Cover Image: The Grimrose Girls

The Grimrose Girls

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Member Reviews

The representation was great in this book; black, Asian, lesbian, bi, trans,pan,etc. The POV of the girls was intriguing. What didn’t rope me in was the pacing and I didn’t really have the urge to uncover the mystery. I was just drifting along with the story. I really liked the idea of Grimrose Girls but this story ending up coming up short for me:
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What. A. Book! Queer dark academia themes with a fairytale curse all wrapped up inside like a freaking tiramisu cake. So many layers and twists and absolute gems like the above quote. While staying YA, it was super dark with some insanely deep insights about growing up different, about feeling that despair of not belonging, and of course growing up queer and scared of that knowledge, not knowing if who or what you are will ever be accepted. There's nods to mental health and familial relationships, broken homes and happy ones. I'm definitely a huge fan and can't wait to see what Laura will bring us next!!! (Hopefully a sequel cause the ending y'all, I'm not okay!!!!)
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The Grimrose Girls is an effortlessly diverse and inclusive boarding school murder mystery. It’s a dark, gritty, fantastical fairytale retelling inspired by the Grimm’s version of the epic tales. Promoted as a “Once Upon a Time” meets “Pretty Little Liars”, there are nods to The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Snow White.

Ella, Yuki, Rory and Nani are students at an elite Swiss academy. When one of their classmates is found dead in a lake near the school, the girls are suspicious that police have ruled the death a suicide.

The book not only explores themes of friendship and family dynamics, but also weaves a pretty epic tale of mystery with a good dose of magic thrown in. It's one I'd highly recommend if you love YA and/or thrillers! Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for a digital review copy!
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I found myself making myself pick up this book to read more of it. I got halfway through it and decided to stop reading it. I found a lack of character development and it felt like nothing was happening in the novel. I was skimming and I didn’t enjoy how the characters interacted with one another. Maybe I’m not in the right headspace to enjoy this book right now 🤷🏻‍♀️
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This book has some really great elements. It was definitely a very dark book, perfect for a Halloween read, with some very gruesome mysteries. The fairy tales woven in and the magic were all very well done and made a great addition to the story. I loved the representation of all the different races and sexualities and I thought that was well done as well. My problem was the pacing and the fact that I didn't really care enough about the mystery. It just didn't hold my attention, but that could have just been a me issue. I do think other people will really enjoy this book.
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The Grimrose Girls expertly weaves together some of the world’s most beloved fairy tales into a gripping story of destiny and the power of taking control of your own narrative. Both familiar and utterly unique, this book has all the trappings of a gripping mystery, while also exploring friendship and identity.

The original darker versions of the fairy tales we all know and love have always fascinated me and so getting to explore them through The Grimrose Girls was a joy. I am in awe of Pohl’s ability to weave them into the story and modern setting. They form the backbone of the novel and are so thoroughly, naturally entrenched in the makeup of the characters that it never felt like the story had to contort itself to fit so many references. Guessing which characters fit each fairy tale was really fun and they were often so cleverly and subtly woven together that it kept me guessing right until the reveal, at which point everything made perfect sense and fit together beautifully.

The Grimrose Girls has four narrators and I enjoyed reading from all of them equally. THey were all individual, fleshed out characters with unique voices. I loved reading about their friendship and seeing Nani (the new girl) slowly become part of the group. All four of our heroines are gloriously queer (lesbian, bi and aspec rep) which I of course adored. I also really appreciated how Ari’s death impacted each of the girls in different ways and how this influenced their decisions throughout the book. The only thing I would critique is that for their best friend dying only days before the book begins, it didn’t really feel like we got to see the girls grieve that much.

The mystery of this book was really engaging and I really didn’t know where it was going at any time. It was very cleverly crafted and I felt that it was paced well. I went into this book thinking it was a standalone and while it did have a satisfying ending, I can’t wait to continue delving into this mystery and to spend more time with these characters. I am so excited to see how they will continue to grow and how their relationships will develop.

If a mystery set in an elite boarding school featuring four reimagined fairy tale heroines seizing their own fate appeals to you then you need to pick The Girmrose Girls up.
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There were a lot of elements of this book that were compelling, and that had the potential to make it a really good story, but there were also some elements that were lacking in my opinion. 

