These Shallow Graves

9780307982919_p0_v1_s260x420First Lines: Josephine Montfort stared at the newly mounded grave in front of her and at the wooden cross marking it.  “This is the one you’re after.  Kinch,” Flynn, the gravedigger, said, pointing at the name on the cross.  “He died on Tuesday.”

We have successfully made it to the end of another week!  *throws confetti in the air*  I figured as a treat to you guys, I’d get another review up.  (My goal of catching up on these is not going very well.  Darn teaching.)

Jo’s life has been planned for her for as long as she can remember: graduate finishing school, land a handsome and rich man, and live the life of a wealthy heiress.  But that’s not Jo’s dream; she wants to be a writer, like Nellie Bly, and investigate some of New York City’s dark secrets.  Still, Jo’s life was going well until she received the news: her father, Charles Montfort, accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver.  Jo may not be an investigative reporter, but something sure smells fishy.  Her father was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.  The more Jo starts to dig into her father’s death, the more secrets she begins to unravel.  When she meets Eddie–a young reporter looking to make a name for himself–it becomes too clear how much she can lose if she keeps digging.  But it’s too late to stop.

I picked this up in part because one of my students–who is not a reader–was going gaga over it.  She got so excited when I said something about it and told me it was amazing.  Well, that alone was a selling point.

And it was pretty amazing.  Having just recently finished Libba Bray’s Lair of Dreams (which is also set in New York City, just 30 years after this book), I felt like I was really starting to understand New York.  Like when this book mentioned Mulberry Bend, my first reaction was, “Yikes.  Anywhere but there!”  (Mulberry Bend is a notorious slum, FYI.)

Anyway, the history as pretty spectacular.  There’s so much history here, and so much of it was just different!  There’s the obvious stuff like treatment of women in 1890, but also things about journalists Nellie Bly and Jacob Riis and some stuff about insane asylums of the time.  Which was a bit horrifying.

Jo is a great lead for this story.  She’s got many of the qualities valued for a well-to-do girl of the time.  But she’s a dreamer, and she wants to follow her own path rather than the one her family has laid out.  She’s also incredibly clever, sometimes more clever than the men in the story.  And it was really refreshing to see some of the men actually supporting her when she was clever instead of putting her down because they can’t deal with a woman being smarter than them.  (Ahem…some men still need to take note of this.  Like an ex-boyfriend of mine.)

And oh my gosh, was this supporting cast excellent.  Everyone from Eddie to Fay, Oscar, Bram, and even Sarah were totally worth it.  They were so much fun because each character has their own distinct personality.

I totally called the ending though, way before it happened.  That’s the only strike I have against this book.  I was probably about halfway through the book when I actually told someone else who had murdered Jo’s father.  But the good news is that even though I knew the ending, I still wanted to keep reading.  Even though I knew what happened, I didn’t always know why or how.  So I was still very invested in the story.

Totally worth the read.  I can see why my non-reader loved it.

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2 thoughts on “These Shallow Graves

    • I have not! The only other book I’ve read of hers is The Northern Light (I think that’s the right title) and that was ages ago. Revolution is currently sitting on my shelf, but I haven’t gotten to it! Are her adult books just as amazing?

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