Plain Bad Heroines: A Novel

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HarperCollinsPublishers, 2020 - Fiction - 640 pages
20 Reviews
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NATIONAL BESTSELLER

"A delectable brew of gothic horror and Hollywood satire . . . [and] what makes all this so much fun is Danforth's deliciously ghoulish voice . . . exquisite." --Ron Charles, THE WASHINGTON POST

"A multi-faceted novel, equal parts gothic, sharply funny, sapphic romance, historical, and, of course, spooky." --ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Named a Most Anticipated Book by Entertainment Weekly * Washington Post * USA Today * Time * O, The Oprah Magazine * Buzzfeed * Harper's Bazaar * Vulture * Parade * HuffPost * Refinery29 * Popsugar * E! News * Bustle * The Millions * GoodReads * Autostraddle * Lambda Literary * 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.

"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

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - baystateRA - LibraryThing

Xe Sands is the perfect narrator for this dual-timeline, Gothic horror audiobook! It's a long one (19 hours) but it sucks you in. Creeping horror, movie-making, layered storytelling -- will look for more by this author. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Carol420 - LibraryThing

The story idea and delivery were good but the book its self was just too wordy. The same good story could have been told and been just as good in about 100 less pages. The tale went back and forth ... Read full review

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About the author (2020)

emily m. danforth is the author of the highly acclaimed young adult novel The Miseducation of Cameron Post . She has an MFA in fiction from the University of Montana and a PhD in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She lives with her wife and two terrible dogs in Rhode Island.nbsp; Plain Bad Heroines nbsp;is her first adult novel.

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