First of all, I love the modern-day fairytale connection. Each of the characters are clearly inspired by some of my favorite stories, but it is in subtle ways that allow them to stand apart as a new take on tales that are old as time. Moreover, each character is unique in their own right. Several of the characters deal with disabilities that allows for some great representation in that sense, and even further each of their perspectives explore their sexuality in a great way. 

However fascinating I found these elements, there were also characteristics that frustrated me when reading all four perspectives, particularly Yuki, Rory, and Nani's. There were many times in which those three seemed to be lacking empathy, whether it was in the plight of the other characters, or just in their opinions of the side characters and the relationships they form with their other friends. While I understand their frustrations to a certain level, there were some times when the characters felt like they were too mean or bitter to the world around them, making it less enjoyable to read. There were also elements of the characters that I wish were explored more. It felt at times like the characters were boiled down to one or two dominant character traits, while other aspects of their lives were hinted at without being explored as I wish they were. For instance, Ella is biromantic and demisexual, and has OCD and anxiety, and these traits forced other aspects of her life and personality to the sideline. There are times in the story when she hints at her abusive and toxic home life, but it is never fully explored, rather hinted at. I understand how the topic can be triggering for people, but I wish it had not been danced around. 

The thing I struggled the most with in reading this book was the pacing. It took a long time to get to the point where the girls start to think that there was more to Ariane's death, and the issue is that if you read the description, you know that there's more to her death. Hell, the description hints at a whole curse, so this book would have been a lot more enjoyable if we had gotten to the mystery in the first quarter of the book, rather than waiting for halfway for it to pick up the pace. The mystery itself is compelling enough, though I had narrowed down the suspects to between two of the characters, and was correct in one of those suspicions. However, I wish there was a little bit more closure by the end of the book. The curse naturally is not broken, since this is the first in a series, but I wish we had been left with a little bit more... something that would have raised the stakes and heightened excitement for the next installment. 

I will say that I think a lot of what frustrated me about the book could have been solved if it had just been a little longer. It was a relatively quick read, with each chapter being short and sweet, but if it had just been lengthened a little bit, we could have spent a little bit of time getting to know each character a little better, and would have been more invested in the relationships they develop outside of the main story. I really wish we could have spent more time with Rory and Pippa, as their relationship fell to the background with Nani and Svenja, Ella and Frederick, and the mystery taking precedence. Furthermore, I also really wish that there were flashbacks worked in to allow us to get to know Ariane and the bond she shared with each of the girls. Naturally Yuki, Rory, and Ella all described what their relationship was like through their internal monologues, but I would have loved to actually see those dynamics play out on the page. 

Overall, I will probably pick up any future books in this series, just to see how the mystery plays out, and I can only hope that they will explore some of the layers of the characters that make them as compelling as they are.
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Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebook Fire for the e-arc of the book

So. Just to make things clear. We have tales retelling. Disabled Lesbian with a sword. Characters of Colors. Dark academia. A lot of sapphic characters. An aro and ace character. Mysteries. Murders. Great characters.

So I think this book is awesome. I mean it has everything. It’s a mix between plot and characters driven story. There are multiple points of view. You have to understand who is who. And this is the perfect start for a book serie.

Yeah, I really loved it. I’m always a sucker for retellings. And better when it’s gay. So thank you for this book. And now I can’t live in peace without having the second one
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This book has been a ride! Once again, I didn't thoroughly read the synopsis and didn't realise there was fantasy until about 20% in, but that is just part of the reading experience at this point! I am a fan of the who-dun-it mysteries, and if it is set on a boarding school, I am so in. 

The premise of the story was super interesting! It did have some PLL vibes, but less hardcore (except for the ending because WOW). As for the characters, I have a lot of mixed feelings. There were some characters that I really liked, like Ella or Pippa, and other that I liked most of the time, like Rory and Nani. However, there were other characters that I didn’t really like, such as Yuki, Penelope and even Ari (I know she is dead but they said some things about her that I didn’t like, like her being mean). 

There are so many open questions! Like Nani’s father or the mystery surrounding Rory’s family, so I sure will be keeping an eye on the second part of this series! 
Also *spoiler* how easy does murder come for all of these girls? *end of spoiler*. 

