by Jennifer Donnelly
To be published on October 27, 2015
Source: ARC for review from publisher
Synopsis from Goodreads: Josephine Montfort, an American aristocrat, 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.
My take: Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution is one of my favorite YA books of all time, a story that blends past and present as it follows both Andie, a sullen young Brooklynite who's visiting her father in Paris, and Alexandrine, a young French girl caught up in the horrors of the French Revolution. I also read and enjoyed Donnelly's Printz-nominated YA historical A Northern Light. So my expectations for this were super-high.
To me, These Shallow Graves had a very different feel than Revolution -- it felt more like a mystery set in 1890 than a piece of historical fiction. But the blend does work well and if you're a fan of mysteries, of shows like Downton Abbey, and/or like your historical fiction on the lighter side, it's definitely a book you should check out.
I liked Jo as a protagonist. She's a sheltered rich girl living in New York City just before the turn of the century. Jo has to face the harsh realities of life when her father dies. When Jo decides that he's been murdered, she teams up with a young reporter to investigate and begins sneaking around the city at night.
I thought the mystery in this was well-constructed. The culprit was someone I suspected right away and then went back and forth on, but the story throws in a lot of red herrings and misdirection. The romance in this wasn't my favorite. Jo is practically engaged to a guy from her social circles and finds herself falling for Eddie, the reporter. While this didn't feel like a love triangle, the messiness of the situation still kept me from being 100% behind the romance.But there were some great characters, like an awkward young medical student and the girl he's crushing on. I think my favorite was Jo's grandmama, who reminded me of Mrs. Mingott in The Age of Innocence. And there were some great, suspenseful scenes at the end.
I'll be giving away a copy this Friday as part of Freebie Friday, so if you're interested in this, be sure to stop by!
I love Revolution too. I love the historical and contemporary mix. I'm glad you weren't deterred by the love triangle in here, as it's one of the things that will turn me off a book for sure. Lovely review, Jen.ReplyDelete
It was more of an arranged marriage, so the set-up wasn't triangle-y, but some of Jo's behavior felt like classic YA "stuck in a love triangle" stuff....Delete
PS Revolution was just amazing!!
I just finished reading this and I've put up a review of it on my blog. Being my first Donnelly book, I had nothing to compare it to, but I LOVED it - more the characters and the setting than the actual mystery itself. I do agree, the culprit was kind of obvious for a while but red herrings seem to be Donnelly's speciality. On the contrary, I LOVED the romance and I shipped both Eddie and Jo so hard. And yes, Jo was a lovely protagonist. Awesome review, Jen :)ReplyDelete
Coming to check your review out!Delete
I wanted to ship Eddie and Jo, but there was stuff that put me off -- I hated the way she kept doubting him and then going back to her fiancé. And the whole thing about her seeing him with the girl and making assumptions was really cliche. But the romance aside, I did enjoy this a lot!
I've heard great things about Revolution. I bought it years ago, but I think I recently donated it in an attempt to clear my shelves. I'm sad I missed out on it now that I've read These Shallow Graves. I suspected the culprit as well, but I thought that the motive was revealed nicely!ReplyDelete
It's one of my favorites!!Delete
I was curious about this one, it definitely doesn't seem to fit neatly in any niche... I'll have to make time for it.ReplyDelete
You're right. Light historical mystery? Historical romantic suspense? I don't know what I'd call it...Delete
I am really loving historical mysteries right now, so I can't wait to read this one!ReplyDelete
Kate @ Ex Libris
Did you read Velvet Undercover? That had a very similar feel, so if you liked one, read the other!Delete
Jo sounds like a nice protag, and great to hear the mystery and light HF worked for youReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by!Delete
I have never actually read any of this author before, but I think I need to. This book sounds awesome!ReplyDelete
I'm a huge fan of hers. If you like historical fiction, try her earlier stuff, and if you are more of a romance person, then this one could be the one for you!Delete
I have been excited for this one for a while. I love a good mystery. Romances take a bit for me get on board with these days. They always seem unreal, messy, or forced to me. so I am okay with the romance being a bit off. glad to hear its a good mystery even if you pegged it early.ReplyDelete
The mystery was really the best part for me!Delete
Ahh, I'm really curious about this one (and I aDORE the cover and title) but I'm not the world's biggest Historical Fiction fan?! So I do wonder if this'd be the right book for me. But omg I'm too curious so I want to try it someday anyway. XDReplyDelete
Nice review, Jen! I have been eyeing this one for a while, so I'm glad to hear the protagonist and mystery were well done! I'm normally not someone who reads mysteries, but I'm really looking forward to this one! :)ReplyDelete
Sounds interesting, and I need to check out Revolution also :)ReplyDelete
I haven't read anything by this author before, but will definitely make a point to check out her writing. I've been reading quite a lot of historical YA at the moment, so this will fit right in. Lovely review, Jen!ReplyDelete