These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly | Audiobook Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly | Audiobook ReviewThese Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
Narrator: Kim Bubbs
Length: 13 Hours 31 Minutes
Also by this author: A Northern Light, Revolution, Waterfire Saga, Book One: Deep Blue, A Crown of Wishes
Published by Random House Children's Books on October 27th 2015
Genres: Girls & Women, Young Adult
Pages: 496
Format: Audiobook, eARC
Source: Publisher
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From Jennifer Donnelly, the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of A Northern Light and Revolution, comes a mystery about dark secrets, dirty truths, and the lengths to which people will go for love and revenge. For fans of Elizabeth George and Libba Bray, These Shallow Graves is the story of how much a young woman is willing to risk and lose in order to find the truth.    Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.    Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort shot himself while cleaning his pistol. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was a partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.     The more Jo hears about her father’s death, the more something feels wrong. Suicide is the only logical explanation, and of course people have started talking, but Jo’s father would never have resorted to that. And then she meets Eddie—a young, smart, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. But now it might be too late to stop.     The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and this time the truth is the dirtiest part of all.
Early Praise for These Shallow Graves:
"These Shallow Graves delivered all that I adore: lovely prose, historical intrigue, unique chracters and setting. I devoured this book!"-Ruta Sepetys, New York Times bestselling author of Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy
"An intelligent, personable heroine-Jo Montfort's hopes for an enlightened future uncover a dark past, resulting in a splendidly hair-raising tour of the brightest and darkest corners of Victorian New York."-Elizabeth Wein, New York Times bestselling author of Code Name Verity and Black Dove, White Raven
"A fast-paced Gilded Age crime thriller that plunges its intrepid investigative-journalist heroine into the sordid underworld of nineteenth-century New York City and into her own family's dark secrets."-Julie Berry, award-winning author of All the Truth That's In Me
"Jo Montfort is a gutsy modern heroine in a beguiling tale of old New York. Money, murder, betrayal, and family secrets....I loved spending time in this world!"-Elizabeth Ross, author of William C. Morris Award finalist Belle Epoque
[STAR] "Fast-paced and thrilling...a smart, insightful, timely depiction of a young woman poised on the brink of a new world after the shattering of another."-Booklist, Starred
[STAR] "Action-packed chapters propel this compelling mystery...[and] the injustices Donnelly highlights remain all too relevant."-Publishers Weekly, Starred
"A beautifully written mystery."-School Library Journal"[A] fast-paced thriller...the story races to its surprising conclusion."-Kirkus Reviews
From the Hardcover edition.

Why Did I Listen To This Audiobook?

I am such a huge Jennifer Donnelly fangirl. Well, to an extent. I do not love those mermaid books, but I love her more mature young adult books and have had those Tea Rose books on my TBR for pretty much forever. When I came across These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly on netgalley I sort of screamed and did this jump up and immediate download thing because holler at auto-approval when it comes in handy for one of your favorite authors of all time ever.

Then, things got even better when the audiobook showed up via email thanks to Listening Library. I will say that I immediately jumped on that and put it right on my phone and started listening essentially as soon as my previous audiobook finished. Y’all, this was one of the better life choices that I have made. What a wonderful audiobook. I cannot speak highly enough of both book and audiobook.

What’s The Story Here?

Jennifer Donnelly’s These Shallow Graves opens up with main character Josephine Montfort and a few other characters exhuming a grave. That’s for a few pages, then we rewind back in time. Josephine is at Miss Sparkwell’s finishing school. She writes articles for the school newspaper even though they do not get published because they are not recipes or stories about cats. Instead, her articles are hard hitting and about the lower classes. You see, Jo is from the upper echelon of New York City. This book is set during the industrial era and her family is among those old blood industrial titans. Jo’s life is just about set. Her friend Bram Aldridge is fabulously wealthy and the two are all but engaged. Yet, this is all about to crumble down, because like many other women of this era, Jo lives within a gilded cage.