All in all, I enjoyed this book, and I would give it a 3.5 if I could.
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I had never heard of Laura Pohl or her upcoming series, The Grimrose Girls, before the first book appeared on my Netgalley dashboard a few weeks ago, but as soon as I saw the description, I knew I needed to read it.

The Grimrose Girls is a Once Upon A Time-style fairytale retelling, and a slightly unhinged high school murder mystery, and a whole bunch of fanfic tropes, all rolled up into one fast-paced and highly entertaining story. It’s full of heart, and I highly enjoyed reading it.

Here’s the summary, courtesy of Netgalley:

After the mysterious death of their best friend, Ella, Yuki, and Rory are the talk of their elite school, Grimrose Académie. The police ruled Ariane’s death as 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—Ariane wasn’t the first dead girl.

They soon learn that all the past murders are connected to ancient fairytale curses…and that their own fates are tied to the stories, dooming the girls to brutal and gruesome endings unless they can break the cycle for good.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

The Characters
The large cast of characters is simultaneously this book’s biggest strength and its biggest weakness. On the one hand, each character is a fresh and interesting take on their fairytale counterpart. All the protagonists end up being remarkably well fleshed out considering how many of them there are. Each one has a distinctive personality and an interesting storyline.

On the other hand, The Grimrose Girls has way too many characters and points of view. For about the first half of the book, I was constantly mixing up details about the main girls or confusing side characters for each other. The constant POV-changes were a bit disorienting. It also didn’t help that neither of the four narrators had a very distinctive voice, so I often had to flip back to the beginning of the chapter to remind myself who was speaking. 

Again, though, the characters of The Grimrose Girls are very interesting once you get to know them. It’s a diverse cast, and the book touches on sexuality, gender, race and disability, among other issues. I don’t think there’s a single straight character in the main cast, and it rules. Diversity is discussed and present on the page, but never in a way that feels overly heavy-handed.

For the most part, I think the author did a good job of portraying characters of various marginalized identities. However, there were a few moments that felt a bit off to me. There’s nuance to each situation and I don’t necessarily want to condemn the book for things that I’m not exactly in the best position to evaluate, but I am interested to hear other people’s perspectives once the book comes out.

For instance, there’s a moment where a character with a chronic illness needs to perform a feat of physical strength that her illness prevents her from doing, and she just… does it. Out of sheer force of will. The character’s illness is generally treated with a lot of nuance in the book, but I just don’t see why that particular scene was necessary, especially since overcoming illness or disability is a very harmful trope when it comes to disabled characters. The one aromantic and asexual character also has a storyline that revolves around her being closed off and a bit emotionless. I actually loved the character and really enjoyed her storyline, which I thought was treated with a lot of care. However, given how little aromantic and asexual representation there is in media, I was suspicious of the decision to have this character adhere so closely to stereotypes. It’s exactly because this book does such a good job with representation that these gaffes are so noticeable.

The Relationships
Ships can make or break a story. I don’t think romance is necessarily a requirement in every book, but a badly written or forced romance can ruin a book. A good romance can also make the difference between passively enjoying the story and staying up until 2AM reading fanfiction. I am pleased to report that The Grimrose Girls delivers on all counts when it comes to relationships.

I was kind of surprised at how much I enjoyed each of the romance storylines. There wasn’t a lot of time to develop either one, but I thought the author did a very good job of making them believable in a short amount of time. Each couple had a different dynamic, and I was rooting for them all throughout the story. 

Obviously, the romantic relationships all take a backseat to the friendship between the four main girls, with good reason. The dynamic between these four is easily the book’s biggest strength, and the main reason I can’t wait for the sequel.

The Plot
The Grimrose Girls is a murder mystery, with a fairy-tale element that’s very reminiscent of Once Upon A Time. It keeps you guessing. I was certainly entertained, especially once things started to pick up toward the end.

My one big complaint here is that it didn’t feel like there was enough time to wrap up every single storyline that was introduced. I’m sure those storylines will be more fleshed out in the sequel, but I ended the book just kind of annoyed that so many storylines were dropped.

