Flawless Girls / Anna-Marie McLemore / Book Review


Everyone knows that Alarie girls are the best of the best: the most refined, the most elegant, the most polished women to enter society. And that refinement is something that the Soler sisters, with their new money and brazen attitudes, just don't have. So when they're offered a place at the Alarie House, how can they turn it down?

But younger sister Isla only spends one day beneath the roof of the Alarie House before she flees back home again. Her older sister Renata stays. When Renata returns home months later, graduated and fully polished, Isla knows something is wrong. Polite, refined, and aloof, Renata isn't who she was before.

When Renata disappears into the night, Isla knows she'll only find her sister again if she finds out what happened to her, why she changed. And that means returning to the Alarie House to finish what she started.



The writing, the essence, the vibes are immaculate... but a book really needs more than vibes, right?


Immaculate This book grabs you by the throat from the beginning. The writing here is masterful, eerie and evocative. I was engaged from the first page, and that's saying something. I do think the story falters a bit (see some of the cons below), but if we're talking about technical construction here, the writing itself is beautiful. I have rarely been so captivated.

Catty, Chatty Girls So many books write teen girls as one note. They're either chatty and friendly or mean and catty. But the truth is, teen girls are all of these things, all at once. And McLemore definitely writes that well. These girls are snippy. They're gossipy. They're scathing on occasion. And they like being around each other. They support each other. They're friendly, and they look out for each other. People can be enigmas, and it is so nice to see teens written with some actual nuance--nuance that makes them feel realistic.

Refined I really appreciate McLemore's nuanced consideration of "refinement" here as well. Because refinement is about polishing, elevating, becoming "better"... and it is also intrinsically a loss. A loss of rough edges in favor of some conception of femininity. The polishing of an image that erases parts of the person being polished. This book is all about femme rage, restrained and righteous, and I love that.


As much as the vibes, the tone, the writing here might be immaculate... the story does start to drag on a bit. Which is saying quite a lot, since this book isn't long by any standard. Dragging On

Part of the reason this book seems to drag, I think, is because the tension is building and building and building... and doesn't ultimately go anywhere. It felt like we should have reached a breaking point way earlier than we did. Things should have made sense. Pieces should have clicked. And there is a bit of that in the conclusion... but it was too little, too late for me. Breaking Point

Which kind of leads me to my biggest problem here. As wonderfully evocative as the vibes are... this book is just vibes. I had no idea what was happening the entire time. I had no footing in the world itself. I didn't know what kind of world it was--fantasy, historical, contemporary realist? I needed some kind of groundwork, some kind of foundation, and because the plot itself doesn't really come together either, I was just left... kind of confused and vaguely appalled. I just... am not sure what this book was. I love the vibes, but the vibes were not enough. Wishy Washy



Fans of Kirsten Miller's Don't Tell a Soul will like the eerie, ethereal nature of this story. Those who like Jessica Day George's Princess of the Midnight Ball will enjoy the glittering, dark underworld of this refined finishing school.


Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Date: May 28, 2024
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


  1. Yikes! Sorry this one was a disappointment. I read two books by McLemore and actually enjoyed them both. I am not familiar with this one though.

  2. Vibes are not enough. And when the pacing drags like that I usually end up quitting before the end. It's too bad about this one; the premise is certainly intriguing.

  3. It's not good when you're confused while reading.

  4. Yeah not for me. Dragging and dragging and never getting that big finish when you expect it

  5. Oh sorry the book wasn't good but the cover is beautiful.

  6. That cover is gorgeous. Sorry the execution fell short.

  7. I love the cover and the premise sounds amazing, but while I do love it when the writing and the vibes are spot on, you're right that a story does ultimately need more than that.


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