Book Review: Shallow Graves
By: Kali Wallace
Published By: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Page Count: 368
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Paranormal
This was one of my last reads before I break out the holiday novels. I will certainly be rereading this one for Halloween in the future. I have been anxious to get to this one as the premise sounded spooky and intriguing. I don't read as many paranormal novels as I used to, but after spending time with so many supernatural tomes, I'm pretty picky. Shallow Graves lived up to my expectations and gave me chills.
Breezy Lin was on the cusp of her Senior year of high school when she's murdered on the way home from a party. Breezy convinces herself that she doesn't know what happened or why she woke up a year later in a shallow grave in the backyard of an abandoned house, but as the novel progresses Breezy's fate becomes clear. I was intrigued that I couldn't quite name what being Breezy had become when she clawed her way out of the grave to find that she wasn't truly alive nor was she truly dead. She's not a zombie, but she is a being that I haven't seen in a ton of stuff I've read. I won't spoil it for you, but there are a slew of supernatural beings in this one that were fascinating and felt unique compared to other novels.
Breezy soon learns a horrible gift that she now possesses. She can see death on people and know who has caused the death of another. She finds herself drawn to killers and in some sort of supernatural karma she occasionally kills the killers. She finds she can place her hands directly on their skin and pull at the essence of their humanity until the last breath leaves their lungs. In some ways, she reminded me of a paranormal Dexter. Breezy is a girl worth getting to know; I appreciated her courage and intellect.
On top of the mystery surrounding Breezy's current state and her untimely demise, there is a sinister supernatural plot running through this one. A minister has a horrible monster in his control that can fix "monsters". He is bent on finding as many supernatural beings as possible and ripping away what makes them beyond human. This segment of the story posed a lot of ethical and moral questions; it reminded me a lot of the prejudice that swirls throughout our society. I also thought it was important that Wallace raises concern around the way that teenage guys are often held to a different standard than teenage girls. This theme doesn't play a dominate role throughout the more supernatural elements of the novel, but I found it dominated my thinking in the final chapters and raises some valid points worth discussing.
Ultimately, Shallow Graves is a dark work of fiction that will have you thinking and looking over your shoulder. I have always enjoyed novels that make the supernatural seem plausible in our world. Unlike Harry Potter or Twilight, this is not a world I would want to live in, but I did enjoy watching Breezy's story unfold. Kali Wallace has a delivered a darkly delicious tale to get your blood pumping as the winter winds descend.
One Last Gripe: My only complaint with this one was the ending. It felt unfinished somehow.
Favorite Thing About This Book: I liked piecing together Breezy's story to figure out what happened on the night she died.
First Sentence: The first time I killed a man it was an accident.
Favorite Character: Breezy, but I was also a fan of Zeke
Least Favorite Character: Willow
For fans of Holly Black and Nova Ren Suma, a gripping, hauntingly atmospheric novel about murder, revenge, and a world where monsters—human and otherwise—lurk at the fringes.
When seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave one year after her death, she doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. In life, Breezy was always drawn to the elegance of the universe and the mystery of the stars. Now she must set out to find answers and discover what is to become of her in the gritty, dangerous world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she finds is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.
Tense, complex, and wholly engaging, Shallow Graves is a stunning first novel from Kali Wallace.