These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly – Review

serdtyuioJo 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 secretly 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 accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, 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. Only 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 the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

All it took was a two page prologue and I was hooked.

When I first read the synopsis for The Shallow Graves, I had high hopes. It sounded as though it would have some of my favourite things in a book.


  • Thriller– Check.
  • Romance – Check
  • New York – Check.

I was very happy to find that it checked of all those things and more.

I loved the immersive historical setting of this book. Jennifer Donnelly described a 1980’s New York that both enthralled and intimidated me. There was just enough description of the time period to create a picture of what it was like but it didn’t feel as though an overwhelming amount of information or facts had been dumped on me. It was simply really interesting to read about. All the rules surrounding women rights and what was expected of women at that time and the different lifestyles and classes fascinated me.

I instantly warmed to the cast of characters in this book, they were brilliant! Jo was strong willed, witty and smart, yet also vulnerable. She was torn between two worlds, the one in which she had always known and the one she knew she wanted. She wasn’t entirely ruled by her emotions or romance, she was strong in her own right and her own person. I also really liked Eddie’s character. Similarly to Jo, he was strong willed, smart, witty and vulnerable. I loved their relationship and the interaction between the two of them. I also really enjoyed Oscars character, he added a lovely balance of lightheartedness and honesty! I found the concept surrounding Fairy Fay and The Tailor so interesting, I would love to be able to read a whole book from their point of view and hear more of their story. The portrayal of strong women in These Shallow Graves was such a fantastic thing and something I think Jennifer Donnelly did very well.

Despite These Shallow Graves being over 500 pages long, thanks to its fast pace, it wasn’t intimidating in the slightest. I loved that the chapters were relatively short, it made it read very quickly. I think I ended up finishing it in around three sittings. Once I picked it up, it was almost impossible to put back down.

Admittedly, the story line was a little predictable and I guessed quite a few of the main plot points within a few chapters. Despite this, it didn’t take away from the enjoyment, as I was still left with questions and this book was a lot more than your classic ‘who done it’ mystery.

Lastly, I can’t not mention the last page, but I won’t say anything other than this – It was everything I love in an ending and everything I didn’t know know I loved.

4.5 stars!

8 thoughts on “These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly – Review

  1. I haven’t read any thrillers, but I definitely want to branch into this genre this year & These Shallow Graves actually sounds like an incredible read! Fast paced books with great characters = a very happy Ngoc xD And of course, a perfect ending doesn’t hurt either! <3

    1. I feel like These Shallow Graves would be a really good ‘starter’ thriller as there’s a lot more too it as well, rather than it being predominately a thriller!! <3

  2. Lovely review, Kate! I’m really glad to hear this lived up to you expectations and even surprised you. I have this lying on my TBR pile waiting to be picked up. To be honest, I don’t like thrillers but I’m still looking forward to picking it up anyway. The US cover is so beautiful; I love it!

    1. Thank you! 🙂 I would really recommend it. Especially if you’re not a big fan of thrillers as there’s so much more to it as well! I really hope you enjoy it. I would love to know what you think of it if/when you read it! 🙂

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