These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

24187925This is a spunky heroine/star-crossed lovers tale set in late 19th century NYC. Jo is rich and beautiful. Her heart’s desire, a reporter she meets while investigating her father’s death, is poor and handsome. Jo is torn between her feelings for the wrong man and what society and family expect of her.

The story is chock-full of romance tropes, mystery cliches, and skin-deep feminism. While competently written, the book is too long, and there is little unexpected here. The story is predictable from the “bad guy,” to the mystery, to the inevitable ending. Most annoying is the main character, who is supposed to be courageous and determined but comes off as immature, credulous, and self-involved.

Having read Donnelly’s beautifully written and elegant Revolution and raw, heart wrenching A Northern Light, perhaps I was expecting too much, but this hackneyed, uninspired tale was a disappointment. Three stars for readability and no major historical gaffs.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Delacorte
for the opportunity to read and review this title.