The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl Review

The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl (TGG #1)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: October 26, 2021

Pages: 387

Available through The Book Depository & Bookshop

Cover Designer: Ray Shappell

Summary: 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 that no one could have predicted. As the girls retrace their friend’s final days, they discover a dark secret about Grimrose ―about themselves, their destinies and that Ariane wasn’t the first dead girl. They soon learn they’re all cursed to repeat the brutal and gruesome endings to their stories until they can break the cycle.

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 Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Grimrose Girls skillfully takes classic fairytales to present a dark, fantastical mystery that doesn’t shy away from exploring grief or trauma, but at its core focuses on identity! For those who love reimaginings, Pohl’s contemporary spin showcases nuanced character arcs, a dark-academia murder mystery, and lots of underlying themes perfect for those interested in reading an empowering, inclusive take on traditional YA fairytales!

When I first read about Pohl’s upcoming book (which was originally titled A Beautiful Doom) and having read her debut The Last 8 earlier this year, this now novel contained everything that appealed to me about fantasy and academia: an elite school, ancient curses, fairytales, friendship and a mystery? Sign me up! Overall, I felt like Grimrose‘s strongest element was making flawed, well-rounded character arcs that weren’t afraid to linger in the internal conflicts of each of the girls, societal expectations and the underlying essence of grief they undergo in their own ways. I found myself relating to their struggles in various ways: Ella questions whether will she find her own happy ending. Yuki wonders what she longs for in life. Even Rory, striving to commit herself to her dreams.

The story follows Ella Ashworth, Yuki Miyashiro and Rory Derosiers who in the beginning, are grieving the loss of their best friend Ariane (or Ari) whose death at the school’s nearby lake is ruled a suicide. However, as the girls work through their own traumas and mourning, they also work together as little by little, they go on a quest to uncover the truth of what really happened. Then, when Nani Eszes arrives looking for her father and ends up being a couple of the girls roommates, she finds herself tangled up in the mystery also.

I had a great time delving more into each of Ella’s, Yuki’s, Rory’s, and Nani’s stories because you learn a lot about them, deeper themes of identity and a lot about their history that makes them come to life. Pohl wasn’t afraid to focus on the more emotional conflicts, family life and their own mental health as you delve further into the expectations they have on themselves: like Yuki being the headmaster’s step-daughter and Rory wanting to defy her parents.

When it comes to the inclusion of fairytales and the atmosphere, both were definitely a couple of my favorite elements of this story. There’s of course a more modern approach to these stories as its set in the Swiss Alps where the school is located, so there’s little details that Pohl weaves into the story to give it that contemporary spin that also is reminiscent of the more darker Grimm’s versions. Now the setting and atmosphere of Grimrose Girls definitely grows on you with each page, but wow I loved it! There’s an isolated, cozy feel to the Académie that makes it clear your in a fairytale retelling from the descriptions of the castle, the passageways but also the academia stuff making you feel so immersed in the school, but constantly aware of secrets lurking within.

Now I wanted to take time to discuss what not exactly disappointed me, but where the execution hadn’t gone in a way I had hoped. In my opinion, the most compelling aspect of the story the mystery wasn’t really actively explored or given any new details until maybe mid-way through and even then it felt like your just left with the same information for the most part until other murders are occurring and the magical stuff begins to take a bigger part of the mystery. Another piece of this story that (in my opinion) disappointed me, was the main concept of FRIENDSHIP. In the beginning you know Ella, Yuki and Rory are friends and can sense that, but because the novel is focused on their own individual journeys it felt like they didn’t have enough scenes together to where it felt more impactful (at least until the end). There’s multiple scenes where each girl has another friend or potential significant other that they talk to, which felt more intense than their actual scenes when the girls are together. Also, I feel like Nani wasn’t even part of their group unless they talked about the mystery, which to me made a particular quote in which she talked about them being the most important friends to her (cannot remember the exact line) make little sense to me. Overall, it felt like while Nani’s focused on finding her father, friendship isn’t exactly a priority for her and the whole idea of friendship fell apart with the lack of additional details from her POV.

Overall thought I will say that the ending does have quite a few surprises and I’m interested in seeing where the sequel goes because by the end I enjoyed the dynamic between Ella, Yuki, Rory and Nani even more.

The Girmrose Girls is a refreshing take on fairytales filled with impactful themes about grief, identity & lots more. The atmosphere, underlying mystery and character arcs come together to bring a unique contemporary fantasy that starts off with heroines you’ll root for as they uncover their fairytale origins! Fans of dark academia, inclusive fairytales and character-driven stories should not miss out on Pohl’s newest YA duology!

Have you read this book yet or are you planning to? Which YA retelling is your favorite or any your looking forward to reading?

If you’d also like to read a bit of a different, more in-depth review, I recently wrote a Grimrose review for The Booked Shelf too and I’m beyond thrilled to start posting more alongside book news over in that space, enjoy! 🌹📚

6 thoughts on “The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl Review

    1. Definitely understand the feeling of holding off on reading, sometimes I’ll start a sequel and forget a lot of what happened in the first book! 😂 Hope you enjoy it when you get around to it & thank you for reading Vee! 💕

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  1. I get what you mean about the mystery, it wasn’t the main part of the plot so I wouldn’t recommend readers to go into it expecting a big mystery. And you raise a good point about the friendships – it’s definitely more about individual journeys than the friendship between the girls, but I’m glad the friendship was still explored to some extent. Lovely review 💛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah its interesting, its technically a mystery (or got mystery elements) but there were moments where it didn’t get too much page time until later on 😅 Agreed, I love that they each have their individual moments but I guess the element of friendship just wasn’t explored in the way I was hoping. Thank you for reading Saima 💕

      Liked by 1 person

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