I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “The Grimrose Girls” by Laura Pohl! Here’s a quick summary so we know what it’s about:
“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.”
Character Development: 4 out of 5 stars
I liked how all the girls had obvious fairytale references without feeling like I was beaten over the head with them. Ella was the stand-in for Cinderella, Yuki is Snow White, and Rory is from Sleeping Beauty. They also did the same with side characters both dead and alive, including Ariane (a stand-in for The Little Mermaid), Flannery (Little Red Riding Hood), and Svenja (a stand-in for Odette from Swan Lake).
I had a hard time figuring out who Nani’s fairytale stand-in was. I’m not sure if this was intentional for her to not obviously (but not too obviously) have a fairytale character equivalent since she was the new student, or if I just completely missed it. I tried rereading all of Nani’s chapters for more details but I genuinely couldn’t figure out who her fairytale character equivalent was.
Svenja, despite being a supporting character, automatically became my favorite character in this entire book. I loved her backstory and connections with Swan Lake, and I loved reading her romance with Nani. She’s a willing ally to help out others. But she’s also not afraid to call others out for just running to her when they need favors and/or assistance. I wish she had the opportunity to be a true main character because she contributed both to subplots and the main story in a way that none of the designated main girls ever could.
There are two obvious side romances (with there being three-to-four in total referenced at least) in the main story, but they never took away from character development. Frederick and Ella and Nani and Svenja were fun to read for sure, especially the latter pairing.
Plot Development: 3.5 out of 5 stars
I did enjoy reading the main story overall. It was a little slow to start, but the pacing was overall better by one-fifth into the book. I do wish all the subplots combined more into the main story than they did as is, but they were still overall fun to read. Whether you enjoy them depends on how much you enjoy the fairytales some of the subplots are based on, though. Ella’s subplot is the most heavily based on her associated fairytale, including her falling in love with Frederick. All the rest of the subplots are more loosely based but are still fairly obvious for those familiar with each character’s fairytale.
Worldbuilding Development: 3 out of 5 stars
Admittedly, there isn’t a lot of detail put into the magical aspects of worldbuilding. I also wish that there was more focus on the school’s worldbuilding as well. The reader is informed that it’s a beautiful school and it’s rich in education, but how so? There is barely any focus on any classes. There is some mention of various school groups, like the ballet corps and so on through other characters’ connections with them, but that’s about it.
However, the fairytale aspect of the book and how it built into the deaths, the characters, and the main story made up for it well. I thought it was a very creative way to execute the fairytale aspects
Overall, I’m rating this book 3.5 out of 5 stars!
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in seeing how the fairytale elements of worldbuilding lend to the story. However, if you’re looking into extensive magical worldbuilding, this might not be the book for you.
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