Title: Plain Bad Heroines: A Novel
Author: Emily Danforth
Release Date: October 20th 2020
Genre: LGBT Fiction, Satire
“Full of Victorian sapphic romance, metafictional horror, biting misandrist humor, Hollywood intrigue, and multiple timeliness—all replete with evocative illustrations that are icing on a deviously delicious cake.” –O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE
“Brimming from start to finish with sly humor and gothic mischief. Brilliant.” — SARAH WATERS
Named a Most Anticipated Book by O, The Oprah Magazine • Vulture • Parade • Popsugar • Bustle • GoodReads • Autostraddle • Literary Hub • and more!
The award-winning author of The Miseducation of Cameron Post makes her adult debut with this highly imaginative and original horror-comedy centered around a cursed New England boarding school for girls—a wickedly whimsical celebration of the art of storytelling, sapphic love, and the rebellious female spirit
Our story begins in 1902, at the Brookhants School for Girls. Flo and Clara, two impressionable students, are obsessed with each other and with a daring young writer named Mary MacLane, the author of a scandalous bestselling memoir. To show their devotion to Mary, the girls establish their own private club and call it the Plain Bad Heroine Society. They meet in secret in a nearby apple orchard, the setting of their wildest happiness and, ultimately, of their macabre deaths. This is where their bodies are later discovered with a copy of Mary’s book splayed beside them, the victims of a swarm of stinging, angry yellow jackets. Less than five years later, the Brookhants School for Girls closes its doors forever—but not before three more people mysteriously die on the property, each in a most troubling way.
Over a century later, the now abandoned and crumbling Brookhants is back in the news when wunderkind writer Merritt Emmons publishes a breakout book celebrating the queer, feminist history surrounding the “haunted and cursed” Gilded Age institution. Her bestselling book inspires a controversial horror film adaptation starring celebrity actor and lesbian it girl Harper Harper playing the ill-fated heroine Flo, opposite B-list actress and former child star Audrey Wells as Clara. But as Brookhants opens its gates once again, and our three modern heroines arrive on set to begin filming, past and present become grimly entangled—or perhaps just grimly exploited—and soon it’s impossible to tell where the curse leaves off and Hollywood begins.
A story within a story within a story and featuring black-and-white period-inspired illustrations, Plain Bad Heroines is a devilishly haunting, modern masterwork of metafiction that manages to combine the ghostly sensibility of Sarah Waters with the dark imagination of Marisha Pessl and the sharp humor and incisive social commentary of Curtis Sittenfeld into one laugh-out-loud funny, spellbinding, and wonderfully luxuriant read.
What a strange and interesting read! Very entertaining. Very witty.
A mash of the past and present. Surrounding a book. A curse or something more sinister?
I enjoyed reading the chapters that were set in the past. Just something about it caught my interest a bit more than the chapters set in the present. I think it was the combination of the era it was presented in and the added myth surrounding Brookhants. Is it bad that I wanted to visit a place like that? Yes I’m a weirdo. At times the book seemed to lag in some places and I struggled to get past them. The characters from the present chapters were pretty good. I did like Harper right away. Merritt and Audrey took some time but I eventually came around. The whole book has a creepy vibe which I was digging. I do feel like having a book within a book was a huge task and due to that fact, the book was a bit too long.
As a whole, this is an okay read. I wanted to like it more than I did. I felt let down in a way. You’re expecting something big to happen and kind of give you closure and it didn’t happen. I didn’t get any horror vibes from this book. More suspense. This is a long read. It didn’t bother me too much but some parts I felt could have been left out. The cover is beautiful. I loved that it had a diverse group of LGBT characters. I give this 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion*