These Shallow Graves — Jennifer Donnelly.

Many thanks to Random House Childrens, via NetGalley, for letting me read this book in exchange for an honest review!

4/5 stars.

Whew. Okay, so this book was one of those that seems to have somewhat polarized reviews — loved it or hated it, but not much in between. I didn’t absolutely love it, but I really, really enjoyed it. However, I can understand why there would be such differences between reviews.

What I Liked:
– Jo was curious and didn’t let her status in society hold her back from investigating her father’s death.
– Some of the writing, especially about her social status compared to Eddie’s, was absolutely beautiful.
– There were a lot of elements of historical mysteries combined in this book that I loved (namely, a murder mystery combined with a conspiracy theory combined with missing people and a mysterious shipping cargo).
– I found myself getting caught up in the Eddie-Jo push-and-pull and thought it was pretty realistic.
– I liked the slightly fanciful touch of adding a Fagin-type person.
– I loved Fay. Probably hands-down my favorite character in the book.
– The ending. Oh my goodness the ending.

What I Didn’t Like
– Totally saw the last part of the ending coming — where Jo was labeled as insane and taken to Darkbriar Insane Asylum as a patient.
– The part of the plot that revolved around Jo’s love-and-love-not dilemma. (“Do I marry Bram and be unhappy or do I break it off with him and ruin myself and my family’s hopes for me by marrying Eddie?”)
– Jo’s naivete and the poverty/crime that she had no idea about (a bit overdone).
– Along with the point above, the complete and utter disregard that Jo’s high society class had for the poor (which I know is realistically part of the time period when the book takes place; I just got tired of it).
– I got tired of Anna, Jo’s mom, catering to Bram’s grandmama’s wishes. Along with that, I was confused regarding how Jo and Bram were related (or if they were) since it seemed as though Phillip was an uncle to both of them…? but that doesn’t really make sense.
– The discussions about marriage being all about “breeding and having the best blood.” Again, this view very much fits the time the book takes place, but is also — in my mind — more crude than an elderly woman in high society would speak (or perhaps not…).

I think what I liked outweighed what I didn’t, but that’s for me. Whether or not you’re willing to try this book is up to you. I would recommend it to pretty much anyone, though. It wasn’t terribly gory, and the mystery was really pretty solid. 🙂

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