The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl

The basics

Title: The Grimrose Girls


Series: Grimrose Girls #1

- The Grimrose Girls (2021)
- The Wicked Remain (2022)

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Goodreads Summary:

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.

Read a full summary of The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl below. If you can’t remember what happened in The Grimrose Girls and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place. This recap was written by the author Laura Pohl herself, so you can be sure that it’s the most accurate plot summary on the internet!

A Short Summary of The Grimrose Girls

Grimrose Académie, an extremely exclusive boarding school in Switzerland, has just suffered the loss of one of their most prominent students. Although some believe it was an accident or suicide, Ella, Yuki and Rory, the dead girl’s friends, know this isn’t true. They start to investigate the circumstances with the help of the new girl, Nani, only to find out that Grimrose may be haunted by a magical curse. Every girl there is the equivalent of a classic fairy tale and they are doomed to never get to their happy endings. And if they don’t find a way to break it, one of them could be next. Think the unhinged fairytale combinations of Once upon a time with a lot more murder.

The Cast of The Grimrose Girls

Ella Ashworth – (◡‿◡✿)
Yuki Miyashiro – Tired of being nice and just wants to go ape shit.
Rory Derosiers – Likes girls and swords.
Nani Eszes – Hater 24/7.
Ariane van Amstel – Dead from chapter 1.
Svenja Niytrai – Inexplicable crush on Nani. Nani is rude to her most of the time.
Pippa Braxton – Rory’s fencing rival. That’s all she is, Rory swears. Nothing more. Stop asking!
Frederick Clement – The only relevant boy in the entire story.
Penelope Barone – Ari’s Other Friend.
Reyna Castilla – Yuki’s stepmother and headmistress of Grimrose Académie.

What happened in The Grimrose Girls?

  • It’s the first day of school and it starts with a funeral. Really puts first days at school into perspective.
  • Ella, Yuki and Rory are grieving the death of their friend, Ariane, who drowned at the lake before school started. Everyone in school keeps whispering about them. Yuki doesn’t tell the other girls that she thinks Ari’s death is her fault.
  • Back to routine, Ella takes a cooking class with an old school crush, Freddie, who’s probably not that relevant for this recap anyway but he’s here for cutie points.
  • Nani arrives and is roomed with Yuki and Rory, taking Ari’s old bed. All she wants is to meet up with her father, who used to work at the school but has now apparently vanished.
  • Ella and Rory are still not convinced that Ari’s death was a suicide, and they want to know more. The only way to do that is if one of them talk to Penelope Barone, a girl Ari was chummy with last year and who looks like she knows something they don’t.
  • Spoilers: she sure does!
  • Yuki talks to Penelope, and Penelope sees right through her. She also believes Ari’s death was by her own hand, and says as much to Yuki. They bond over chocolate.
  • Nani goes to the obligatory school assembly, everyone gets an emotional and empty speech from their hot headmistress, Reyna Castilla. Nani wants to GTFO but is stopped by a very pretty girl named Svenja who badgers her incessantly about her secrets. Nani makes her escape and then finds a BOOK (ew) in Ari’s things and hands it to Rory.
  • Rory gives the book to Ella. They’re both baffled by the presence of this mysterious book with a black cover that Ari was hiding, full of her notes in the margins. As far as they know Ari was basically illiterate even though they all go to this super fancy school.
  • Rory almost beats up Ari’s ex-boyfriend in the corridor. She’s stopped by Pippa who’s like “don’t waste your time with trash and fight ME”. Rory does not pick up on that hint.
  • There’s a cat named Mephistopheles in this next chapter, and the author has gotten the spelling wrong every single time she typed it out.
  • Ella hands the book they found to Yuki. Yuki is not pleased to apparently have EXTRA homework now. The book contains a bunch of fairy tales with no apparent connection to anything.
  • Penelope shows up and talks to Yuki about how they both are not looking for answers on Ari’s death. Discreetly hits on Yuki. Yuki does not pick up on it.
  • Ella gets home to her miserable life with an abusive stepmother. Her stepsisters aren’t great either, but the situation sucks for pretty much every minor in that house.
  • Nani decides to Do Things and goes to see Reyna and ask about her father’s whereabouts. She gets the same answer as always: her father worked at Grimrose, and then he left. Mrs. Blumstein, one of the teachers, arrives and eyes Reyna suspiciously when she sees both of them talking. What could that mean I wonder…
  • Shopping trip! Ella picks up fabrics for their dresses for the winter ball at the end of the year! She talks to herself a lot and this is absolutely not important and something the reader should pay attention to.
  • Rory hasn’t slept all that well on another fibromyalgia crisis so she’s cranky. Rory tries to pick a fight with Yuki, kind of succeeds.
  • Yuki feels guilty about not wanting to investigate Ari’s death and finally opens the book of fairy tales. She finds a note inside that says “I’ll tell you the truth. Bring the book.”
  • Yuki wakes up Rory in the middle of the night. Yuki shows her the handwritten note on the welcome card all the students receive once they’re back in school. Rory also finds a list of names.
  • Ari has also left a note that says “I’m one of them”. Thanks, Ari. Ever so helpful.
  • Ella, Yuki and Rory meet up at the library to discuss whatever the hell the note and list mean. Ella notices that every single tale in the book ends in a death and/or tragedy. She sees the Little Mermaid and compares the fact that the mermaid drowns to the fact that Ariane has also drowned.
  • BINGO! Did the book predict Ariane’s death? It’s more likely than you think.
  • Nani goes snooping around the library to overhear the girl’s conversation and ends up attacked by the evil cat. She offers to help the investigation, and the girls accept it. Since she’s new, she can ask questions without being a suspect herself. They don’t realize Nani asking questions means she’ll be nasty to everyone and thus hinder the investigation, but let’s face the facts: they are a group of sweet, dear idiots.
  • Freddie hits on Ella. She does not pick up on it. He asks her to the ball and she’s like 75% sure he’s flirting. But maybe not! Who knows!
  • Micaeli, nº1 source of gossip in the school sees this interaction and is disgusted, which prompts a conversation about wanting to die. Ella realizes Ari isn’t actually the first girl who died on campus, but everyone seems to have forgotten this. STRANGE, right?
  • It’s picture day. Rory and Ella have an innocuous conversation about Ari’s bag and Penelope’s ring with Penelope and Micaeli.
  • Penelope asks if Rory is accusing her of murdering Ari. Rory tones down her aggressiveness.
  • Ella shows Yuki and Rory the news about the last girl who died at Grimrose – Flannery O’Brien, who was murdered at her grandma’s house by her boyfriend. Little Red Riding Hood, anyone?
  • Yuki and Rory think Ella is reaching. Ella gets upset because Ari clearly died because someone wanted to get their hands on the fairytale book, and they all have a fight.
  • Nani does some digging, asking Svenja for help. Svenja confirms that there have been more than a few deaths at school, but Grimrose covers them up because it gives them bad rep. No one wants to pay thousands of euros in tuition for their kid to die in weird circumstances.
  • Nani tells Ella that Svenja will help them get into the archives and search for old student files.
  • Ella decides to take the next super logical step: going to the town psychic.
  • Like, girl.
  • Anyway.
  • Ella asks for the psychic’s help since she knows Ari visited her last year. The psychic says “baby, that sounds like a you problem” but Ella realizes the psychic’s daughter also died. The psychic says all the answers are at Grimrose, and gives Ella a couple of candles for a ritual. Ella is like, sure why not!
  • Rory gets told by Pippa to stop being a coward and sign up for the inter school tournament. She is told this while being backed up against a wall in an absolutely not sexy way, so does she actually retain the information or is she just distracted by Pippa being extremely pretty? Hard to tell.
  • Nani goes to the library to be alone and study the book. Micaeli sees her with it and says “hey i know that book!” When Nani shows her the cover she replies “Wait, never mind, I think the cover I saw was white”. Nani is like, LOL so random. What!
  • Svenja takes Nani and Ella to the archives and they match names of several dead girls from the past to Ari’s compiled list. All the girls on the list are dead, except for them.
  • Yuki is not convinced that the deaths can’t be coincidental. Many girls have died of drowning way back when. Ella says no one remembers the deaths, and that’s weird. Ella suggests they do the ritual, and Yuki loses it and screams that Ari’s dead and they all better accept it and stop this fruitless investigation.
  • Yuki storms out and meets Penelope. Yuki tells her that she’s asexual & aromantic and in the night before she died, Ari told her that Yuki didn’t know what love was. Yuki got mad and said “well if you want us all to suffer for you maybe then just kill yourself!” Which Yuki thinks is what Ari has done, so that’s why she’s so guilty all the time. Penelope says that Yuki is allowed to be angry, and that she should do the ritual Ella suggested because that means they can wrap this up and be done with grieving Ari.
  • Svenja hits on Nani, and Nani GETS IT. Finally, a gay person with a clue in this book. They go explore the secret passageways on a very cute date that ends in murder, literally: they find Micaeli’s dead body in the stairs.
  • Ella takes the book and points out to Yuki and Rory that Micaeli’s death matches that of Goldilocks. They realize Micaeli’s death is a message to them – they’re the only ones who read the book and understand the tale.
  • Yuki agrees to do the stupid ritual. She wants to invite Penelope, but Ella insists they bring Nani instead.
  • On Halloween, the four girls go to the abandoned aviary tower, set up the candles and start reading the book. The wind starts blowing, the storm starts coming, weird stuff is happening, Yuki gets scared and throws the book into the fire, but instead the fire seems to get to her, burning from the inside. She passes out.
  • Rory and Nani take Yuki back to their room, and she seems fine. They also realize the book hasn’t burned. Nani tries to burn it again, throws it under the water and tries to tear a page. Absolutely nothing happens, the book is intact. Definitely weird, weird, weird.
  • Weird stuff is happening but school is still on, so back to classes and stuff. Nani leaves for another date with Svenja where they talk about how bad their last date actually was, and when she comes back to the room there’s a note waiting for her, saying “I KNOW YOU HAVE IT”.
  • Ah, sweet.
  • Rory freaks out and asks if Nani locked the door. Yuki has to tell Rory again that Halloween is not a documentary. They decide to hide the book in the library and change the locks of their room.
  • Yuki needs a break, and she goes to take a shower. She’s so angry that she realizes she just transformed the water into snowflakes.
  • Yuki is magic.
  • She hates this.
  • She doesn’t tell the other girls.
  • Pippa tries to give Rory yet another wake up call for her to live her life despite her parents’ constant expectations. This time there’s no almost kissing so Rory pays attention.
  • Yuki’s powers spiral out of control. She’s turning stuff into ice. She’s seeing things in reflections. She’s going Through It.
  • Yuki ends up using her powers in front of Penelope, and Penelope says that Ari was indeed saying some weird things to her before she died, and that Ari told her she believed they were all under some kind of curse.
  • The ball is two weeks away and Ella brings the boxes with the clothes she made to the school. They’re setting up the Christmas tree in the courtyard of the castle and a girl falls down from a balcony and her head is sliced clean.
  • This scene was actually so horrible that the editor begged the author PLEASE TONE IT DOWN. THIS IS A CHILDREN’S BOOK.
  • The school calls an emergency assembly. Ella picks something in her pocket and finds a note that says: “ONE OF YOU IS NEXT”.
  • Rory goes out to confront her parents and ask permission to be in the fencing tournament, but her parents don’t bother to show up and send the secretary instead. Rory is like, fuck you, fuck this, merry christmas.
  • Meanwhile, the killer is out for Ella. Ella finds a trail of candy leading to one empty room in the castle, and there she finds another gruesome murder scene with two siblings frothing at the mouth after being poisoned. Ella trips on a wire and falls down the stairs, and she feels a shadow close to her, but when she looks, there’s nothing.
  • Time for another group meeting. They’re all scared that the killer knows about the deaths in the book, but also, there are deaths DECADES before Ari’s list. What is going on?
  • Ella figures out it’s a cycle and it repeats. They’re forced to repeat the tales, but they only get the bad endings. That’s the curse.
  • Yuki’s like wait a minute guys…
  • They are all too invested. They know the book is magic. That the book essentially dictates who they are, that they are doomed to the bad endings.
  • Yuki’s again WAIT…
  • Ari’s note that “I am one of them” represents quite literally that she is meant to fulfil the tale, like every single other girl who came before. Grimrose draws them there.
  • Yuki’s finally done with this insanity and she explodes. She conjures magic.
  • Yuki says she has had magic since the ritual. She finally confesses that she had a fight with Ari and that’s the reason Ari is dead. Not the book. Not someone who might have murdered her for it. Someone who knows what the curse is. And who cares if there are other murders, just give them the book and forget the curse business.
  • Yuki chooses violence and fights everybody. It is not as great as she expected it to be.
  • Everybody fights everybody. Yuki is mean to Ella, Svenja is (rightfully) upset with Nani, Rory gets whiplash because she lost the date for the tournament sign-ups and Pippa is like “you need to stop fucking up”.
  • Penelope gives Yuki a real talk: so what if your friends don’t like you? You have to know yourself. What do you want, Yuki? That’s a question she’ll most certainly regret asking.

