical mystery novel set in 1890s New York City. Donnelly is a best-selling author of young adult novels and has won numerous accolades for her work, including the Carnegie Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the PEN American Award.
The novel is a blend of mystery, romance, and social commentary, set against the backdrop of the Gilded Age when wealth and corruption ran rampant. The story follows Josephine Montfort, a 17-year-old society girl who dreams of becoming a journalist.
When her father, a wealthy newspaper magnate, dies suddenly in what appears to be a tragic accident, Jo is determined to uncover the truth. With the help of a handsome and enigmatic journalist named Eddie Gallagher and a cast of colorful characters, Jo delves into the seedy underbelly of New York City to untangle a web of secrets and lies.
Donnelly paints a vivid picture of New York City in the late 19th century, from the opulent mansions of the elite to the grimy tenement buildings of the poor. She weaves in plenty of historical details to bring the era to life, including references to the suffragist movement, the rise of organized crime, and the impact of emerging technologies like electricity and telephones.
The themes of class, gender, and power are explored with nuance and sensitivity, making the novel feel both timeless and timely. One of the strengths of These Shallow Graves is the richly drawn characters.
Jo is a strong-willed and independent protagonist who defies the expectations of her society, while Eddie is a charming and complex love interest who hides a troubled past. The supporting cast includes a diverse array of people from all walks of life, each with their own motivations and secrets.
Donnelly handles the romance subplot with subtlety and grace, avoiding cliches and letting the chemistry between Jo and Eddie develop naturally. The pacing of the novel is brisk, with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader engaged.
Donnelly does an excellent job of balancing the mystery plot with the character development and world-building, so that every chapter feels both satisfying and necessary. Overall, These Shallow Graves is a delightful and engrossing read that is sure to appeal to fans of historical fiction and mystery novels.
Donnelly’s writing is elegant and evocative, and she has created a memorable cast of characters that will stay with the reader long after the final page. While some readers may find the ending a bit predictable or formulaic, the journey to get there is well worth it.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in late 19th century American history or looking for a gripping mystery with a strong female lead. It would also make a great book club selection, as there is plenty of material for discussion and debate.
I would give These Shallow Graves a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, based on the quality of the writing, the strength of the characters, and the engaging plot.