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Shallow Graves

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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.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published January 26, 2016

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About the author

Kali Wallace

26 books540 followers
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. She is the author of the dark, fantastical teen novels Shallow Graves (2016) and The Memory Trees (2017), as well as the middle grade fantasy adventure City of Islands (2018). Her first novel for adults, the sci fi horror SALVATION DAY, is forthcoming from Berkley. She lives in southern California.

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5 stars
678 (19%)
4 stars
1,227 (35%)
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1,061 (30%)
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89 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 759 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,945 reviews291k followers
February 2, 2016
I wasn’t a screaming captive being dragged into the darkness. I wasn’t pleading and begging. If that’s what she expected, she was going to be disappointed. I was here to meet her, one monster to another.

3 1/2 stars, tentatively rounded up.

Shallow Graves has a fantastic, creepy atmosphere and I loved the ending, but the second half (minus ending) pretty much necessitates a sequel that I'm not sure is coming.

A new paranormal YA novel always instills a mixture of curiosity and apprehension in me. I want it to be good, but I always brace myself for the standard snarky chosen one and at least two hot boys. Despite the familiar premise of a girl having new, supernatural powers, however, Shallow Graves is nothing like that. For the most part, it's a creepy horror story, filled with death and revenge.

It has an almost dark horror fairy tale vibe, rather than the lighthearted feel of typical YA urban fantasy. With some genuinely scary parts, this story is told by Breezy, who awoke in her grave one year after her death. She soon discovers that she has the ability to spot murderers - and take their life.

But, of course, things are not so simple. This is a dangerous world full of people who would love to get their hands on someone like her. People with dazzling smiles and offers of help. And, behind it all, there is the mysterious creature they call "Mother"... Who is she? Is she a monster? Or is Breezy the real monster of this tale?

Yes, this book is full of fear and suspense. You are afraid for Breezy and what will happen to her, a fact that kept me turning pages at lightning speed. On top of that, there is the occasional moment of humour to balance out the darkness, as well as diverse characters, sex-positivism, and a bisexual MC.

The ending (well, the bit slightly before the ending, really) is perfect. It is written beautifully, imagining the infinite possibilities of the universe with an important feminist message. I'm sure it will linger long after readers close the book.

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Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,401 reviews9,535 followers
March 13, 2016
MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List

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I loved the beginning of the book, but I thought for a minute when Breezy got caught up with some jerks in a cult that it was not going to be as good, but for me, that is not the case. I really hope the author decides to write a sequel to this book!

Breezy wakes up in a grave, clawing her way out and there is a dead man there who she killed, but why....



She can't figure out how she is alive, but not... She's not a zombie, what the hell is she? I know, but I'm not telling you :-)

She does this thing that I think is wonderful and I was hoping we were going to go on a crusade doing said thing.... BUT... Breezy gets caught up in this cult thinking she's just going to visit some nice folks that she can stay with for awhile.

A CULT WITH NICE PEOPLE ↓



Breezy does meet some interesting characters at this cult, some peeps that have different abilities like her. Some of these people are extremely evil and they get theirs, but there are some that want out. Oh and there is an evil thang out in the woods in the cave. Don't let anyone drag you out there!

My favorite person in the book is a person-ish boy named Zeke. She meets him through another person-ish girl named Rain. Zeke and his brother Jake are super nice, well they are sarcastic and stuff, but they are good people.. er.. yeah. I don't want to tell you what any of these people that are creatures really are, I want you to read the book and find out for yourself. :-)

--->EXCERPT<---

That threw me for a second. "You go to school?"
He made a face and kicked the fence again. "Jake makes me."
"You're a man-eating corpse-stealing creature of the night and your big brother makes you go to school." For some reason that felt like the most bizarre thing I had heard in a long time. "Does he check your homework too? God to teacher conferences? Sign field trip permission slips?"
"Yes," Zeke said. And after a beat: "The conferences never go very well. He picks fights with the teachers."


↑and no, you don't know what he is :-)

So the journey Breezy is on finally comes to a close. She misses her family, but she can't let them see her and she has to travel on and do what she does best. I think it's brilliant!



I love the cover of the book as well!

Profile Image for ♛Tash.
223 reviews211 followers
January 11, 2016


Imagine waking up in a shallow grave and the last thing you remember was dying.It is beyond creepy to think about breathing in the damp soil and much creepier still to think when you'll get the munchies for BRAINSSS. This is the compelling start of Shallow Graves, with our main character Breezy finding herself in a shallow grave a year after she was killed. With no memory of who or what killed her and what she'd become, Breezy begins her life after death by searching for answers.

In the tradition of David Mitchell, Scott Hawkins and Nova Ren Suma in making the readers go...
description
half the time, comes Shallow Graves. Yes, it is one of those novels that doesn't ease the reader into its world but plunges one in willy-nilly. Usually, I do not have any issues with this narrative as the payout in the end is worth the initial confusion, at least for all the novels I've read with this style of narrative. I wish that were the case with Shallow Graves.

