Review: These Shallow Graves (My First YA Mystery, And 6 Reasons Why I Loved It!)

Thursday, October 22, 2015
these shallow graves cover hand wooden planks

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donelly
Publisher: Random House
Release date: Oct. 27th 2015
Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction
*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the eARC!*
I've never read a YA mystery before. I adore Agatha Christie, but I've kept well away from YA crime thrillers/ murder mysteries. I don't even know why. Maybe I was harbouring the belief that anything that is not Agatha Christie would let me down. Whatever my reasons, they were all very unfair preconceptions, and I'm happy to say that they are all smashed by this book! These Shallow Graves was an amazing read, and it was very compelling.

what's it about?

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.

what i loved

1. Jo was an amazing protagonist. She is the daughter of a rich aristocrat living in 19th century New York, but it was amazingly easy to identify with her! I loved her spunk and curiosity and her rebellious attitudes towards the social norms of that day and age. Her determination to be the exact opposite of what society expected her to be scored MAJOR points with me.

2. Eddie was fabulous. Chivalrous, sensitive, handsome with a tragic backstory, Eddie was utterly lovable,  and PERFECT for Jo.

3.The mystery. I was not blown away by the mystery and although I didn't figure out the perpetrator, the reveal didn't really shock me like an Agatha Christie novel would. But then, I spent every single chapter comparing it to all the Agatha Christie novels I've read, and it's kind of unfair to ask this book to live up to the standard of The Queen of Crime.

I'm being positive here, honestly! The mystery was really good, just not as mind-blowing as I would have liked. It's unfair of me to compare it with Agatha Christie, but I can't help it! Please forgive me, I really did like the mystery!

4. The romance. ALL THE FEELS. Jo and Eddie had SO much chemistry, and they are so obviously perfect for each other, AND THAT ENDING WAS WAY TOO OPEN. There is no love triangle. Sort of. We do have the childhood friend Bram, but Jo doesn't feel that way about him,  and their platonic relationship was actually very sweet.

5. The side characters. LOVE 'EM ALL! Oscar and Fay were absolute favourites, and you can't forget how sweet Bram could be! I love it when the supporting caste is diversified and well-rounded, and These Shallow Graves was one of those books that really nailed awesome side characters!

6. THE UNDERLYING FEMINIST THEMES!! I am ALL for gender equality. I come from an incredibly sexist country, and we're still to make more progress in gender equality. Feminism is considered to be "controversial", something that shouldn't be spoken about or outwardly supported. I'm a huge feminism advocate, and I love it when books portray these types of things.

Jo is extremely restricted by her cultural norms, but I love the way she breaks the stereotypes of dainty, well-bred high-society girls, despite nearly EVERYONE'S disapproval. I also adore the way Eddie doesn't judge her for it. I feel like pushing this book in everyone's faces and shouting, "SEE? THIS IS WHY WE NEED MORE BOOKS LIKE THIS!"


I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone with this book, but I am so completely glad that I did! I loved the characters, I loved the romance, I loved the mystery, I loved the historical settings. Really, there is nothing negative I can find to say about this book! Go read it!
four stars green

what about you

do you read mysteries? recommend some more good YA mysteries to me! i want to read more! don't you love it when a book has themes on subjects you're passionate about?! are you going to read These Shallow Graves? talk to me!

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