THE GRIMROSE GIRLS by Laura Pohl

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I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.

When Ella, Rory, and Yuki return to their Swiss boarding school, they are mourning the tragic death of their closest friend and roommate. Yuki has accepted the official police report: that the drowning was an accident or a suicide. But Ella and Rory aren’t so sure. And when their new roommate, Nani, finds a book of fairytales hidden in the back of a wardrobe, the girls have their first actual clue that something sinister happened. According to their friend’s notes, all of the “accidental” deaths at the school have corresponded to the unhappy ending of a fairytale–from the drowning of the Little Mermaid to the mauling of Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother. But the deaths are picking up in frequency, and not all of them seem quite so accidental anymore. And if the four friends don’t figure out the source of the curse and put a stop to it, they’re pretty sure one of them will be next.

Much of the fun of this murder-mystery-fantasy is sorting through the many fairytale parallels. The novel moves slowly at first (the main appeal at the start being the fairytale tie-ins), but the plot picks up dramatically in Part Two, at which point it is difficult to put down. There is also a heartening amount of LGBTQIA+ representation, including gay characters, a transgender girl, and an asexual protagonist. I’d recommend this title to high school readers who love twisted fairytale retellings.

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