First things first, the stuff I liked about Shallow Graves. It has an interesting premise and asks the most difficult questions about living vs. just existing. Wallace's writing is fine and good on her for squeezing a rape culture commentary in Shallow Graves. This particular quote is spot on: They write articles and have meetings warning teenage girls about the dangers of drinking and partying. Nobody writes articles telling teenage boys not to stalk ...girls who don’t like their stupid adolescent poetry.

So why the 2 stars? The only compelling part of this novel is the start. After the first few chapters it became a slog and this is owing to the fragmented world building.After Breezy rises her from her grave, she sees the world through brand new eyes. Eyes that see murderous guilt in inky shadows that people drag behind and other things human eyes miss.*spoilers ahead*

Then there's a cult dedicated to eradicating magic and territorial wars that could have been better detailed. The whole angle was quite vague despite playing a most pivotal role in the story. Now that I think about it, the story took a backseat for a whole lot of our main character's internalization.

Speaking of our main character, Breezy, she is quite interesting but not one that would stand out. Told in the first person, Breezy's voice is almost that of an adult not that of a seventeen year old. Maybe death gave her a totally different perspective,I don't know, but she's far too calm and accepting of her fate to be a teenager.

Shallow Graves is not a bad book,but it is forgettable. I do not recommend this if one is looking for a fresh take on urban fantasy.

*ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
-------------------------------------------
Dec 16
Yet another 2 star read.


FRTC
Profile Image for Paula M.
547 reviews643 followers
May 30, 2020
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Do you want a book that take a hold of your full attention from the first chapter until the end? Then Shallow Graves is for you. This novel is not at all what I expected. I was in a kind of roller coaster ride while I was reading the book. There were a lot of stuff that I really liked and made the book standout but there are certain things that left me confuse as well and it's making me demand for a sequel.


Breezy was a such a refreshing character.
I'm gonna be honest here, everytime I am about to read a fantasy/paranormal book, I tend to condition myself to be patient because I know there's a chance that I'll encounter a whiney and irritating heroine. Add a bunch (yes, a bunch) of hot boys that fights over the love interests affection, and there you go. That is where the story revolves. Thank the book gods the book wasn't like that, and most importantly, Breezy is not that kind of character. She will make you interested and curious. She's a great narrator and you will really find your self wrapped up in the story because of her mysterious voice. 

Speaking of mystery, that's what I really liked the most in this story. Shallow Graves is full of unresolved and thrilling events that will make you glued in to every page. I was torn between reading it slow because I'm really enjoying the atmosphere of the book and reading it fast so I can find out what happens next. The plot of Shallow Graves is not really something I usually read and I love Kalli Wallace's take on cults, monsters and other mythical creatures. She didn't stick to the cliché but instead, she made her own thing. I wished that I explored more of Breezy's world, that's why I can't help but ask for a follow up story. I feel there's still so much more that needs to be explained.

There's not much of a romance side in this book but you will hardly notice it because Breezy's adventures will take your mind off of it and honestly, I think a romance isn't necessary for this story anyway. I mean sure, I'm already shipping Breezy with someone (because I can't help it) but if ever the author makes a sequel, I'd be fine with whatever road she'll decide.

Shallow Graves will captivate you from the very start. You'll find yourself at the edge of your seat, biting your fingernails and turning the pages quickly because you want to find out answers. The atmosphere of the book is so impressive for it will really hypnotize you to read the book until the end. With Kalli Wallaces enthralling writing, Shallow Graves will surely linger in your mind for a long time!
Profile Image for Heidi Heilig.
Author 9 books1,314 followers
October 25, 2015
I picked this book up at around 11am sunday and had it read by 8am Monday.

The first line hooked me. Every subsequent line reeled me in. Part of the reason I couldn't put it down is that the ending of each chapter drew me on to the next--just one more, just one more.

Like that old short story about the elevator of the dead, but even creepier.



That's also what i found myself saying after I finished this book. Just one more, Wallace, one more story about Breezy, one more story about this world you've created. Just one more.

Maybe two.

Profile Image for Julie Eshbaugh.
Author 4 books494 followers
October 14, 2015
I was fortunate enough to read an ARC of SHALLOW GRAVES by Kali Wallace, and I'm excited to share my honest review. This book was all the things a horror story should be and more. Yes, it was chilling and full of tension, but it also asked hard questions about the nature of life and death and what it means to be human. The character of Breezy is someone you will care about and empathize with. Her voice is authentic, and despite the incredible nature of her situation, I was convinced one hundred percent of its truth. SHALLOW GRAVES unspools question after question, and then reels you in as it slowly unveils the answers. But then, this is a layered story, and not every question and answer it poses is right on the surface. SHALLOW GRAVES is chilling, addictive, and nuanced, and it has made me a true Kali Wallace fan.
Profile Image for Brittany Cavallaro.
Author 21 books2,892 followers
August 22, 2015
There is so much to say about this book.

