This week’s Biblioshelf Musings are about The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl. This book had me sold at ancient fairytale curses and an elite school setting so I was thrilled when my ARC request was accepted! It’s put me right in the mood for this spooky Halloween season!
Huge thanks to NetGalley, Laura Pohl and the publishers SourceBooks Fire for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC in exchange for this honest review.
Book: The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl
Genre: Teens and YA / LGBTQIA+
Publication Date: October 26th 2021 (UK release: November 26th 2021)
Publisher: SourceBooks Fire
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Once Upon a Time meets Pretty little liars.
Four troubled friends, One murdered girl… and a dark fate that may leave them all doomed.
After the mysterious death of their best friend, Ella, Yuki, and Rory are the talk of their elite school, Grimrose Académie. The police ruled it a suicide, but the trio are determined to find out what really happened.
When Nani Eszes arrives as their newest roommate, it sets into motion a series of events they couldn’t have imagined. As the girls retrace their friend’s last steps, they uncover dark secrets about themselves and their destinies, discovering they’re all cursed to repeat the brutal and gruesome endings to their stories until they can break the cycle.
This contemporary take on classic fairytales reimagines heroines as friends attending the same school. While investigating the murder of their best friend, they uncover connections to their ancient fairytale curses and attempt to forge their own fate before it’s too late.
My university dissertation was based around fairytales so I absolutely jumped at the chance to be able to review this book straight from the mention of ancient fairytale curses. The Grimrose Girls is a fast-paced adventure set in a highly prestigious boarding school; it gave me all of the dark academia vibes and its links to some of the more ancient, classic fairytales gave this story a powerfully dark and gripping atmosphere.
For me, the best thing I loved about The Grimrose Girls was that Laura Pohl sort to showcase the original fairytale stories in all of their dark, twisted glory and break the glass slipper mould of ‘Disney-fied Happy Endings’. From The Little Mermaid and Snow White to Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, the ancient curses connecting this group of characters revealed the origins of these stories in their most brutal forms. It was quite a refreshing take on a genre which I love so much.
The characters themselves were each intriguing in their individual ways. I had so much fun working out which fairytale fate each character was destined to take up, some were slightly more obvious than others. Through Yuki, Ella, Rory and Nani, we are given a range of identities and representations to connect to. Be it parental expectations, grief, sexual identity or just working out who the hell you’re supposed to be whilst growing up – there were plenty of cultural and lifestyle character facets here to bring about diversity amongst this group of girls. It was interesting to see the range of emotions each one went through as they dealt with the death of a friend and sought to reforge and re-establish their fractured friendships. Even though the setting isn’t actually a single-sex girls’ school and there a couple of male characters in the story, sometimes the catty dialogue and humorous interactions between the girls sent my mind right back to my own education at an all-girls’ school!
I have to admit, I wasn’t totally aware that this book was going to be a series when I first started reading so the cliffhanger ending right at the end was abrupt in the best possible way. Although one or two mysteries get solved within the final pages, there’s still so much more to come from this fantastic plot. I’m already eagerly awaiting the sequel as it feels like these girls are just getting started on their epic fairytale-debunking quest!
Why Should I Read This?
For the representation of original fairytales in all their twisted, brutal glory.
For a diverse range of fierce female characters who bond together to overcome an ancient evil.
For the dark academia vibes of The Grimrose Académie setting.