I received this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I have been a big fan of Jennifer Donnelly for years. A Northern Light is one of the best books that I have ever read. When I received the opportunity to read These Shallow Graves, I was very excited about the opportunity to return to the same historical era as A Northern Light.
Jo Montfort comes from a wealthy New York family. She is expected to maintain proper decorum at all times, marry a young man from an equally wealthy family, and devote her life to raising children and managing a household full of servants.
But Jo wants more than that. Jo wants to be a newspaper reporter. When her father accidentally shoots himself while cleaning his gun, Jo knows there is more to the story than what she has been told. As she searches for the truth, she becomes involved with Eddie, a young reporter. Eddie is not like any boy she has ever met, and even though he knows it is a bad idea, he is willing to take her to parts of the city that proper young ladies have no business going to. Jo quickly realizes that there might be more at stake than her reputation; her life might be in danger if she continues to pursue the truth about her father’s death.
These Shallow Graves was an amazing story. I enjoyed the rapport between Jo and Eddie; that they came from completely different worlds within the same city could have been a cliché, but Donnelly makes their friendship completely organic. Jo is often shocked by what she sees, and this only fuels her desire to tell the world about the plight of the less fortunate.
I also enjoyed the commentary from Eddie’s friend Oscar, who works as an assistant in the morgue. Oscar is fascinated by forensic science, which is a brand new field. Oscar’s supervisor doesn’t consider forensics to be reliable in determining the cause of death, but Oscar’s observations prove useful in Jo and Eddie’s investigation.
I would absolutely recommend These Shallow Graves. Donnelly takes the reader from glittering ballrooms to the most decrepit tenements in the city. Jo’s willingness to take risks is a little alarming at times, but it also demonstrates her fortitude and devotion to the truth. This book is intended for children in middle school and older, but I thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience. As the mother of three girls, I appreciate any books that feature strong female protagonists, and These Shallow Graves is one of my new favorites!