First of all: the writing. It's so elegant and assured and smart but still feels, wholly, like a teenage girl's voice. Breezy Lin is angry, and calculating, and hurt, and a good friend who made some mistakes, and someone who misses her family who she can never see again. She wanted to be an astronaut, and some of the most beautiful passages in this book are about her mother's friend, Karen, a scientist who was Breezy's role model (and a first crush). I loved the smart, melancholy ideas in SHALLOW GRAVES about the universe and our places in it, and how something as seemingly small as a teenage girl's life is so incredibly important.

SHALLOW GRAVES is smart, tense, and heartbreaking. It's about rape culture, about power, about real female friendship and about the friends you make when we're backed into a corner. And it's a coming of age story about a girl who finally finds herself once she's already dead. I read this book, start to finish, leaking tears at the end, and I can say that Kali Wallace is an incredible writer and I can't wait to see what she'll do next.
Profile Image for S.M. Parker.
Author 3 books187 followers
August 23, 2015
From page one of this book (okay, seriously?—the FIRST LINE) I was ALL IN. There’s a girl. She’s back from the dead. She develops a new sense now that she's back. This newly acquired *ahem* talent and her very undeadness are the catalysts that force Breezy to examine good vs. evil; right vs. wrong; religion; femaleness; trust, and revenge. But Wallace manages to keep Breezy an authentic teenage girl as she navigates a new reality violent with these huge concepts.

Wallace is a gorgeous writer. Her descriptions rocked my world. Her careful use of language to describe the indescribable made my eyes and brain and soul hungry for the next line… then the next. This is literary horror at its best but it is definitely not light horror so be prepared for dark themes and scenes.

The tension in this book was a taut vine, twisting me into the story and never unraveling. I cannot wait to see what Kali Wallace writes next. I want it now, greedy girl that I am.
Also, this book wins the award for Best Named Character. I mean, come on. Breezy? As the lead in a horror tale? Brilliant.

Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
2,981 reviews363 followers
January 8, 2016
Shallow Graves was a read that I was really looking forward to sinking my teeth into. It sounded original, fun, and I loved the paranormal aspect the synopsis hinted at and couldn't wait to see if it was anywhere as good as it promised to be.

I wouldn't say I was disappointed with this read but I will say that it wasn't at all what I was expecting it to be.

In fact this was definitely a unique read in some ways and just simply strange in others. I never quite felt like I connected to the characters nor the storyline yet it was weirdly addicting.

The plot was a bit of a mess and things were explained but never in detail or even that well and yet I was still compelled to read on to see what would pop up next in the story and because most of all, I was truly hoping everything would make sense by the ending.

I wish I could say it all did but the fact is, it didn't and yet, I wasn't bothered too much by that, for some reason not having it all laid out, all out in the open, seemed to fit with the general feel of the story and somehow in a very unusual way, worked.

I honestly can’t say if I liked this read or not but I was a bit fascinated with it and like I mentioned, it was strangely addicting so I have to give that to the author if nothing else. More than anything this wasn't the read I was expecting but again, that isn't always a bad thing in this genre.


*ARC copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an hones review.*
Profile Image for Alexis Hall.
Author 50 books10.3k followers
Read
December 18, 2021
Oof. So this was dark. Startlingly dark, the way only YA/YA-adjacent things can be sometimes.

The premise here is that our teenage heroine—Breezy Lin—wakes up, uh, murdered? A year after she was murdered. Clawing her way out of her somewhat shallow grave. She’s dead, but still functioning, and definitely not a zombie. She also has vigilante powers: she’s unkillable, heals wounds, can tell when someone has killed someone, and kill them right back by some kind of soul-ripping type technique. This has the side effect of giving her memories of the killer’s killings. The book moves between the past and present in a somewhat fragmentary fashion—which gives a picaresque quality entirely at variance with the whole I’VE BEEN MURDERED AND NOW I DO MURDERING BACK AND PS I’M A TEENAGE GIRL WHO WANTED TO BE AN ASTRONAUT plot.

As I say: dark, man, dark.

But really good. I mean, really, really good. I read it in a sitting, captivated by its various mysteries (what happened to the heroine, what has the heroine become, what exactly is the setting here) and the heroine’s voice, which manages to be both vulnerable and delightfully snarky.

Case in point:

The biggest risk was the number of houses I sneaked into before I found a loaded weapon in somebody’s bedside drawer. I was trying to be undiscriminating in my search, but it turned out the middle-aged white guy with the pickup truck and the racist antigovernment bumper stickers did not responsibly lock his weapons in a safe. I was so shocked.


It's a really artful balance of dark and light, and not devoid of hope—although there’s no escaping the fact the heroine is, y’know, super dead. No longer human. And she can never go back to her family. The other thing I found super compelling was that it’s not always super clear what “kind” of story it is, I don’t mean in terms of tropes or genre, but it starts off feeling like one thing and before you know it you’re somewhere else entirely. For example, there’s multiple characters who could take the role of villain, and some of them are dealt with, some are more understandable than others, but ultimately this is about Breezy more than it is about people who would oppose her or, even, the person who murdered her. I can see the potential for frustration here but it mostly worked for me.