How did The Grimrose Girls end?

At the night of the winter ball, Ella finds a newspaper article about a dead body found after two years wearing the school uniform, and she finally connects the dots and decides to confront Penelope alone, since she has no idea if her friends will even believe her. She sneaks out to the ball and meets Freddie there for a dance, and they finally kiss.

Meanwhile, Yuki is spiraling and decides to tell Penelope about the fairytale book. Penelope tells Yuki to get it and meet her at the lake. Not suspicious at all, girl. Rory is having a crisis of her own, chops of her hair and finally becomes the full baby butch she always wanted to be, and finds Ari’s bag underneath the bed. There, she sees suspicious blond hair, and Nani comes bursting into the room saying that she finally understood the conversation that she had with Micaeli, and that she suspects Penelope has a second book that matches theirs. That’s why Micaeli thought the cover was familiar, and she probably died because she got too close to finding out Penelope was responsible. Nani and Rory go search Penelope’s room, and find a twin to their black book there.

Rory and Nani rush to the other girl’s aid and tell them what they just found, but not before Nani takes a quick detour into the ball to talk to Svenja. Nani apologizes, and Svenja kisses her.

Ella sees Penelope leaving the ball and heading towards the lake and follows her there to confront her about who she is. Penelope confesses that her real name isn’t actually Penelope—she killed the real Penelope and took her place, and has been posing as her for the last two years. Shocker!!! She’s also the one who killed Ari for discovering the book, and rambles on about working for someone, helping the curse along. She confirms that the curse is real, but she was the one who killed most of the others for getting too close to her or the curse. The cycle must continue, and that was the only way she could negotiate her own happy ending to continue living a rich girl’s life.

Yuki approaches and realizes that Penelope has been manipulating her all along. Penelope does her Evil Villain Monologue because she’s a Gaslight Gatekeep Girlboss and puts a knife to Ella’s throat and threatens to kill her if Yuki gets closer, and Penelope and Ella head further into the frozen lake. Yuki uses her powers and breaks the surface of the ice. Ella falls into the lake, and turns out that the thing Yuki actually wants is for Penelope to die, so she stabs Penelope with the knife. Mirror mirror on the wall, there’s only one Girlboss to rule them all.

Yuki jumps after Ella, and Rory and Nani arrive just in time. Rory uses a branch to draw Yuki and Ella out of the lake, helping them up, and Nani performs CPR on Ella so she spits the water she swallowed. Ella returns to the land of the living, and Rory and Nani show the book they found in Penelope’s room: it’s a twin to their own, but the cover is white, and there are portraits of all the girls matching the cursed tales, and only contains good endings. Ella then makes a promise that they’ll figure out a way to break the curse and save all the girls at Grimrose.

A happy ending? Find out in the next one >:)

This is a full plot summary of what happened in The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

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