This post may contain affiliate links. If a purchase is made using these links, I will receive a small commission from the sale.
I received this book for free from Affinity Author Services in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Book InfoPretty Girls Make Graves by Steffanie Holmes
Series: Dark Academia #1
Rating: Book ratings explained
Genres: Dark Romance, New Adult Romance, Romantic Suspense
Purchase at: Amazon | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU
𝗗𝗼𝗻'𝘁 𝗴𝗼 𝗼𝘂𝘁𝘀𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝗼𝗻 𝗗𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗹'𝘀 𝗡𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁.
I'm always the good girl. I never stand out. I follow the rules.
At Blackfriars University, there's one whispered rule: Stay inside the night before Halloween. Hide under your blankets and hope the Orpheus Society isn't the monster outside your window.
If they get you, you won't just be humiliated. They'll put you six feet under.
But I've screwed up.
I found bones in a shallow grave. Another good girl, just like me.
Now I'll do whatever it takes to get to the truth.
I'll catch the eye of the cruel aristocrat with a haunted gaze.
I'll tempt the dark priest with forbidden tastes.
I'll be their shameful little secret. Their plaything. Their sacrifice.
𝗠𝗮𝘆𝗯𝗲 𝗜 𝗱𝗼𝗻'𝘁 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲 𝗮 𝗴𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗴𝗶𝗿𝗹 𝗮𝗻𝘆𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲.
𝗠𝗮𝘆𝗯𝗲 𝗶𝘁'𝘀 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗸 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗿𝘂𝗹𝗲𝘀.
𝘗𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘺 𝘎𝘪𝘳𝘭𝘴 𝘔𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘎𝘳𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘢 𝘥𝘢𝘳𝘬 𝘳𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘤 𝘴𝘶𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘋𝘢𝘳𝘬 𝘈𝘤𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘮𝘪𝘢 𝘥𝘶𝘦𝘵. 𝘐𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘦𝘯𝘫𝘰𝘺 𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘤𝘭𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘴, 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘵 𝘴𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘦𝘵𝘪𝘦𝘴, 𝘤𝘳𝘶𝘦𝘭 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘪𝘤𝘬𝘦𝘥 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘴, 𝘥𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘺 𝘭𝘪𝘣𝘳𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘥𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘦𝘴, 𝘵𝘸𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘱𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘣𝘶𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘥 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘴, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘉𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘬𝘧𝘳𝘪𝘢𝘳𝘴 𝘜𝘯𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘺. 𝘠𝘰𝘶 𝘮𝘢𝘺 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘯.
Pretty Girls Make Graves – My Review
Nothing shatters the magic of my first day at Blackfriars University quite like a naked priest swimming backstroke in the water fountain.
You know a book is going to be a fun read when it gives you a first line like that. Way to suck me in and get the curiosity going. In fact, Steffanie Holmes managed to make me as inquisitive as her protagonist, George.
I feel like I’m Frankenstein’s monster and the good doctor has just plugged me in. I’m alive, and everything feels new and strange and wonderful.
George is a quirky but absolutely lovable character. She’s the sort of person I would’ve hung out with (decades ago, when I was that age). She could have easily gotten into Blackfriars and done her best to blend in, but instead stays true to herself and her individual style. She has attitude, even if it sometimes wavers under the weight of her past. I loved her inner dialogue where she keeps correcting her American dialect into British English, and the way she adapts Leigh’s northern slang. I really appreciated the down to earth and realistic use of common English – it made me feel at home. 😂
Tears stream down his cheeks, and his face collapses like I sucked out all the happiness from the universe while forcing him to insert a black mamba up his rectum.
George isn’t the only fantastic character in Pretty Girls Make Graves. It may have taken Leigh and George months to pluck up the courage to speak to each other, but if a girl will accompany you through the forbidden catacombs of Paris, then she’s a friend worth keeping. Despite being the daughter of a millionaire, Leigh is surprisingly down to earth. Then we have Monty. He may be insidious but he’s also a posh twat. In fact, his entitled prattling often made me forget just how dangerous he could be. But, don’t worry! Holmes managed to remind me pretty quickly. Father Duncan is another. It seems that George gets the measure of him incredibly quickly, but at the same time, I wonder if there’s more to him than meets the eye, and not in a good way.