I will admit I could have done with a bit more closure and a few more answers: there’s definitely some resolution by the end, along with some answers to some questions, but it ends up being quite abstract. And I was interested enough in the characters, even the shady ones like Rain, that I wanted to know what happened to them. But I consider evoking that much curiosity a strength of the narrative. And clearly letting it go unsatisfied was a choice.

As well, as y’know, MURDER, themes of identity (including race and sexuality) and alienation are woven subtly through the story: the heroine is biracial and incidentally but explicitly bisexual. On the night she was murdered, she tried to kiss her (female) best friend, which went down very badly indeed. I appreciated the way this was handled: not at some great queer tragedy of unrequited love, but just as a kind natural part of mild adolescent fucking up. Similarly, Breezy references sexual relationship with boys—the beginnings of a reputation at school—none of which are defining or catastrophic. Again, just normal parts of life.

Anyway. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a horror-esque but wittily-told YA murder picaresque?
758 reviews2,351 followers
January 30, 2018
Aw man, this book was a dissapointment. I loved how the story started out, but as it progressed I was starting to lose interest. It was just meh.

description

The main character is a 17 year old walking corpse. Breezy is an Asian girl who is good at science and math. She's also bisexual, iliked Breezy though. She was smart, calm, thoughtful, and ambitious.

The beginning was so interesting and I found myself itching to read on, but as we read on it becomes confusing. The reader is being thrown into a world of crazy religious cults, monsters, magic, and just weird stuff with no explanation.

It's sad that this book is a stand alone because I feel like the author left so many questions unanswered. I would like a sequel.

Who was the man digging up Breezy's grave?
Who was the magician that made the mistake of making Breezy a walking corpse?
How was this magic discovered to bring monsters/creatures like Breezy into this world?
Who was the magician that bought Breezy back as the undead?
Who was Mother? I found her a bit confusing?
I would really like a better explanation for what happened at the end.

This was a cool book to read but just not my cup of tea.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
Author 3 books95 followers
August 16, 2015
I had the opportunity to read an ARC of SHALLOW GRAVES by Kali Wallace.

Wow. Wow, wow, wow! I would classify this book as literary horror, which is not a genre that I typically read. However, Kali Wallace has made me a believer. The book is scary yet hopeful. Full of dread yet beautifully written. And there was such great dark humor throughout.

I love books that make me think. This one 100 percent did. I need a book group to talk about it with. So nuanced and smart. And Breezy. Breezy Lin, the main character, was awesome. I plan on getting shirts made that say Team Breezy. I honestly really need a sequel to this book so I can follow along on more of Breezy's adventures (or misadventures or scary things that happen)

This world that Kali Wallace has created is amazing. So dimensional. So imaginative. I just kept turning the pages wanting to know what was going to happen next.

100 percent recommend! This was a fantastic book.
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,540 reviews33.9k followers
February 26, 2016
Loved the first half and the ending, but some of the threads feel underdeveloped and unresolved. The meandering style suits the book in the beginning, but the plot never solidifies as satisfactorily as you'd hope. Pity, since the ideas are so out of the ordinary, and the writing style so compelling.

Would love to read another book by this author though. Intriguing debut.

A bit more of a review to come.

3.5 stars, I think. Probably rounded up in stars.


Profile Image for Emily.
Author 14 books68.4k followers
September 22, 2015
This. Book. Is. So. Creepy.

Don't let that cover fool you--this is a good old-fashioned HORROR. The first chapter immediately grabbed and horrified me, and that feeling didn't really let up. There are things I want to say, but they seem like spoilers, even if they do become apparent in the first couple chapters, so instead I'll just say this: the concept is more interesting than the synopsis makes it seem, and the book is darker than the cover makes it seem.

Wallace puts you into the head of some seriously disturbing people. I was reminded, at times, of The Pusher character from Stephen King's Dark Tower series. The writing is excellent--clean and atmospheric--and story moves at a nice clip. Highly recommend for those not afraid of the dark.
Profile Image for Ashley Blake.
Author 12 books3,606 followers
November 13, 2015
This book was super unique and disturbing in all the best ways, an engrossing and humanizing ghost story.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,694 reviews701 followers
December 26, 2015
2 stars might be too high of a rating.

I was definitely intrigued by the premise. Zombies are my jam and mindfuckery is my favorite genre. This was not necessarily either of those things.

Breezy is an okay character. Her situation is the most interesting thing about her. I liked Zeke and Jake, even Rain was unique; however there was definitely something lacking.

The plot didn't seem to have a purpose. Things happened and there was conflict, but at the end I didn't feel like I had any answers. Or that anything had been resolved.

The last couple of chapters were pretty awesome, but overall, it seems like I missed something while reading.