One day two of Jo’s friends – Bram included – visit her at school. She assumes it is because their father has died. She is wrong. It is her father who has died, when a gun he was cleaning accidentally discharged on his face. Jo then leaves school and goes to her Gramercy Park home. Feeling stiffled, she leaves the house on a pretense to deliver an inheritance to the editor of the newspaper her father owned. There, she hears reporters talking about his death but it turns out it wasn’t accident but suicide. Jo is not quite sure why her father would commit suicide and this horrifies her. So, anyways, she gives the editor the inheritance and goes home, but the news reporter, named Eddie, accompanies Jo as it might be dangerous for her. There, she questions him.

Long story short, Jo finds her father’s agenda and from what I remember, initials in it – EC, a woman, with a birthdate, so she begins digging into the circumstances of her father’s death. What she uncovers is a mystery that goes quite deep. Along the way, she makes friends with Eddie, Fay – a street urchin who is a pickpocket and actually the best, Tumbler, and more. She learns just how different life is outside Gramercy Park and a whole other side of New York. The truth, though, in regards to Jo’s father’s death just might set her free, as the adage goes.

What Did I Think Of Jo As A Character?

You guys the protagonist of Jennifer Donnelly’s These Shallow Graves is totally a character whose fan club I would be a card carrying member of. I loved Jo, despite her privilege. I loved that she was naive about things like hookers. Also, I loved that she genuinely cared about her lower class friends. I love that she has some hard decisions to make, but she stands by her choices, even at detriment. And I love that like a true reporter, it is the truth above all else that matters to her. Additionally, I loved her tenacity and her gumption. She reminded me a bit of Mattie, except I thought her ending was a bit more happy in spite of a few things. I just, I loved Jo and how tenacious these was.

How’s The Romance?

Heck yes the romance within These Shallow Graves is on fleek y’all. Okay, so there’s kind of a love triangle, but we all know which one Jo truly wants and which one we readers are rooting for. Donnelly has this beautiful way of capturing a first kiss and all of the longing behind it. She captures how hard it is to want something you think you can’t have. She adds some stakes to the romance as well – where there is sacrifice involved no matter what choice Jo makes. I thought this romance was just so well done and I was so completely invested.

What About The Writing Style?

I think other people were disappointed by those mermaid books, like I was. Rest assured this is a return to the Donnelly we love, the same writing style behind Revolution and A Northern Light. Her writing is to the point where if I was reading a physical copy, I would mark the pages for re-reading over and over. Her writing is simply lovely – cutting to some serious truths about femininity and gilded cages and privilege, but without beating you over the head with it. Also? She has a knack for bringing the past to life with These Shallow Graves.

How Is The Narration?

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly is narrated by Kim Bubbs. I’ve never heard of Bubbs, but you heard it here, get her on your radar. Her voice is perfect for this book. It is infused with emotion and upper class accent. She has a gift for pace and moving the book along perfectly. I loved listening to this book. Toward the end, when I was driving to the boyfriend’s house, I started to get heart palpitations because the narration and the book got so intense. This audiobook is the perfect meld of narrator and words and I completely recommend listening to this one if you get the chance.

Sum It Up With A GIF:

Lady Mary and I have the same feels about this book.


Jennifer Donnelly's These Shallow Graves opens up with main character Josephine Montfort exhuming a grave. Then we rewind back in time.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I love Donnelly too. Revolution is one of my favorite books EVER. But I didn’t like the mermaid books either. Hmmmm….. I’m looking forward to this one. It’s next on my list! Great review!

  2. The only other books of hers that I’ve read are the mermaid books, but I have heard very good things about her other YA.

  3. I LOVED Revolution and I vow to read more of Donnelly’s books in the future. Your review makes me shopping fingers buzz, April… Amazon is only a short click away(but I am currently on book buying rehab, in my mind at least 😉 ).


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