Friday, November 18, 2016

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

genre: young adult historical fiction mystery

Jo Montfort is a model daughter on the outside.  Living among New York City's high society in the late 19th century, she goes to finishing school, never leaves home without a chaperone and answers questions just as a proper daughter should.  But on the inside, Jo is yearning for a bigger life - she wants to write, to investigate, to dig into the lives of those who don't have the privilege to live in Gramercy Park.  And then tragedy strikes and Jo's life is shattered - her father is killed in a horrible accident.  When the curious part of her brain cannot be stilled, the answer's to Jo's questions start leading her to even more dangerous questions.  Soon, she knows she can't stop until she has answers - even if they lead her into a past that might not stay safely buried.

I like Jo.  I like her spunk and I believe her struggles.  My problem is that I had the whole mystery figured out in the first third of the book and that bothers me on a personal level.  However, the writing is good and it has to mean something that even though I guessed what would happen that I still finished this not-short (nearly 500 page) book.  Some pieces were TOO coincidental but most of the smaller plot plots were intricate and I liked the contrast between Jo's Gramercy Park life and how the rest of New York lived at the time and the romance is believable.   I also liked learning about early post-mortem work and the beginnings of forensic science.  This book would appeal to young lovers of Downton Abbey or other books of turn of the century wealth and privilege in the big city.

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