April Discussion: These Shallow Graves


That was something a little different! I really relished the murder mystery and the experience of Jo breaking out of the confines of her restrictive society. The juxtaposition of the high society life she had and the life she began to lead with Eddie was startling and really underlined how few options women had in those days. I know I’m way more grateful for the freedoms that I have now!

  • I totally thought it was Theakston who murdered her father. I mean, isn’t it always the butler?
  • The romance between Jo and Eddie was very realistically rendered. And Jo was such a typical teenage girl! “I saw him with another girl, instead of asking him about it, I’m going to get engaged to another man in a fit of pique. Whoops, that girl was his sister and now I feel like a fool.”
  • I loved all the gritty details of New York life in the late 19th century. Donnelly’s descriptions were so vivid, I felt like I was there.
  • The Tailor, though not a huge character, was certainly a convincingly drawn villain. The scenes with him made me quite anxious!
  • As Jo was telling her uncle about everything that she had discovered, I was quite concerned that she was going to end up in Darkbriar herself. And, lo and behold, I was right. There was no way that her uncle was going to just BELIEVE her (especially because WHOA he was the murderer). Donnelly did such a great job, too, of making me question everything up until that point: had Jo just made it up in the middle of a nervous breakdown? Why would Eddie and Oscar have said they never met her? Just to protect her, right? But maybe not! 
  • I love that Jo did her damndest to save herself. And that, when it came time, it wasn’t Eddie or Oscar or Bram or another man who saved her when her wits and wiles proved to be not quite enough. It was Fay. And then it was Jo herself who made the decision to come forward with the truth, to tear down her entire life, and start over. Freedom. It is the best thing.

What did you guys think? Did you guys enjoy this book as much as I did? It is my favorite that we have read so far, for sure. By far!

What should we read next month? 

April Discussion: These Shallow Graves

5 thoughts on “April Discussion: These Shallow Graves

  1. Valerie says:

    Yes, I really did enjoy this one and I agree, it is also my favourite of them all. Although, I thoroughly enjoyed Life in Outer Space. I liked Jo’s character even though she was a tad flaky at times. Her maid was awesome. As was Fay. I am not normally a lover of crime novels but the author did a great job of mixing the criminal part of the plot with aspects of historical fiction that, at times, made you sort of forget about the crime. I really thought Jo and Eddie would end up together in the end, and in a way, they did. I loved her choices; in the face of all that opposition, she just stayed true to who she was. It was quite refreshing.

    1. Yes, she was so dedicated to what she wanted and what she valued! I loved that, too. Those are the strongest characters: the ones whose choices all come directly from the pursuit of what they want. Jo knew she wanted freedom, she knew she wanted answers, and she knew she wanted to write. The only time she ever swayed from those things was when she thought it would benefit her family (which also made sense to me because it was clear from the beginning that family was of supreme importance to Jo). Her characterisation was very consistent and real.

    1. That one sounds really good! I will add it to the list for June’s book selection. Right now it looks like we are going to be reading A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab for May.

  2. Jeri says:

    Loved it. Great character development. I enjoyed Jo, she was spunky, yet true to the time frame the story is set in. The author did a good job of portraying what life was like in the 1890s for women of all social statuses. I found it humourous the way she portrayed the types of things that well-bred women shouldn’t know about, like brothels. I was pretty sure who most of the characters were early in the story, but Fay being Mad Mary’s daughter surprised me.
    I enjoyed that Jo was caught between what she wanted to do and be and the expectations of her imposed by her status in society. I felt it was very believable.
    I enjoyed Eddie and loved Oscar. The beginnings of forensic science was fascinating to me. Fay was very well portrayed and was a believable bad-ass.
    I enjoyed that the romance wasn’t a huge focus in the story. It was there, but as someone who doesn’t enjoy romance stories, I was able to ignore it as it didn’t overwhelm the mystery.

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