**Huge thanks to Katherine Tegen Books and Edelweiss for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for Margot Harrison.
Author 5 books141 followers
November 21, 2015
A young girl walks along a desolate highway, thumbing a ride. She's in danger, right?

No. She is the danger.

I had high expectations for this book as soon as I heard the premise, because I'm a fan of horror in general, and literary or feminist horror in particular. It met those expectations and then some.

Though I'm calling it "horror," Shallow Graves doesn't fit any standard genre plot templates. Its heroine explores a shadow world of "monsters," magicians, and monster hunters, but it doesn't feel like an urban fantasy. The strangeness and loneliness of all these people (and the monsters ARE people, if not human) remain front and center. There's no overarching battle between good and evil in this universe, no metaphysical dimension — just various beings struggling with their own violent impulses, and sometimes losing.

So it's a genre novel, but also — in the themes and crisp, eloquent writing — a literary one. It reminded me of two of my favorite books from 2015, Bone Gap and The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, both of which use Grimm fairy tale motifs to tell coming-of-age stories with a strong feminist twist. Like the heroines of those books, Breezy experiences horrendous violence, but victimhood never defines her. I loved her funny, matter-of-fact voice and the use of flashbacks to convey all the anger and grief she can't let herself experience directly.

Of course, if you're a horror fan, you're thinking, "That's nice and all, but is it SCARY?" I have a high tolerance for fear-based entertainment, but there was one extended scene in this book that creeped me out and will stay with me for a while. (You know that story arc on Supernatural with Eve, the Mother of All Monsters who had to be summoned from the depths of Purgatory? You know how disappointing Eve was when she appeared? Well, imagine she wasn't disappointing. Imagine she was everything your fearful imagination could conjure and more. That's a vague hint of what to expect from this scene.)

I'm so glad I had a chance to read a copy of Shallow Graves as part of an ARC tour. I'd love to see more books set in this world (there's so much more to explore, and I adored the road-trip/Americana aspects). But for now I'll settle for telling all my fellow fans of thoughtful creepiness about this one.
Profile Image for Booknut 101.
849 reviews920 followers
February 7, 2016
**To view the original post click here!**

Book cover: If there ever was a book whose title and cover were a match-made-in-heaven, it would be Shallow Graves. Pair the title with a darkened sky and some circling birds, and you get an overall sense of unrest and foreboding that really ignites the imagination.

But the best part has to be the 'shallow grave' with the rose trapped amongst the tangled roots a.k.a the place where the roses from The Bachelor got to die. The symbolism is beautiful and a nice subtle touch, giving the cover a unique focal point.

Anybody else getting shivers?! The tagline is completely captivating and paired with that forlorn looking rose...magic!


Thoughts: You know an author's writing is good when you feel the uncontrollable urge to bookmark every second page. Which I totally did - after all, I have a weakness for creative wording and Shallow Graves is filled to the brim with magical phrases and word choices.

Here are a few of my favourites:

'The rain broke over us with shattering noise.'

'I didn’t tell him one true thing about myself. It was easier that way. I was a patchwork person, stolen scraps stitched together with the frailest threads. If he cared at all, he would have seen the lies for what they were.'

'The ghost had no face. It drifted in the breeze, like a tattered flag on a pole, but it gave no sign that it had heard me.'

'The awareness was overwhelming. In the darkness, surrounded by distant stars, there had been no time, but now I was counting the seconds with every breath and every heartbeat.'

But it was the final pages of this book that convinced me of Kali Wallace's story-writing magic. The only way I can describe them is this: it was like walking down a busy street and having someone's arm brush up against yours for a split second. You feel that contact - there's a mix of emotions and thoughts fly through your head - but when you turn to see who it was they're already disappeared into the crowd. You feel yourself drawn in one direction whilst your mystery arm-brusher is clearly headed in another.

Our protagonist walked with us on her journey through Shallow Graves, standing by our side and being our constant companion. But as the story draws to a close, you feel her shift - you feel her heading in a different direction as she puts the events of the book behind her to move forward. The feeling is bittersweet I totally teared up and needed to take a much-needed chocolate and tissues break! but I wouldn't change it for the world.

It was a unique and refreshing end to a spectacular book.
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,239 followers
April 18, 2017
A story involving murder, revenge, and monsters..yes, please! Kali Wallace has indeed made a lasting impression on me with Shallow Graves. It is a completely atmospheric, tension-laced, chilling novel that I just could not put down. I needed to know how Breezy died and what happened to her. Not to mention, what is going to happen to her?

“The first time I killed a man it was an accident.”

What an opening line! I mean..seriously. You’re left immediately wondering how many times have you killed then? Has it ever not been an accident? What is with this chick? This is just the start of everything. Breezy Lin has been dead for a year and wakes up in a shallow grave (5 ft long, 18 inches deep) with no memory of her death or how she got there. But somehow she is different than she was before. Other than the fact that she is dead, I mean. Breezy can tell when someone has killed. It doesn’t matter if they were never caught for the murder, feel bad about it, didn’t mean to do it, or anything. Breezy knows. She can also heal herself and cannot die again. Breezy just wants to know how she got this way, but that only leads her down a path in a world she apparently never really knew.