Final Thoughts
The Grimrose Girls is an ambitious project, with a huge cast of characters and a lot of different storylines happening at once. It doesn’t always work, but it does work most of the time. It’s a turn-your-brain-off type of book that doesn’t demand a lot of its readers and will surely make you laugh with its witty dialogue. It’s also appropriate for the spooky season!

I read a lot of YA, and most of the books I review on this blog are in that category, but I’d say that this is the first book I’ve read in a while that really feels like it’s aimed at teenagers. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a fun and quick read with interesting characters.

The Grimrose Girls comes out October 26th, 2021.
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3 stars

You can read all of my reviews at Nerd Girl Loves Books.

This is an ok YA Fantasy Mystery/Thriller set in an elite boarding school in Switzerland. When the new school year starts, three best friends discover that their fourth best friend drowned in a lake on school grounds. The police rule it a suicide, but the girls believe differently.

A new girl starts school and is housed in the dead girl's room with the three friends. This sets off an investigation by the girls into the death of their friend, and other student's deaths throughout the years. They find a fairytale book with no happy endings and discover that each of them fits a particular tale. They must solve the mystery of the curse or they are doomed to the fairytale's tragic endings.

This book started out promising, but about 1/3 into the story, it started to really drag. The pace slowed way down and it seemed like the author was spinning her wheels not knowing where to go next. I got really frustrated and almost stopped reading, but I stuck it out and the book got a bit better toward the end.

I didn't really like most of the characters. They all had issues and continually made poor decisions. There was almost no character growth and it got old after awhile. This was a pretty dark book with almost no levity. Even these books need a little bit of lightness once in awhile to break up the gloom, but there was none here.

The book ended on a cliffhanger. I'm 50/50 on whether or not I'll read any more books in the series. I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire. All opinions are my own.
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Thank you to NetGalley, Laura Pohl, and Sourcebooks Fire for the e-arc of The Grimrose Girls in exchange for an honest opinion.

In The Grimrose Girls, we follow a diverse cast of characters immediately following the death of one of their friends on the first day of school at Grimrose Academie.  Everyone says it was suicide, but Ella, Rory, Yuki, and Nani know that something else is going on in the elite boarding school.  Something much more dark and sinister.

Our cast of characters was vivid and diverse.  A large majority were a part of the LGBTQ+ group, but this wasn’t the main focus or used as a plot device.  It was just a part of who each character was.  The setting added a great deal of tension to the story.  The remote location heightened the isolation the group of girls felt as they searched for the truth of what happened to their friend.

I really enjoyed the fairytale aspect of the book.  It’s an interesting take of the traditional retelling to have the characters know that their lives are reflecting the lives of the characters in the fairytales.  It was fun to try to figure out which of our main cast represented which story.

The first layer of the mystery (Ari’s death) was a little predictable.  As the plot unfolded more and more layers were revealed, it became more interesting.  I will definitely be checking out the next books to figure out what is happening at Grimrose Academie.
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This was a really interesting read, and I’m so glad that I got a chance to read it early, even though my review is going up late! Initially I was drawn to this because of the idea of multiple fairy tale retellings in one setting combined with a murder mystery, and that’s exactly what I got plus a TON of rep! The four main characters are all LGBTQ+, “2 are lesbians (on page), 1 of them is a biromantic demisexual (doesn’t use these labels on page, only mentions having no preference of gender as long as she feels a connection), and the fourth is aromantic asexual (written on the page).” (directly from the author on Goodreads).

I liked that this was set at a boarding school and that the book the girls find sort of ‘predicts’ the deaths of people at the school. I also liked that each girl was tied to a specific fairy tale, and for the most part I caught on really quickly to what fairy tale they were each connected to.

That said, there were some things that I didn’t really like. I didn’t like how rushed the ending felt especially compared to how slow the beginning was, and I quickly became confused as to how things even got to that point in the first place. I also felt sometimes like the girls personalities were pretty shallow, and just boiled down to the one who fights, the one who is tall and perfect, the one who is kind, and I wish that we had just gotten a little bit more about them, and how they fit into the fairy tales.

