Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Review ~ These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly


These Shallow Graves
by Jennifer Donnelly 

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.

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These Shallow Graves is the first Jennifer Donnelly book that I have read and I enjoyed it tremendously.  The writing is brilliant and Ms. Donnelly kept me enthralled from the very first page.  From high society New York, to the normal everyday aspect of the common folk and the less desirable, the picture that the author painted from this period of time made this story even more enjoyable as I could visualize what the main character, Jo, dealt with in her quest to find her father’s killer. Jo’s character is a wonderful protagonist who is brave, passionate and full of energy.  It’s quite obvious that due to her upbringing she is a little naive which has her asking the awkward questions and at times landing her in some danger more than once. But this flaw is what makes her character endearing and made me root for her even more.  I loved all the other characters as well, especially Eddie, Oscar, and Fay.  This well-rounded cast made this spectacular story that much better.

For the most part, I can take or leave historical fiction but several aspects of the synopsis caught my attention and I knew that I had to read These Shallow Graves and once I did there was not one bit of disappointment.    It’s a very compelling, suspenseful, romance that kept me interested from the first page.  With characters that were engaging and a time period that I find captivating, this is one book that will appeal to not only young adults, but anyone who loves a good historical novel with a great mystery to solve and  a touch of romance that made it all that more fascinating.

With a clever plot and flawless pacing of events, this is a masterfully written novel that had me totally engrossed throughout not even realizing so much time had passed until the last page was turned.  I look forward to reading more from Jennifer Donnelly soon!

A special thanks to Random House Publishing for providing me with an ARC of this amazing book to read!

4 ½ stars

Jennifer Donnelly is the author of seven novels - 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.

Jennifer’s first novel, The Tea Rose, an epic historical novel set in London and New York in the late 19th century, was called “exquisite” by Booklist, “so much fun” by the Washington Post, a “guilty pleasure” by People and was named a Top Pick by the Romantic Times.

Her second novel, A Northern Light, set in the Adirondacks of 1906, against the backdrop of an infamous murder, won the Carnegie Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Borders Original Voices Award, and was named a Printz Honor book. Described as “rich and true” by The New York Times, the book was named to the Best Book lists of The Times (London), The Irish Times, The Financial Times, Publishers Weekly, Booklist and the School Library Journal.

Revolution was named a Best Book by Amazon, Kirkus, School Library Journal, and the Chicago Public Library, and was nominated for a Carnegie Medal. The audio edition was awarded an Odyssey Honor for Excellence.

In 2014, Jennifer teamed up with Disney to launch the bestselling Waterfire Saga, an epic series about six mermaids on a quest to rid the world of an ancient evil. The first book in the series, Deep Blue, was released in May, 2014; the second book, Rogue Wave, launched in January 2015.

Jennifer lives in New York's Hudson Valley with her husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs.