Four friends, one murder, 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 Ariane’s death as a suicide, but the trio is 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 fairy-tale 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.
Fairy tale retellings and mashups are done a lot but they’re still so much fun. The last Young Adult mashup series I read was the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and Grimrose Girls scratches some of the same itch. It’s modern day Dark Academia, set in a castle boarding school in Switzerland.
Chapters alternate between the four main girls, whose name is listed at the start of their chapters, in third person. Many characters resemble a fairy tale character in some way, ranging from the obvious Ella, the scholarship girl who lives with her stepfamily, to puzzles to slowly unravel, to one I couldn’t guess at all. Some aren’t matched to a fairy tale counterpart in this book but it’s a duology so I’m sure more will come to light in the second book.
This school is incredibly diverse and not just because students come from all over the world. Many students come from rich families but only one of the main four girls is wealthy. There’s rare aroace representation and one of the side characters is a trans girl. Rory suffers from Fibromyalgia.
The story feels like a standard teen drama at first – one dead teen, ruled a suicide by authorities but friends have doubts, and endless possible suspects. Once they find a book of fairy tales with the dead girl’s notes scribbled throughout, the coincidences get suspicious. Figuring out the rules of this world is as big a puzzle as the mystery itself. Is one person behind it all? Multiple? Are the people in villain roles in the fairy tales behind anything or are they also puppets? Is there magic and curses or is it orchestrated to look that way?
Other things to look forward to: Solid female friendships! Cute budding teen romances! A ferocious library kitty named Mephistopheles!