Book Review

These Shallow Graves – Jennifer Donnelly

these-shallow-graves-jennifer-donnellyDarkbriar Asylum for the Insane
New York City
November 29, 1890

Josephine Montford stared at the newly mounded grave in front of her and at the wooden cross marking on it. 

‘This is the one you’re after. Kinch,’ Flynn, the gravedigger, said, pointing at the name on the cross. ‘He died on Tuesday.’

Tuesday, Jo thought. Four days ago. Time enough for the rot to start. And the stink.”

Josephine Montfort has what every young lady in 1890 wants. She’s the only child of one of the cities most well known business men, she has an eligible bachelor after her hand in marriage and she knows that the comfortable life she should dream of is very much on the horizon. However she cant help but want more. 

When her father dies it shocks Jo to the core, she has questions and the answers she is being given don’t make sense to her. His death appears to be a tragic mistake but things don’t add up and theres a mysterious man watching her house. 

Jo goes on her own search for the truth, picking up handsome journalist Eddie Gallagher on the way, and soon discovers parts of the city are more dangerous than she could ever have believed, even the parts she was familiar with before. 

I love Jennifer Donnelly’s work, she’s an author I will always go to when I want a historical fiction fix  and she hasn’t disappointed in her latest novel.

This book has it all; murder, mystery and a steamy romance to boot. It covers both sides of society in a way that I haven’t seen covered before and it did well to cover the changes that were in place when it came to gender inequality in society at the time. Josephine knew that she should want what all the other girls in her social circle wanted but because of Nellie Bly and other girls she came across on her quest to find the truth she knew that that would never be enough. That time was a time of change, it was a time when women were breaking out of the expectations placed on them and doing what they wanted, they were disowned by their families for it but they were doing it. But as well as those women, in this book, you get the opinions of the older generation. Jo’s mother is of the generation who know that this have to change for women but cant bring about the change themselves, and Grandmamas generation is the one that sees women as breeders and nothing but male property. The whole book really relies on the changing times in society especially towards the end and its outcome was brilliant.

I really loved Josephine and her strength in this book, she was a brilliant main character. The other characters were interesting and I liked Eddie a lot, the way he broke through the boundaries in his life to build up to be who he wanted to be. Fay was an amazing character too and I really liked her but unfortunately I guessed her role in the story quite early on, along with Mad Mary’s. Even Bram, towards the end of the book, turned out to be an interesting character although he was stuck in the ways of the time. As it does, society shaped the lives of all of these characters so much and is such an important part of this book.

I really couldn’t recommend this book enough, everything in it covers the things I am interested in, feminism and breaking down the boundaries imposed upon people. The writing, as per usual from this author, was captivating and it really allows the reader to get to know the people in the book and the time it was set. There was mystery to uncover and it had twists and turns that I didn’t see coming which I think will really get under some readers skin and make them need to know what happened just like it did to me.

These Shallow Graves was published on October 27th by Hot Key Books. My copy was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.
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