These Shallow Graves

These Shallow Graves

Book - 2015
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From Jennifer Donnelly, the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of A Northern Light and Revolution , comes a mystery about dark secrets, dirty truths, and the lengths to which people will go for love and revenge. For fans of Elizabeth George and Libba Bray, These Shallow Graves is the story of how much a young woman is willing to risk and lose in order to find the truth.

Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon--like all the girls in her class--she'll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo dreams of becoming a writer--a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo's life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort shot himself while cleaning his pistol. One of New York City's wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was a partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo hears about her father's death, the more something feels wrong. Suicide is the only logical explanation, and of course people have started talking, but Jo's father would never have resorted to that. And then she meets Eddie--a young, smart, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father's newspaper--and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. But now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and this time the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

Praise for These Shallow Graves :

" These Shallow Graves delivered all that I adore: lovely prose, historical intrigue, unique characters and setting . I devoured this book!"-Ruta Sepetys, New York Times bestselling author of Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy

" An intelligent, personable heroine -Jo Montfort's hopes for an enlightened future uncover a dark past, resulting in a splendidly hair-raising tour of the brightest and darkest corners of Victorian New York."-Elizabeth Wein, New York Times bestselling author of Code Name Verity and Black Dove, White Raven

" A fast-paced Gilded Age crime thriller that plunges its intrepid investigative-journalist heroine into the sordid underworld of nineteenth-century New York City and into her own family's dark secrets."-Julie Berry, award-winning author of All the Truth That's In Me

"Jo Montfort is a gutsy modern heroine in a beguiling tale of old New York . Money, murder, betrayal, and family secrets....I loved spending time in this world!"-Elizabeth Ross, author of William C. Morris Award finalist Belle Epoque

[ STAR ] "Fast-paced and thrilling... a smart, insightful, timely depiction of a young woman poised on the brink of a new world after the shattering of another."- Booklist , Starred

[ STAR ] " Action-packed chapters propel this compelling mystery ...[and] the injustices Donnelly highlights remain all too relevant."- Publishers Weekly , Starred

[ STAR ] "A riveting historical mystery-thriller...[that] succeeds as a wonderfully paced thriller, a heart-pounding romance and an unflinching look at the hard choices one young woman must make when society disparages her dreams."- Shelf Awareness , Starred

" A beautifully written mystery. "- School Library Journal

"[A] fast-paced thriller...the story races to its surprising conclusion ."- Kirkus Reviews

" A heroine you can't help cheering on. "- The Horn Book

Publisher: New York :, Delacorte Press,, ©2015.
ISBN: 9780385737654
Branch Call Number: YA DON


From Library Staff

A_Jeffery Dec 07, 2018

A wonderful mystery about a girl who wants to achieve much more than her station in life allows.

From the critics

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A_Jeffery Dec 07, 2018

A wonderful mystery about a girl who wants to achieve much more than her station in life allows.

Nov 23, 2017

I kind of want to cry tears of happiness because of how entertaining the story was, especially the way it ended. I loved how there was no angst in the murder mystery. There was tension and build-up, yes, but it was not overdone. Things didn't drag and I loved that Jo was a proactive heroine that made things happen rather than a reactive one who let things happen to her. I loved the chemistry between her and Eddie, obviously, and that it didn't go out of the sphere of reality and practicality. And finally, I loved the commentary on women's lives, the importance of having a choice and having the freedom to choose.

May 19, 2017

I enjoyed this book very much. I liked the fact that Jo didn’t quite get the happily ever after one might expect, but she did get what she wanted: Freedom. She gained a new life, and although she may not have gotten the boy, she seems, more or less, undeterred by that. She earned the independence she so strongly desired, and now she continues to learn to be independent in a world she never knew beyond the windows of her carriage.
- K

JCLAmandaW Jan 19, 2017

While this book took some time to really get my interest, the last third of the book really drew me in and the story finished strong. The characters were well developed and ended up being people you could care about. I enjoy historical fiction and while this one might not be the best in that genre, if you're interested in an intriguing story, you won't be disappointed with this book.

VaughanPLDonnalee Jan 08, 2017

While I enjoyed this as a mystery, I found it very disappointing as historical fiction. The protagonist spends so much time complaining about the restrictions on her life and behaving in a way that was completely atypical for a wealthy 1890's socialite, that in the end this resulted in a complete failure to capture any sense of what life was truly like in the 1890's at all. The heroine looks at every issue, every decision, and everybody around her through a completely modern filter and to me her constant judging and critiquing of her own world was unrealistic and disingenuous. I love historical fiction, but I found this one very hollow and phony. I did like it as a mystery, however. It had some good twists and turns, some genuinely spooky moments, and was enjoyable as a suspenseful page-turner.

ArapahoeLesley Nov 10, 2016

Certainly not as substantial as her adult reads, nevertheless These Shallow Graves has the same spirit. I picked this book solely on the cover and found an Age of Innocence/Lana Lane/ Sherlock Holmes period mystery that didn't so much keep me guessing but definitely kept me entertained.

spl_merley Oct 29, 2016

I really enjoyed this historical mystery set in 1870's New York city. It gives you a good sense of the divide between rich and poor in the period as well some of the social issues of the time. The title is a great metaphor for how the past can come back to haunt the present. What really captured me was Donnelly's courageous heroine breaking conventions to uncover the painful truth about her father's murder. Lots of twists, turns and danger with a doomed romance to boot.

An exciting mystery set in 1890's high society New York, filled with romance, family drama, and a kick butt female sleuth. Another great one by Jennifer Donnelly! Also, a great audiobook.

Jul 27, 2016

Josephine “Jo” Montfort, the main protagonist of “These Shallow Graves” is headstrong, brave, determined, and beyond average. She tries to balance a normal, upper class life and a scandalous life on the streets while trying to solve her father’s death. (An accident? Suicide? Or murder…?) She’s pressured to choose between marrying the man her family wants her to, Abraham Aldrich, or marrying for love, Eddie Gallagher.
Jennifer Donnelly puts her readers through a rush of emotions, having us trust the characters in one chapter and the next chapter wanting them dead, and vice versa. Set in the 1800’s, this fantastic book shows how the wealthiest of New York can fall hard with one scandalous rumour, and how women in that period could have a life, marriage, and job of their own choice. Long story short, this book was amazing and I couldn’t put it down. 9 out of 9 Muses.
- @Slytherin_of_Cabin7 of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

At the very beginning, it took a bit for me to get into this book. The plot throughout the book would qualify in between semi-decent and fairly good though! Personally, I just didn't like the ending as much, or any other books that end their stories off in the way that this one did. But I suppose it may be more historically accurate. The story of Josephine Montford, elegantly rich girl, and Ed, a typical newspaper article writer, takes place in a time when women were still overlooked. Perhaps this heroine is not one to be overlooked so easily, or not a bit at all. Anyone who likes a good mystery, history, and romance novel should try here! 4/5 stars.
- @Siri of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

Jul 10, 2016

This was a great book. The main character was headstrong and lovable- she was adorably naive about certain things, and her friendship with other female characters as well as just everyone around her made her seem almost like a friend to me. Her development was believable, and the romance was also charming. The story had me compelled and looking forward to what was coming next. A great read!

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May 19, 2017

BlacknWriteReviews thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

spl_merley Oct 29, 2016

spl_merley thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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Apr 13, 2017

“You, on the other hand, wish to know things. And no one can forgive a girl for that.”

Apr 13, 2017

“That was what people did when they wanted to stop a girl from doing something—they shamed her.”


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