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.
“The first time I killed a man it was an accident.”
That was it. THIS was the moment I knew I’d love this book. The first line, the very first sentence of the book, and it was already an above average read for me. Shallow Graves is without a doubt the most unique book I have read in YA; not by its subject matter—although that is pretty new too—but by its genre. It’s YA Contemporary, but it’s also YA Fantasy and YA Mystery. The actual book covers a lot of fantasy elements, but there are more thrills and chills than you’d expect and because our main character is an adorable cinnamon roll who doesn’t know what she is, the book is also pretty much a big fat mystery. As you may have read in the synopsis, one day Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave, absolutely terrified. But here’s the thing—she wakes up a year after her death. But that’s not even the most interesting thing about the book. After “waking up,” Breezy realises that she can sense murderers among people. And she can make them pay.
Almost the first thing I noticed—and held on to—in the book was how much I loved Breezy, our MC. This girl was…honestly, she was something else all together. She was driven and smart after her “waking up,” but as you get to know her through the way she thought and her memories and her dreams in life, you realise that there so much more to this girl than just her unnatural state of being. For Breezy, the last thing she remembers is being human, being alive, having a family, two sisters…and now she knows she can’t go back to that life, and essentially, she has nothing. I was quite surprised by how sympathetic her entire situation made me feel towards her, and that too quite early on in the book. But hindsight is 20-20 and I’m pretty sure I would have loved this girl no matter what situation she was placed in.
The Shallow Graves universe has trippy rules, and that was part of the fun. There were a lot of characters that we meet along Breezy’s journey towards discovering the truth about herself—both human, and not-quite so. These people were also super creepy, by the way, which make this so much better! I found myself absolutely fascinated by some of them and here’s me, officially declaring that I’d love to see loads of spin-offs based on these people, because goddamn they were Just. That. Good. Especially Jake and Zeke. The book has quite an open ending so MAYBE we’ll get to see more Breezy…?
One other thing I’d like to talk about is how frigging amazingly Kali Wallace made me think and rage and think some more. With the circumstances surrounding Breezy’s death, the reader is introduced to a whole new read-between-the-lines situation. Shallow Graves deals with rape culture, and forcibly imposing ideology, and brings out a strong feminist character who is ready to be seen neither as a victim nor accept pity. And I loved to see that, because it is absolutely what I needed to read.
Kali Wallace’s debut is absolutely out-of-the-world and mind blowing. 2016 seems to be the year of amazing authors with their even more amazing books and dare I say, Shallow Graves ranks high up at the top! The writing is addictive and thrilling, and I’m sure most people who read it completely and going to frigging love it! I’ll just be here, waiting for more books in the series.
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Kali Wallace studied geology and geophysics before she decided she enjoyed inventing imaginary worlds as much as she liked researching the real one. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, F&SF, Asimov’s, Lightspeed Magazine, and Tor.com. Her first novel will be published by Katherine Tegen Books in 2016. She lives in southern California.
I WAS PROVIDED A FREE EARC OF THIS BOOK By Katherine Tegen Books through Edelweiss IN EXCHANGE OF AN HONEST REVIEW. THIS DID NOT IN ANY WAY, HOWEVER, INFLUENCE THE CONTENT OF THIS REVIEW.