There are all sorts of places the novel goes that I wasn’t quite expecting, but enjoyed more than I expected. There are numerous murderers, plenty of monsters, a creepy cult that hunts monsters, and some fantastic horror scenes where you least expect it. The horror-buff in me was psyched. With a gorgeous cover like that, you might not expect the story to be as dark as it is, but I still think those who don’t typically read horror could still enjoy this book. The writing, characters, and world building are enough to make it worth the read.

Every turn this novel made, I would get that much more excited. There is a whole world of monsters that I found just as interesting as Breezy did. I want to know if the creatures I’ve heard of are real too. Even with this story concluding nicely as a standalone, I would love it if the author wrote another set in this world. There is much more to be explored.

If you are a fan of horror, urban fantasy, magical realism, or the tv show Supernatural, I highly recommend you read Shallow Graves. You’re in for a treat!

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review via edelweiss.
Profile Image for Brooks Benjamin.
Author 1 book151 followers
February 7, 2016
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Horror will always have a home in my heart. So when this ARC was up for grabs, I jumped at the chance to read it. It was going to be my very first YA horror. That being said, I went into this thinking it was going to be scary, sure. But that kind of scary that you tell around campfires--spooky, but safe, just enough to get a quick scream and then a laugh before everyone goes to their tents and dreams of S'mores and mosquitoes.

That was the kind of scary I was expecting.

The gentle kind.

But oh my God.

I was so wrong.

To make this as clear as possible, let me list the things that are scary, but not as scary as Kali Wallace's book.

1) Getting stuck in a crawl space.
2) Hearing a door close in your house, then remembering that you're home alone.
3) Spiders.
4) Seeing your pet growl at a completely empty corner of the room.
5) Walking down a sidewalk at night and always hearing footsteps right behind you.
6) Glancing in the rear-view mirror and seeing a stranger staring at you from the back seat.
7) Every Silent Hill game combined.
8) Grabbing the car door handle and feeling something furry move under your fingers.
9) The old dude from Poltergeist II.
10) Thinking you have leftover pizza, but remembering you ate it all.

All of things things are scary. They're so frightening that they're giving me chills just thinking about them. Yet they're still not as scary as Shallow Graves. So if you want a book that will suck you in, chew on your nerve endings, and not let go even after you close it...read this one. If you want a book with a voice that you'll immediately connect with...read this one. If you want a book that seamlessly blends issues of tolerance, fanaticism, and revenge with bone-tingling spookiness...read this one.

Just remember to thank the author for all the nightmares you'll have. :)
Profile Image for Sarah Ahiers.
Author 3 books374 followers
October 2, 2015
I can't stop thinking about this book!

Breezy Lin wakes up buried underground a year after she's been murdered. Alive-ish again, she can see and sense murderers, and when she touches them, she has a compulsion to use a new found power to end their lives.
Breezy can't go home because she's dead, so instead she begins to travel around the country, looking for answers, finding murderers everywhere and learning about what really makes someone a monster.

Shallow Graves starts off with a magical realism feel, which I love. Then about 1/3 of the way through there's a bit of a twist (not a twist in regards to plot, but in regards to world building, etc) At first I was unsure about this twist. I was really, really enjoying the sort of ambiguous magical realism vibe, but a little bit later I was completely over that. The twist was a amazing and wonderful and made me love the book even more, if that was even possible (also, it introduced my absolute two favorite characters, Jake and Zeke! I would read a book just about those brothers)

This book has a wonderful creepy vibe and feel that continues throughout the whole story. Breezy is creepy, her world is creepy, and she meets creepy people, some who are monsters on the outside and some who are monsters on the inside. And along the way Breezy finds answers, and more questions, and grieves and grows and moves on, perhaps in the only way a girl who is dead, can.

I was lucky enough to read this book as an arc in return for a fair review and I cannot wait to get my own copy so I can read this book again.

Highly recommend for fans of Nova Ren Suma or other magical realism, or fans of horror or dark urban fantasy like Brenna Yovanoff.
Profile Image for Colleen Fauchelle.
494 reviews59 followers
August 27, 2018
In the acknowledgments the Author, thanks her agent for taking a chance and believing in the stories everybody else said were too gruesome to be released into the wild.
Boy was she right about her story. This was to dark for me, not at all what I expected. I like ghost stories, But this was too much for me.
Ths story is about a girl who is murdered and wakes up a year later. We meet her at a truck stop, waiting for a ride, when a boy comes and gives her a information sheet about a house for people feeling lost like her, then some crazy stuff happens and I was tempted to put the book down. But the story settled down and we get flash backs about her life before and just after he dead/undead.