I had a lot of questions that were left unanswered, and I definitely prefer when there are some plot points wrapped up within each book in a series to give you that satisfaction that things are happening and being resolved, and I didn’t really feel that here. I also struggled a bit with the characters and how they always seemed to be referencing ‘the thing under my skin’ like there was something wrong with them that we were supposed to know about but never were told. It made me feel like I was missing something important to understanding the characters fully.

The last thing that kind of threw me off a bit was the writing/editing. I realize that I read an ARC which means that it’s not the final version of the book, but the amount of spelling and grammar errors made it hard to completely focus on the story itself, and it seemed like in some places the wrong character name was used which also contributed to my confusion.

Overall, I really liked the concept of this book and the atmosphere that it had. I think that this would be great for younger teens looking to expand their reading to include more rep and some darker topics.
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I received an advanced copy of The Grimrose Girls through Netgalley so I could share my review with you!

Content Warning: suicide mention, depiction of anxiety and OCD, parental physical/emotional abuse, mention of parental death, light gore.

After their best friend is found dead in their boarding school’s lake, Rory, Ella, and Yuki are determined to find out what happened to her.  The police declared Ariane’s death a suicide, but the trio has their doubts.  Everything changes when Nani Eszes arrives as the girls’ new roommate, replacing their fallen friend.  Nani joins Yuki, Rory, and Ella in searching for the truth of Ariane’s death, but the darkness they find in their search will affect them in ways that no one could have expected.

You can get your copy of The Grimrose Girls now from Sourcebooks Fire!

To be completely honest, I was drawn to The Grimrose Girls largely because of the representation that was promised, and boy did the author deliver!  The four main characters are all queer, with different identities (two lesbians, one demisexual biromantic, and one aro/ace) and I love them all so much!  I am always on the hunt for books with a solid group of protagonists that I can fall in love with, and The Grimrose Girls perfectly fit the bill.  This book was a delightfully creepy fall read, with some wonderful fairytale elements woven into the narrative.  All in all, this book fully earned its five-star rating from me!

My Recommendation-
If you need a book with dark fall vibes and plenty of queer representation, you need to pick up a copy of The Grimrose Girls!  I would especially recommend this book to fans of Pretty Little Liars, The Sawkill Girls, or The Descendants series!
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An elite school hidden away in the mountains. A shocking death that leaves a group of girls broken. Reimagined fairytale heroines. The Grimrose Girls had everything going for it...until I actually began reading. I was on board with opening the book with a funeral (everything points to suicide, but was it?), then it all went downhill.

I really wanted to love this one, but I found my attention waning from the start and it got worse with each chapter. The characters were more caricatures than flesh-and-blood girls and their entire personalities seemed to comprise of a single attribute: one girl was tall, one girl only wanted to fight and Do Sports, etc.

I set that book aside about 45% through so I'm not sure if there's another trans character introduced (the cast is very diverse, the book's one saving grace), but the girl we meet completely rubbed me the wrong way. It's clear from the start who her love interest will be and one of their very first interactions has her walking the other girl back to her dorm room. Once they're at the door, she asks something gross about what her reward (or payment?) will be. Another reader pointed out that this might be the Beauty & the Beast reimagining and if that's the case...wow.
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Thank you Netgalley and Sourcebooks for the chance to read The Grimrose girls by Laura Pohl. I had high hopes for this as it seemed like the perfect YA book for me.  A contemporary telling of the fairy tales...NOT the Disney versions but the original dark and grim versions I have read in the past and the tag line made me want to read it... Four troubled friends, One murdered girl... and a dark fate that may leave them all doomed.  The cover was gorgeous too! However, I found the story slow, and ended up putting it down several times. Unfortunately, this book was not my style,  however, I am sure some teens will love it.  Note: LGBT+ characters.
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Dark Academia is my new favorite genre. Add in fairy tales, and that's a crossover dream come true for me. 

This is the story of four girls that attend one of the most prestigious schools in the world. They are grieving the loss of their dear friend, Ari, who drowned. Her death has been ruled an accident or a suicide, but these girls know it isn't true. They find a book hidden in the bottom of Ari's wardrobe, a book of fairy tales and a list of dead girls that goes back centuries. They are quickly pulled into the mystery of these girls' deaths, and how they may be connected to the book of fairy tales that Ari was keeping a secret. 

