ARC Review: The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl

The Descendants 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.

Title: The Grimrose Girls
Author: Laura Pohl\
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller, Retellings
Targeted Age Range: Young Adult
Release Date: November 2nd, 2021
Representation: Two Lesbian main characters (on page), Biromantic demisexual main character (doesn’t use these labels on page, only mentions having no preference of gender as long as she feels a connection), Aromantic asexual main character (on page), Transgender side character, Half Black and half native Hawaiian main character, Black side characterTrigger Warnings: Mentions of suicide (drowning, hanging), parental physical and emotional abuse, self-harm, parental death, depictions of anxiety, depictions of ocd, light gore (blood, partially open skull), death (on page, decapitation), depictions of dead bodies
Rating: ★★★★☆

Ever since I was a child I loved fairy tales. Films like Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty were films I watched over and over again as a child (and still do as an adult). I loved dancing and singing around the living room and pretending that I was Belle or Aurora. My love of fairy tales has only strengthened the older I’ve gotten, and overtime I’ve found myself completely riveted by the original, darker versions of these stories. The Grimrose Girls is the latest addition to the long list of dark fairy tales I’ve been captivated by. 

What I love about fairy tales is that even though we know how the story ends, we still are drawn to them. Why is it that these stories have stood the test of time? Why do they continue to be told? Why will they continue to be told for years and years to come? The Grimrose Girls tells us exactly why:

“Fairy Tales were history in a manner of speaking, and history repeated itself. They all shared the same elements in a hundred different cultures. Cultures that had never been in contact with one another, but the reflection still rippled: mistreated girls who fled their homes, the dangers lurking in the wilderness, the wit and kindness needed to survive. They were different tales, but they held the same truth in them for hundreds of years”

The Girmrose Girls contains many classic stories. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, and many more. And while The Grimrose Girls may be a combination of many stories we know and love, you haven’t seen them like this. Something that I absolutely loved about the book was how Pohl blended so many different stories without them becoming convoluted. In my opinion, when doing a retelling that is based on a collection of stories, the most important thing is that the choices make sense. I think that the choices Pohl made did in fact make sense and I thought she wove the stories together wonderfully. 

This book has a strong cast of characters. Our main characters were reminiscent of their fairytale counterparts (some more similar than others), but they each stood on their own. While I love fairy tales, many of the characters are one dimensional. Pohl’s characters had all of those wonderful characteristics from the originals, but she was able to add more depth and realness to them. They were modernized versions of these characters without dismissing their histories.

“I’m not fragile. I’m not some thing to be locked away in a vault. I’m a person. I want a life, and I’ll have it” 

I admired their ferocity and strength and I liked that they each showed those things in different ways. Their differences worked and I thought they balanced each other out well. By the end of the story, each girl has taken more power and ownership of their lives then they had at the start, and I’m very interested to see how that will play out in the next book of the series.

I found the mystery surrounding Grimrose Académie very intriguing, and truthfully, from the start I was more interested in the what and why than I was in the how. I wanted to know why these things were happening and what had caused them more than I wanted to know how they happened. Early on I was able to figure out the how and who was behind it, as I found some characters extremely suspicious. Discovering the truth early on actually made me more excited for the truth to be revealed and I loved catching all the subtle hints that Pohl dropped throughout the story. I felt that the pieces fit together very nicely and I loved the moments when the girls discovered the truth.

Overall, I thought that The Grimrose Girls was one of the most interesting fairy tale retellings I’ve read in quite some time. I’m glad that this is the first in a series, as I’m especially interested in seeing the aftermath of the events of the final chapters. If you’re a fan of fairy tale retellings I would definitely recommend checking this one out.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Links for The Grimrose Girls: Goodreads | TheStoryGraph | Bookshop | IndieBound

Laura Pohl was born in Braunschweig, Germany to Brazilian parents who love to travel. She has spent most of her life in Curitiba, Brazil, moved to live in the other side of the world in Sydney, Australia and currently resides in São Paulo. She majored in Literature in the University of São Paulo, and now works as a freelance editor. She discovered her writing passion after winning a contest on writing a letter to Santa Claus when she was ten, and has never stopped writing since. 

Laura enjoys reading, Star Wars, quoting Hamilton and writes pretty much all messages in caps lock. Her favorite food is lasagna though she can never actually cook it. She’s also a great fan of dachshunds, and has two to call her own. 

She is represented by Kari Sutherland at Bradford Literary. 

Follow Laura: Website | Instagram | Twitter

5 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl

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