When I got to the end of the story, I now do not understand why she had to go through all of the yucky stuff. No this story was to dark and not nice.
Profile Image for Susana.
986 reviews242 followers
March 28, 2016

"The patchwork girl I had stitched together was gone. She had never existed at all.
She had been less real than the wisp of a shadow. There was only me."


The minute I started this, it was easy to see that the author wanted to hit all the "right" buttons with this story: moving it as far away as possible from the usual ya "tropes". Unfortunately, the execution is extremely flawed when compared with the awesome concept.

The main character Breezy _ yeah, the irony of a walking corpse with that sort of name _is Asian... but then that is only used to reinforce stereotypes. Like being good at maths and sciences. She's even short -_-
She is also bisexual, but it isn't as if that has any relevance in the story.

The worst thing, is that this story had so much potential, but then it just goes of track.

The beginning is haunting as hell, and extremely well done. Unfortunately, it doesn't take long for things to become extremely confusing: just when I thought this would follow the psycho crazy religious people route; this gets detoured and Breezy gets acquainted with a vast group of characters that would be right at home at Doc Xavier's Academy, if you know what I mean...

This needed a good editing, because being spooky and mysterious just wasn't enough for this tale.
We're reading a fiction book, not a philosophy assignment: answers are most definitely needed.

Yes, it isn't as if all good books deliver perfect responses to whatever has been happening in their stories: sometimes it is good to just imagine all the possibilities ( and yes, the author does try this approach). Unfortunately, that approach doesn't work with the way this was written.
There's a lot of messy chapters, characters walking on cemeteries without you having a clue how they got there...
But most importantly, there's too many unanswered questions about Breezy:
_Why was that man digging up her grave?
_Who told him she was there?
_ How where she able to rise from the dead?
_ Was a magician involved? If yes, who?

I am sorry, but this needed more. I needed more.
However I'll end by saying that this had such a cool concept, that I'll be on the lookout for the author's future works.
Profile Image for Jess at Such a Novel Idea.
597 reviews178 followers
January 29, 2016
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Check out the full review on Such a Novel Idea

“All of us, she said, all of us and all of everything that had ever existed and ever would exist, it was all made up of matter that formed in the very first moments of the universe, and it would all last until the very end.”

This book reminded me so much of The Lonely Bones that I knew there was no way I was going to pass it up. I first read the synopsis when Epic Reads released the cover and I was in definite covet mode. As soon as it was posted on Edelweiss, I was reading it. MONTHS ago (i.e. August), because I just had to dig in and get this under my skin.

“I didn’t tell him one true thing about myself. It was easier that way. I was a patchwork person, stolen scraps stitched together with the frailest threads.”

This book actually made me cry — by the end I had chill bumps and I was just kind of in awe of what had just communed. Breezy is a young girl full of life and ambition — who wakes up after being dead for a year in a (you guessed it) shallow grave. You don’t get the entire story in one meal, but rather the author gives you everything one bite at a time. The allusive being that Breezy has become as someone undead is full of masks and shadows. She’s reluctant to share her true self with anyone, even the reader. So we get to see her journey in the present, bifurcated with her past. You know that she was a girl going places… and you know that something terrible happened to cut her life short. But, you must work to get her story, just as it is in real life.

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

Like I said before, I immediately drew connections to The Lovely Bones. So imagine my surprise when the author took this book in a direction I wouldn’t have guessed. There’s a magical realism quality to this book that turns into another genre altogether. When we find out who (or what) Breezy is, I found myself saying, “OOOOOOH!” I even highlighted it, because… it just was such an interesting twist in the story.

Breezy is a fascinating person; both the before and after. I loved seeing her piece the two parts into something pretty amazing. She’s strong, and seeing her overcome the things that happened to her was such an empowering thing to read.

“I felt a pang of sadness that Harry Potter had been lying to me all along.”

This book is recommended for fans of Holly Black and Nova Ren Suma. I usually hate these comparisons, because EXPECTATIONS, but in this instance, it really worked for me. The haunting overture, the slow meander through the story, and the infinitesimal thoughts reminded me of the nuanced writing of Nova Ren Suma. I can see some people not enjoying this book. It meanders, twists, and winds… but eventually, it gets there. It all sort of comes together; these seemingly random pieces, to form something spectacular. The point isn’t the plot, the point is the discoveries that Breezy makes about her life before and after her death. And the beautiful words just make it all the more worth it.

“Every astronaut, every cosmonaut, all the women and men who have gone into space, they all say the same thing: they went up expecting to be awed by the moon and the sun and the stars, but what astonished them most was the earth.”“All of us, she said, all of us and all of everything that had ever existed and ever would exist, it was all made up of matter that formed in the very first moments of the universe, and it would all last until the very end.”

This book reminded me so much of The Lonely Bones that I knew there was no way I was going to pass it up. I first read the synopsis when Epic Reads released the cover and I was in definite covet mode. As soon as it was posted on Edelweiss, I was reading it. MONTHS ago (i.e. August), because I just had to dig in and get this under my skin.

