Review: Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

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

Review: Shallow Graves by Kali WallaceShallow Graves by Kali Wallace
Published by Katherine Tegen on January 26, 2015
Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 360
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Breezy remembers leaving the party: the warm, wet grass under her feet, her cheek still stinging from a slap to her face. But when she wakes up, scared and pulling dirt from her mouth, a year has passed and she can’t explain how.

Nor can she explain the man lying at her grave, dead from her touch, or why her heartbeat comes and goes. 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.

Haunted by happy memories from her life, Breezy sets out to find answers in the gritty, threatening 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 discovers is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.

Shallow Graves was one of those impulse downloads on Edelweiss. You know, one of those books where you’re like hmm I don’t know if this is going to be good but whatever I’ve already downloaded 9 Harper ARCs so I might as well make it ten. Or maybe that’s just me. It’s because of that habit that I’m just starting February egalleys at the end of March but oh well. Why I’m such a greedy blogger with my auto-approval can be illustrated really well by Shallow Graves: I don’t know when/if I would have read this if I hadn’t downloaded that eARC ages ago, and that would have been a damn shame. Shallow Graves is fabulous, a paranormal unlike any others I’ve read, with a strong heroine, diversity, and this amazing creepy tone.

Often, paranormal for me is the genre that coulda been a contendah. Like, yeah, it made tons of money back in 2008-2012 or so, but, for the number of paranormal books in the world, it seems like an unreasonable percentage of them were all of my least favorite tropes. YA paranormal has some gems, but it’s also got a lot of my lowest ratings and biggest regrets. Now that the paranormal trend is over, though, some excellent ones are starting to appear, and they’re getting way less fanfare than they really deserve because the fad tired people the fuck out. Books like Croak, The Art of Wishing, Dark Star, and Shallow Graves are the sort of paranormal books I want. Also historical paranormal like These Vicious Masks, The Dark Days Club, and Something Strange and Deadly. This tangent just to say that, yeah, Shallow Graves is paranormal and I know you might be sick of that like ugh zombie romance no but this book really isn’t what you’re thinking.

First off, Shallow Graves isn’t really a romance. AND I LOVED IT ANYWAY. So yeah, take that for the massive praise it is. I mean, there’s ship potential in it for sure, and I do ship it quite a bit for some future date, but it’s not a story about romance and there’s no kissing, except in a flashback and that really didn’t end well. Breezy just rose from the dead, and she’s not really looking for a girlfriend or a boyfriend right now, thank you very much. Actually, Breezy’s still trying to figure out if there’s a way to put an end to her undead existence, so yeah kissing isn’t really what’s on her mind right now.

You might have noticed how dark that is. This book is MASSIVELY dark. Like, it starts with the line “The first time I killed a man it was an accident,” which really sets the tone for the whole book perfectly. Breezy wakes up from the dead  to find this man over her and just sort of pulls and then he’s dead and she has his memories of killing a family. She doesn’t know what she is or how long she’s been dead or why she’s alive or why she can now sense murderers or who killed her, though the bruises on her neck despite her new super-healing tell her she was strangled. Unable to go back to her family, Breezy decides to head west. She hitchhikes, because hey it’s not like she can die and maybe she can take out some creepy murderers on the way. Win/win, right?

So yeah, Shallow Graves is really dark. There’s a creepy cult thing and a lot of gore and murderers and ghouls who eat dead people and Mother and rape culture. Lots of unhappy painful ow my feels territory. Wallace’s writing is really such perfection. What she gets so fucking right is that voice, the tone of which is smart and funny but above all sort of hopeless. It’s amazing how she really makes Breezy sound so fucking done and like she’s given up without the book being boring. The tone is dark and speaks of grim things on the horizon, a sense of rising dread and doom. I’m really in love with it.

That said, Shallow Graves is also quite funny. I like my gloom and doom with a good dose of macabre humor to make the medicine go down, and that’s just how Wallace does things. I mean, Breezy at one point says that her undead existence “might all be worth it if dragons were real.” That’s my kind of book and character. Breezy, aside from her name, is my favorite. The amount that I care for her life and want to fucking destroy the guy that took her life from her is a lot. She had so many plans, smart and determined, and now, even though nothing can kill her, she’s so limited on what she can do because now she’s a fucking monster and not a human. A good monster, but a monster, which does sort of limit the job opportunities.

Speaking of, Wallace’s world building is SO cool. I love this world of paranormal creatures hidden within the real world, with us not noticing because we don’t expect to see these things. Those who do see are dismissed as insane. I also like that the monsters really are scary and monstrous, not that they are all horrible and deserving of death, but they’re not fluffy and shiny either. It’s sort of like The Others series by Anne Bishop or iZombie, where the paranormal isn’t softened to the point where it’s just a way to make a sexy love interest even more powerful and alluring.

If you haven’t read Shallow Graves, I casually throw it at your head because HEY YOU SHOULD.

Favorite Quote:

I was so fucking tired of men deciding whether or not I got to go on existing for another day.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif mostly dead princess bride

3 responses to “Review: Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace”

  1. SOLD. I’ll totally read this book now even though I keep confusing it with Jennifer Donnelly’s book which I loved.
    April Books & Wine recently posted…Vivian Divine Is Dead by Lauren Sabel | Book ReviewMy Profile

  2. Jessie says:

    OKAYY so we are twins! I also DL’d this on a whim because “eh why not” and then had a lot of fun reading it. I compared it to Supernatural meets Dexter because YESSSS dark book about a superatural killer killing OTHER supernatural killers.

    The spots of humor were my favorite and the line about the dragon was the best one and I also highlighted it XD I haven’t read the Others yet (thhough it seems like EVERYONE is reading or rereading that series lately) but your comparison is intriiiiiguing. Because iZombie is also clearly perfect and wonderful and also has Rahul Kohli. I may be digressing.

    also perfect gif usage.
    Jessie recently posted…Review: The Guardian by Jack WhyteMy Profile

  3. Roo says:

    Yes! So glad that you liked this so well. It is on my library wishlist. I do so love a clever suspense.
    Roo recently posted…March ReadingMy Profile

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