Book Talk: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Book Talk: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer DonnellyThese Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
Published by Delacorte Books For Young Readers on October 2015
Genres: YA Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!




Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”



Jo is part of NYC’s high society in the 1890’s and knows she’ll soon be done with finishing school and married off — even though she aspires to follow in the footsteps of a trailblazing female reporter hero of hers. And then her dad dies — it’s ruled an accident while cleaning a gun but Jo knows her dad would never have had an accident like that. When she hears something that confirms her hunch, she sets off with the help of a reporter named Eddie to find out the truth of her father’s death and sets off on a twisty path that will forever change her world.


I was begging for a good historical mystery and this happened to be my book club pick for the month (my pick but I picked it months before I was like OMG I NEED ALL THE MYSTERIES) and well a good historical mystery is what I got for sure.

First of all, it’s set in New York City in the late 1800’s! I thoroughly enjoyed that and loved wandering around the city with Jo as she looked into her father’s death and the mysterious circumstances around it. While I was loving the NYC setting, it was also interesting to see what life was like in The Gilded Age!

I legit could not have been a woman in the upper class society like Jo was. I mean, maybe I could have if I was born then who knows, but experiencing all the restrictions on her and what a woman’s ~role~ was in life being in 2016? SCREAAAAAAAM. I loved watching Jo try to fight those things and rebel a bit — though at times I did question if someone in her position really would have done some of the things so easily after living the life she has. But overall I loved that feisty nature that Jo showed and her desire to question her life and what she wanted out of it. I really enjoyed how These Shallow Graves explored things like that as well as life in upper class vs lower classes. Donnelly really nails the setting and the time period in this one which is a MUST for a good historical mystery for me. I NEED to feel like I’m there.

I also have to say that the romance in this one that I really loved — two characters from different social classes? YEP gimme. It was just woven into the story pretty seamlessly and kept me yearning for it but glad both of their eyes were still mostly on the prize aka finding out what happened. I think it was just so perfectly done!! View Spoiler »

The mystery itself was great and kept me on the edge of my seat. I randomly ended up reading it at the same time as my friend Carrie so we were messaging back and forth like madwomen because so much was happening. I totally guessed the ~who~ but it didn’t at all take away from the reveal or make me feel like it was predictable. There were still plenty of surprises revealed and it was no less shocking as I said when it was revealed. I was still all


Now for those who have read it….dudes we need to talk spoilers. View Spoiler »

a6RATING-reallylikedso close to the loved it rating!

factors+ the mystery, could not put it down, characters, writing, setting
–  honestly nothing really it was just so enjoyable and immersing

Should you read it? OH YES. Even if you don’t do mysteries a ton, I thought it was a good one that immerses you with a great setting and complex characters to go along with the mystery.

Should you buy it or borrow it? The book itself is gorgeous & looks great on the shelf (esp when next to her other books I have) but I’m weird about mysteries that I rarely read them twice so I typically borrow them. If you don’t have that same quirk then I say it’s a buy!

a5mystery lovers, people who love really solid historical settings with their mysteries, people who are looking for a suspenseful book that keeps you on the edge of your seat

a8These Shallow Graves was exactly the historical mystery that I wanted deep in a “I WANT ALL THE MYSTERIES” mood. The setting was so detailed and impressive and Jo was a wonderful heroine who broke down doors and social constructs to find out what happened to her father. I loved how she grew throughout the story through everything she encountered. I could NOT put it down and the mystery had that perfect amount of suspense and surprises I love.

review-on-post-itthese shallow graves review


a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
Any good historical mystery recs for me??



The Perpetual Page-Turner

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I’ve been looking for some mystery novels lately, hopefully I’ll pick this one up soon! Lovely review Jaime! 🙂

  2. I just placed a hold for this from my library, thank you. I’ve just finished Rae Carson’s excellent Walk on Earth a Stranger and I”m still in the mood for some good historical fiction.

    • Eee hope you like it!! You’ll have to let me know what you think! I haven’t read Walk on Earth A Stranger but I own it! Is it a historical fantasy or is it more historical fiction? I thought there were some fantasy elements in it but maybe I just THOUGHT that??

      • Thanks! There are some fantastical elements in Walk on Earth a Stranger, but they are very subtle. I felt it was very much more historical fiction than fantasy

        • Okay good to know! I think in my head I had it as more fantasy so this is good to know so I’m not like WHY IS THIS NOT FANTASY haha

  3. I really enjoyed this one too, although I found it a tad more predictable than you did. I had most of the mystery figured out fairly early on, including the part about the mother and child. I agree that I am not certain a girl of her class and her age could adapt quite as quickly and thoroughly as she did. In spite of its faults, I did enjoy reading it. You are correct. It is a gorgeous cover!

    • Yeah, I nailed down the WHO really quickly but man I must have not been reading carefully when it came to the mother and child because I didn’t see it coming! I think I was so caught up in my certainty about who did it that I forgot about that part lol

  4. Oh my goodness. This sounds absolutely delightful. I am definitely adding this to my TBR! Like you, I love a good historical mystery. Eeep! I wish I could go book shopping!

    • It’s definitely worth the read! The NYC setting was just soooo good to get lost in while racing around the city with Jo to find out what happened.

  5. 100% everything you said in your spoiler tags. Yes, yes, yes.

    I combined the audiobook and physical book because I couldn’t stop reading / listening. And the glares I gave people when they interrupted me. Did not happen twice! So much love for this story.

    • Oooh how was the audiobook?? And I bet that was sooo nice to be able to switch between. I need to do that more often. Do you have a hard time finding where you left off when you switch between? I always feel like I’d be like WHERE IS THE PART ON AUDIO THAT I GOT TO IN THE BOOK?!!? Or maybe I just complicate things. And boooo interrupting lol. Will is normally pretty good but the other day he kept starting convos and I’m like OMG STOP IT

  6. How very intriguing! I’m mighty curious about this one, particularly because it’s set in New York. I love reading novels set in New York, especially if they’re historical fiction. I may just have to check out this mystery for myself!