Book: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
Publisher: Random House Delacorte
Date Published: October 27th, 2015
Date Started: October 14th, 2015
Date Finished: October 28th, 2015
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.
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly was one of my favorite books back when I read it in 2012 or something like that. I loved the world building, the plot line, and I especially loved all the history that was interwoven throughout the story. When I saw that Jennifer Donnelly was writing another historical YA book, I knew I had to go get my hands on it right away.
I think my expectations for These Shallow Graves were a little too high, and the book essentially fell flat for me. I didn’t feel like the world building was as elaborate as Revolution, and in turn the characters didn’t have much depth to them either. There were parts when I wanted to hit Josephine, the main character, on the head because she was being so naive. For example, this stranger was essentially calling her a prostitute and she had no idea. It just went over her head. There were other times when she wasn’t figuring out the close and I just wanted to point her in the right direction so she would finally catch on.
The romance also fell flat for me, and to be quite honest, I don’t think the main characters were convinced either. They would go on being romantic and then go on to ignore each other for three weeks. I figured this romance aspect was added to showcase just how different the classes were and to also create a doomed lovers scenario. I just think with a situation like this, when the stakes are so high for both people, you gotta go big or go home. They just kinda stayed in the middle, so I found their declarations of love to be unbelievable.
The story overall was just too slow for me. I thought that things would pick up once it was revealed that there was a mystery to be solved, but instead it seemed like the story got slower. I found that the action did pick up at the very end, but I think it was a little late by then. I think another reason why I found the book to be a bit slow was the fact that I pretty much figured out the culprit from the beginning. I kept wanting the story to pick up its pace so that I could confirm my theory. And since my theory was correct, it didn’t really feel like a twist once it was revealed. There was another slight twist at the end that I did not see coming but it felt too insignificant to matter much to me.
I really wanted to like this book and I had some high expectations for it, but sadly, it just fell flat for me. I wanted to feel the history and wished there was faster pacing. Revolution still remains one of my favorite books though, and you can’t expect to love every book by your favorite authors.