I became a Jennifer Donnelly fan when I read her historical novel A Northern Light. Her latest young adult novel, These Shallow Graves, will be released on October 27. My advance reading copy, furnished by Net Galley, lived up to my expectations with an added layer of mystery that ranged from unsettling to terrifying. The stage is set in September 1890.
Born to a life of privilege, Jo Montfort could opt for a year of mourning after her father’s death, follow that year with a good marriage, and live a life of ease. Unwilling to accept the cover story of her father’s accidental death while cleaning his revolver or the subsequent suicide theory, she breaks tradition and mingles with a crowd she’s not supposed to even hear about in her upper class existence in order to find the truth.
As Jo becomes friends and receives help and friendship from these people considered to be riffraff by her peers, questions arise beginning with what constitutes true freedom. Is she actually any more free, penned in by society’s expectations, than the orphans who work for a New York version of Dicken’s Fagan?
Yet another question comes in how far she can trust her reporter companion and unacceptable love interest Eddie Gallagher.
An additional puzzle comes in the meaning of the uneasy warning, “If you’re going to bury the past, bury it deep, girl. Shallow graves always give up their dead.”
A good story, a fine romance, and a chilling mystery – what better place to find a few hours’ escape than in some shallow graves?