Contagion by Joanne Dahme

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website:

Rose Dugan is a young and beautiful woman living in Philadelphia in the late 19th century passionate about keeping Philadelphia’s water reservoir clean and healthy. But when Rose starts receiving threatening letters, warning her to convince her husband to shut down his plans for a water filtration system or else, things take a turn for the worse. A conspicuous murder and butting heads cause Rose to search for the culprit, the truth, and a way to keep the people of Philadelphia safe from contagion in more ways than one.

Joanne Dahme's Contagion is one the best historical fiction books I've read in a long time. Deeply compelling, mysterious, and romantic, Contagion takes the reader back to 19th century Philadelphia where a scandal is just about to break out.

Contagion tells the story of Rose and Sean with alternating perspectives. To the untrained eye, Rose is a girl who seems to have it all- a rich husband, a life filled with riches, a best friend, and best of all, a cause to devote her time to. Though, underneath it all Rose's life isn't all that peachy. For one, her husband isn't nearly as great as he seems, instead he's coming home with another woman's perfume on him, and he treats Rose like she's his property. And when Rose begins to receive mysterious, scary letters and tragedy strikes, Rose's husband puts it off as nothing. But Rose knows there's more it. It must involve Philadelphia's much talked about water, so she recruits Sean, the sweet and kind local water plant owner, and soon they are on a mission to discover the culprit behind it all. Though, is she ready to find out the truth, especially when it may just contain her husband as well? Only time will tell in this page-turning of a read!

One of my favorite parts of Contagion was the setting. I thought Joanne did a fantastic job of setting the scene in a way that informed the reader of the different problems that faced Philadelphia and its water in the 19th century, as well as using it as a tool to compel the reader into becoming thoroughly immersed in the story at hand.

I also adored the characters. Rose is a strong and smart girl, even though I sometimes wanted to shake her on shoulders for believing all the lies and slander her husband told to her. Though, when taking in the time this story occurs, I understand why she wouldn't want to go against his word because it truly mean the end of everything for her, and it also helped that when it boiled down to it she rose to the task and discovered the truth behind it all. Another character I enjoyed in this story was Sean because he was also fearless and brave. He's a guy I would want on my side if something happened, so I was so glad when Rose brought him into it all, especially when their friendship began to develop into something grand and fun to read about.

Lastly, even though the plot of this was a bit predictable at times, it still kept me reading non-stop, because I couldn't want to see how everything ended. Would Rose and Sean get a chance of something more? Was Rose's husband really as evil as he seemed, and if so, would he face the punishment disturbed? And what really was causing all the death and destruction in Philly? The water or something even more sinister? Those were all questions constantly running in my head as the story progressed, and I have to say Joanne did a great job of answering them through her writing.

In all, if you're an avid fan of historical fiction or would just like to try something new, this is the book for you! Well written, compelling, and mysterious, Contagion is a book that will keep you up well into the night.

Grade: A-

Contagion is now out!

Source: Publicist at Running Press. Thanks Nicole!


  1. I haven't read a lot of reviews for this book, but it sounds like a really great YA historical fiction book. I have read a lot of book about 19th century, but not one them was in Philadelphia. ;)

  2. This has been in my TBR pile for awhile, I'm glad to see you enjoyed it! I liked the other book I read by Joanne (The Plague) so am looking forward to starting this one! Nice review :)

  3. Glad to hear that it was still enjoyable even though it was a bit predictable - sounds like a great historical read! Nice review :D


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