You are the protagonist of my daydreams, a poem I long to know by heart but whose perfect words trip on my tongue. There is not a single moment when I’m not irretrievably possessed by you.
William is a social chameleon, not only able to adapt his personality to fit with those he’s with, but also the situations he finds himself in. His changes in demeanour were so abrupt they left me with whiplash. God only knows how George could keep up. The way he treats George towards the end of the novel is utterly heartbreaking. Worse still, I unable to tell whether his actions were his truth or just another smokescreen. On the other side of the coin is Sebastian. Dependable, reliable, constant and yet completely incapable of giving in to his feelings. There is something going on between the two of them and although, in a dramatic moment, a little of this is revealed, I hope the whole story comes to light in Brutal Boys Cry Blood.
I want the length of a giant crucifix between us. I can’t control myself when I’m around you. You make me forget who I am. I’m supposed to lay down my life at God’s feet, but all I want to do is serve you.
The book’s storyline is unique and twisted, filled with secrets and lies. I’m gonna be honest, curious nature or not, I would’ve quit Blackfriars before Christmas if I was George. There’s so much going on I wonder how she managed to keep track of it all on top of her studies. There were certainly a lot of big events to cram into a single school year.
I don’t want him to taste like sin and enchantment and to make me feel like I could float away.
I was absolutely blown away by Holmes’ writing style. Gothic romance hasn’t just been pulled in to describe the scenery, but permeates the very essence of the story, from the arched and ancient pathways to the unadulterated joy of William swimming, unencumbered by his demons. Passages are so descriptive that you can’t fail to see exactly what Holmes was picturing as she wrote. I’d go as far as to say that Holmes’ style called to my soul. If I were writing this book, it’s exactly how I would want to present it. One moment that really sticks in my mind is as George and William share their first kiss, if you could call it that. Engulfed by the headiness of the moment and William’s charisma, George draws parallels between him and “a fae king upon his throne, surveying his quarry before the wild hunt,” suggesting that she is taken by “dark fae magic.”
I was cold a minute ago. But as William Windsor devours me, I don’t know if I’ll ever feel cold again.
My only real criticism of the book is that it doesn’t quite make the leap from young adult to new adult until near the end. Until around 85% of the way through, it is incredibly low on the steam level, even if the sexual tension is high. That said, I’m not sure I’d want to see the book take a different route as I don’t feel that sex and steam would enhance the story in any way; I was more surprised by this than anything, as I was not expecting such a youthful story. I think this is probably my sticking point between a 4.5 ⭐ and 5 ⭐ review.
Please, kiss me until I believe you can be mine. Kiss me until your God blesses our betrayal. Kiss me until sin has no meaning.
Pretty Girls Make Graves follows on from Steffanie Holmes’ Stonehurst Prep series and, in the pre-story notes, Holmes suggests that the book contains spoilers for that series. Not having read Stonehurst Prep, I did have a few moments when I felt that the knowledge from that series would help me better understand what was going through George’s head, but it definitely wasn’t essential reading. It is, however, going straight on my TBR, because I always need more books to read. She says.
Part of me knows I need to play my role perfectly if I’m to get on the inside of the Orpheus Society. And the other part of me is ready to lose myself utterly to the dark prince.
In the notes Holmes suggests that she wouldn’t call the book dark, but more of a smidge grey. I’m not sure I entirely agree. Personally, I’d consider it grey with dark moments. But you know what, whether it’s grey, white or a rainbow, you’re going to enjoy it anyway.
How can any of this be wrong when it’s not even real?
Why you should read Pretty Girls Make Graves
- Incredible sense of gothic romanticism
- Fabulous characters
- Unique storyline
- Sacrilegious alter sex (Holmes’ words, not mine)
Pretty girls make graves, Jack Kerouac said and The Smiths sang. But I’m so much more than William’s pretty girl. I’m not digging my own grave, but theirs.