We get all four girls' perspectives here, Ella, Rory, Yuki, and Nani. All of them have pieces of the story, and I loved watching their friendship flourish, and how they overcame difficulties together. It did have some serious Pretty Little Liars vibes, which was so fun. I loved how each of the girls had their own romantic (or aromatic) interests that developed really well within this novel. I'm excited for book two!
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Grimrose Académie is one of the most elite schools in the world. Not only does it have a stellar education, but it’s also an actual castle! It’s too bad that one of its students just died.

When Ella, Rory, and Yuki lose their best friend, they know it can’t be suicide, no matter what the police say. But nothing they say can convince anyone else. But as they begin investigating, along with Nani, the new girl, they find a book that links their newly-dead friend with several other students in the school, both past and present. What is this book? How are all these people connected? And why is it looking more and more like the school is cursed?

I received an advanced review copy of The Grimrose Girls in exchange for an honest review.

The Grimrose Girls is a young adult fantasy novel by Laura Pohl. It’s sort of a fairy tale retelling taking place in a spooky school in modern day. And it was a book I quickly got excited about as soon as I heard about it!

The book is told through multiple points of view, through that of each of the girls: Ella, Rory, Yuki, and Nani. It’s third-person, so not often confusing, but also each of their personalities really stood out through their chapters. Each of these characters is incredibly different from the others, from their personalities to their habits and their manner of being. It was fascinating to see how they each dealt with the loss of their best friend, and how people with such distinct personalities could all be friends.

Pohl didn’t shy away from showing the difficulties of these friendships, though. After all, these are girls dealing with a lot of trauma, and they’re all dealing with it the best way they know how. Of course there would be fights and other emotional moments. And each of these moments really pushed the characters forward and had me rooting for them all, even when they were at odds with each other.

I also want to comment how each of these girls might be different, but they’re all strong female characters. It’s not just Rory, who likes to fence in her spare time (seriously a girl after my own heart because I used to fence foil in college), but even Ella, who likes to cook and clean and sew is a strong female character here. It’s not what they do or like to do that makes them strong, but more how much they fight for what they think is right.

As for the story in general, it was very much what I expected in tone from the description of it. We have the spooky gothic elements from the castle, the injection of potential magic from the fairy tales, and the classic drama of this taking place in a high school. I have to say, while there were some things I quickly called, such as the identities of the girls and what stories they belonged in, Pohl continually managed to surprise me, pulling twists up until the very end.

I really enjoyed The Grimrose Girls. The gothic feeling, the mysterious murder, and the fairy tales made this a combination I had a blast reading! And, luckily, it turns out that The Grimrose Girls is part of a series, so we should be getting a sequel to it hopefully soon.

The Grimrose Girls was released this past Tuesday. You can buy your copy from Sourcebooks here.
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I was incredibly enticed by the premise of this book being a Pretty Little Liars fanatic back in the day. I love retellings, especially ones like this with LGBT representation. I love the short chapters making for a smooth read, and the ability to see multiple perspectives was very effective. Looking forward to the sequel and more from this author!
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when i got to know this book was a queer dark academia murder mystery i was instantly hooked! the grimrose girls definitely delivered on the 'dark' part, all the murders were so gruesome and caught me off guard. the magical element and fairytales mixed with them made the perfect mix.

i really loved the representation portrayed through the characters; black, asian, lesbian, bi, pan, disabled, anxiety+ ocd, aro-ace, trans. they each had their flaws and unique struggles. the povs of the four girls were intriguing to read about too, as they went through the course of the story and ended up on a conclusion.

i guess my issue was with the pacing and lack of actually feeling of being eager to uncover the mystery. i was just flowing along with the story, because as it progressed i kind of lost interest. the story has a slow start and it stays slow for a while, and so the build up is pretty slow too. it only changed to be fun in part 3, where the pieces start coming together and the potential for book two is set up.

overall, i really liked the idea behind the grimrose girls! dark fairytale retellings are always a must read for me and i'm glad this held up on that front. but then again, this can be interpreted as very basic. if you're looking for an easy read which is unapologetically queer, with multiple povs and has both murder and magical aspects, this one is for you!
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