Plain Bad Heroines – Emily M. Danforth

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PLAIN BAD HEROINES – Emily M. Danforth (Released October 20th, 2020)

Book Description:

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 illustrations.

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars

Not going to lie, when I saw the sheer size of this book I was mildly intimidated. PLAIN BAD HEROINES clocks in at just over 600 pages and I’ve been consistently reading books lately around the 300 page mark. However, I had heard some great things about it, so I decided it was time to dive in. I’m so happy I did because this doorstopper read surprisingly fast!

I’ll always love a good Gothic/horror story at a boarding school. The Brookhants School for Girls has a dark history spanning nearly a century. Beginning in the 1900s, the bodies of two young girls were found and after three more girls were found 5 years later, the school closed for good. Fast forward to present day, and a horror movie is slated to be filmed at the Brookhants School. The past and present collide when the gates open once again and what unfolds is an incredibly woven story.

I so appreciate how well Danforth brought together all the storylines and the characters. Talk about an ambitious novel that could have easily gotten confusing and convoluted but I think she perfectly captured the atmosphere and kept the horror going throughout. I really liked how things all came together in the end and would highly recommend this!

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