Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer DonnellyThese Shallow Graves
Jennifer Donnelly
Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

When news of Jo’s father’s sudden death rips her away from school, she returns home to her grieving family. Unable to accept the story that her father accidentally shot himself, she teams up with Eddie, a local reporter who worked for her father’s paper, to uncover the truth about his death. As each clue leads to more questions, Jo and Eddie quickly realize that the uncovering the truth could destroy everything her father once built. Jo also realizes she may be falling for the handsome reporter, but to surrender to her feelings would mean turning her back on her family.

I first fell in love with Donnelly’s writing in A Northern Light. More recently I’ve read the first three Waterfire Saga books, which are a lot lighter and geared for a bit of a younger audience. I enjoyed those books, too, but I have to say I’ve been craving the darker, more complex historical feel that first book contains, and These Shallow Graves absolutely delivered all that I hoped for and more.

The romance between Jo and Eddie had me flipping page after page. I loved the dynamics between them and also the way they each related to other characters in the story. I loved that the side characters had a lot of personality and many became significant to the story. Jo’s journey has a lot to do with answering the question of who’s valuable, and over and over Donnelly presents answers in the way these minor characters unexpectedly play significant roles in the way the story develops. I loved that message.

Readers looking for a murder-solving suspense, a taste of historical fiction, or a swoon-worthy romance will find these things and more in These Shallow Graves. If you liked A Northern Light, I suspect this one will be a sure win, too.

Language Content
Infrequent use of moderate profanity.

Sexual Content
Girls briefly discuss curiosity about sex – no details. Jo learns of the existence of brothels and briefly visits the parlor of one. She spends the night in the company of a man, but only sleeping occurs.

Spiritual Content
References to church attendance. A man claims regret over his past misdeeds causes him to have visions of Hell.

This book contains a lot of suspenseful and intense moments featuring bad, violent men, who don’t hesitate to harm women and children. The description are often brief, but so sinister.

One of the characters is a student of forensic medicine. He relates information about causes of death to Jo and Eddie. His descriptions can be a bit graphic.

Drug Content
Brief reference to morphine addiction. Several scenes take place in a bar or show characters drinking alcohol.

Waterfire Saga Giveaway

Don’t miss a chance to enter the giveaway for the first three books in the Waterfire Saga plus series-themed nail polish. Check it out here. (Giveaway ends 11/3/15)


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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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