Saturday, September 12, 2015

ARC Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Title: These Shallow Graves

Author: Jennifer Donnelly

Rating: 5 Stars

Release Date: October 27th, 2015

These Shallow Graves is Jennifer Donnelly's third historical fiction novel for young adults and, like her previous two, I fell head-over-heels in love with it. Much like A Northern Light, Donnelly's latest features a curious, determined protagonist and a mystery whose secrets threaten the very lives of our characters. Moreover, it is littered with snippets of dialogue and scenarios which serve to distinguish the sharp line between women and men, particularly the hypocrisy and cruelty that kept women from attaining equal rights for so long.

I really, really love Donnelly's work, not only because it's well-written and entertaining, but because these are the types of novels I want young girls to read. I want them to open a book and find a heroine who is ambitious and driven, yet finds herself held back by society and still manages to push forward. I want them to read novels where men are supportive of a women's career and interests, even when most other men are not. I want them to find stories that entertain them but also teach them about the struggles women did have in the world and all the opportunities they have now--opportunities they should seize the way Jo Montfort seizes those before her.

These Shallow Graves has so much going for it, from its compelling murder mystery to its terrifying villain to its layers and layers of secrets. It has a slow-burn, swoon-worthy forbidden romance that will make you melt and a heroine who you can look up to. But more than that, it's a perfect snapshot of the lives of multiple women during this time period. Jo, our protagonist, is a wealthy young woman expected to marry well when her father suddenly commits suicide. While her uncle has it reported as an accident, Jo's curiosity and desire to become an investigative journalist propel her to uncover that her father was shot and murdered. While this leads her on a wild goose chase for the killer but it also brings her in contact with the dirty underbelly of the city, crawling with prostitutes whose eyes are dead, and Fay, a female thief who, despite not having family to tie her down, is nevertheless without freedom. A Donnelly novel stays with me long past its last page because of the themes it echoes, reverberating not only through the book but through my own life as well. I think all women can comprehend the situation these young girls are thrown in and the fact that we can still empathize with that, despite the progress we have made, is its own kind of sadness.

Nevertheless, there is much happy within this somber story as well, from Jo Montfort herself to Eddie Gallagher, the handsome journalist she meets and convinces to help assist her in solving this crime. Jo and Eddie are one of my favorite couples and their interactions are laced with a deeper understanding of one another which I truly appreciate. Moreover, their love story never takes away from the personal growth Jo experiences or the plot line but it is the cherry on top, which I appreciate.

These Shallow Graves is anything but shallow; a thought-provoking novel that pushes the boundaries of what YA is currently doing to what it could be constantly doing. Moreover, it's Jennifer Donnelly's latest book. It really needs no more endorsement than that.


  1. Wow girl, I've got like three of her books on my shelf, but still haven't read them. I will have to change that asap. I love books with that kind of heroin and topics. Amazing review, Keertana :)

  2. OMG I'm so glad you liked it!!
    I'll be starting it any day now and I was scared I wouldn't have loved it :D

  3. Eeek I'm so happy that Donnelly's third YA historical didn't disappoint you. Truth be told, I haven't read a book by Donnelly yet! ahh *hides* fortunately, THESE SHALLOW GRAVES is in my review pile, so I definitely will be picking it up, especially after your high-praise review. I've rarely stumbled across YA heroines who are as inspiring as Jo seems to be, so I'm excited to read about her myself and determine how I can look up to her. And the wild goose-chase sounds fun too! Thanks for the beautiful review, Keertana!

  4. I, too have enjoyed her YA books in the past, so I'm looking forward to this one. I wasn't at all interested in her mermaid series, but Revolution took my breath away. This sounds like another book to add to my Donnelly collection. Brilliant review, Keertana!

  5. Oh my gosh! I didn't realize Donnelly had another book coming out! I know how much you absolutely adore Donnelly's books (and rightly so, they're amazing!), so I am so glad to hear this one didn't disappoint you. It sounds incredible though - from the chilling murder mystery to the secrets to the villain. Definitely going to put this on my TBR list. Thanks for sharing this Keertana, and for letting me know this was coming out! Fabulous review, as always. ♥

  6. I'm usually not the biggest fan of historical fiction which is why I haven't read one of her books before, but I love that they have such strong feminist undertones and that they can be given freely to young girls. Maggie Stiefvater always has such praise for her which, in addition to yours, is more than good enough for me.

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  8. I am so happy you enjoyed this one as I have it coming for review. I haven't read a book by her but have wanted to try one. So glad that this has a feminist angle to it and I look forward to reading it. Brilly review!

  9. Oh good!!! I haven't read very many reviews for this Keertana, so I'm glad to see you loved it so much. I haven't read anything by Jennifer Donnelly before, so I'm looking forward to giving this a try. You always write the most beautiful reviews my friend:)

  10. I'm not usually one for historical novels I grant you that... But that cover, is gorgeous and so haunting too which really intrigues me. Plus I haven't actually read anything by this author so I must give it a go. Thanks for putting it on my radar, Keertana! :)

  11. all i have to say is me want, me want. me want

  12. I haven’t read anything by Jennifer Donnelly, mostly because Historical fiction is not my favorite genre. But you convinced me to give this book a try. Beautiful review, as always, Keertana!


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