“I didn’t tell him one true thing about myself. It was easier that way. I was a patchwork person, stolen scraps stitched together with the frailest threads.”

This book actually made me cry — by the end I had chill bumps and I was just kind of in awe of what had just communed. Breezy is a young girl full of life and ambition — who wakes up after being dead for a year in a (you guessed it) shallow grave. You don’t get the entire story in one meal, but rather the author gives you everything one bite at a time. The allusive being that Breezy has become as someone undead is full of masks and shadows. She’s reluctant to share her true self with anyone, even the reader. So we get to see her journey in the present, bifurcated with her past. You know that she was a girl going places… and you know that something terrible happened to cut her life short. But, you must work to get her story, just as it is in real life.

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

Like I said before, I immediately drew connections to The Lovely Bones. So imagine my surprise when the author took this book in a direction I wouldn’t have guessed. There’s a magical realism quality to this book that turns into another genre altogether. When we find out who (or what) Breezy is, I found myself saying, “OOOOOOH!” I even highlighted it, because… it just was such an interesting twist in the story.

Breezy is a fascinating person; both the before and after. I loved seeing her piece the two parts into something pretty amazing. She’s strong, and seeing her overcome the things that happened to her was such an empowering thing to read.

“I felt a pang of sadness that Harry Potter had been lying to me all along.”

This book is recommended for fans of Holly Black and Nova Ren Suma. I usually hate these comparisons, because EXPECTATIONS, but in this instance, it really worked for me. The haunting overture, the slow meander through the story, and the infinitesimal thoughts reminded me of the nuanced writing of Nova Ren Suma. I can see some people not enjoying this book. It meanders, twists, and winds… but eventually, it gets there. It all sort of comes together; these seemingly random pieces, to form something spectacular. The point isn’t the plot, the point is the discoveries that Breezy makes about her life before and after her death. And the beautiful words just make it all the more worth it.

“Every astronaut, every cosmonaut, all the women and men who have gone into space, they all say the same thing: they went up expecting to be awed by the moon and the sun and the stars, but what astonished them most was the earth.”


-------------------
Original Thoughts:

I'm literally shedding tears because of how good this book was.
Profile Image for Adriana Mather.
Author 6 books2,326 followers
October 3, 2015
Wowza. This book is delightfully creepy! Amazing imagination, fascinating characters, and good ole page-turning suspense. Legit. I stayed up super late reading this one.

Let me just say that I NEVER read horror, not since fourth grade when I traumatized myself with a book about an evil doll. So the fact that I devoured this book, and loved every minute of it places it securely in my "beyond rad" category.

I LOVED how surprising the plot was. I could not guess my way through it and every time I thought I figured something out, there was a new twist. And the writing is beauteous, smart and clear and thoroughly enjoyable. Kali Wallace has a life-long fan in me. Just, awesome.
Profile Image for Trisha.
4,608 reviews159 followers
February 29, 2016
What a fun little interesting mystery. Half parts fantasy, half parts mystery - this story had a unique twist that I think makes it stand out in the sea of other fantasy/paranormal genre.

I hope this becomes a Book 1 and we get another one. I would love to visit this interesting world again and see where next road takes us.
Profile Image for AH.
2,005 reviews370 followers
January 26, 2016
Update 1/26/16 Christal and I discuss this book on Badass Book Reviews. Check it out!

My Review:
This was an OK read for me. I liked the writing style, however the story bothered me because I had a lot of unanswered questions. For example, we are told that Breezy wakes up in her grave about a year after her death. As the story is told from Breezy's point of view, we are never really sure how it was possible that she was reanimated and what kind of creature she was. Then there are the monster hunters, a kind of evangelical missionary type who hunt monsters and try to "rehabilitate" them, usually not too successfully.

For the most part, Breezy was a likable character. She had a lot going for her before her untimely death. She was smart, focused on her future (she wanted to be an astronaut), and she had a wonderful family. For someone so young and who had been dead a year, she certainly understood that her new and undead situation was dire.

I felt that the world building in this book could have been expanded a little. When I read a book, I am looking for some resolution by the end of the book. In this book, I feel that there were too many unanswered questions.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Katherine Tegen Books for a review copy of this book.






Profile Image for Amber Smith.
Author 10 books1,198 followers
November 9, 2015
Dark, creepy, so scary. And the writing...unbelievably gorgeous! The scenes and descriptions were beautiful and terrifyingly real, painted with such rich, almost cinematic detail I could have kept on reading this book forever. I was hooked from the first page to the very last. The story was so complex, multilayered, and engaging that I was more than willing to suspend my disbelief in reanimated corpses, ghouls, and all otherworldly creatures in order to become fully immersed in Breezy's frightening, twisted new world.

It's a story that balances revenge with redemption, and ultimately, finds light in the face of the dark shadows that we all harbor. SHALLOW GRAVES is a brilliant debut from Kali Wallace (and one that I can only hope will be followed by a sequel). Highly recommended!

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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