Plain Bad Heroines: Book summary and reviews of Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth

Plain Bad Heroines

by Emily M. Danforth

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth X
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2020
    640 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Danforth creates a fantastic sense of dread and champions queer female relationships throughout, delving into Libbie and Alex's history and how their circumstances doomed them to their fate. Even readers who aren't fans of horror will appreciate this bighearted story." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"With a pointed female focus, an unease constantly seeping in from the perimeter, spilling fear all over the page at key moments, and characters who leap off the page, this volume will be sure to inspire many fans...this will also appeal to fans of dark speculative tales such as Mira Grant's Into the Drowning Deep and Tamsyn Muir's Gideon the Ninth." - Library Journal (starred review)

"This book is funny, haunting, and overall an engrossing story, complete with beautiful black and white illustrations." - Literary Hub

"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

"About as sweeping a plot as one can get...the book is very much worthy of a read—and a perfect escape for these times." - Entertainment Weekly

"Emily Danforth's ingenious, jaw-dropping novel is a time-hopping epic about the history of a cursed New England girls' school, doomed lovers, and an equally cursed modern-day retelling via film, plus yellow jackets. Hell, those yellow jackets! The expertly rendered characters are as heartbreaking as they are written with an integrity of vision that saturates every page. Plain Bad Heroines is a queer roar and it's terrifying and it's a goddamned triumph." - Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World

"Plain Bad Heroines wears its brilliance lightly and like the Black Oxford apples described in these pages, it's dark, sweet, and addictive. Emily Danforth displays all the gothic wit of Edward Gorey and all the soaring metafictional ambitions of David Mitchell, alongside a generosity and humanity that is uniquely her own. Simply one of the best books I've read in the last decade." - Joe Hill, New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman

"Brimming from start to finish with sly humor and gothic mischief, Plain Bad Heroines is a brilliant piece of exuberant storytelling by a terrifically talented author." - Sarah Waters, New York Times bestselling author of The Little Stranger and Fingersmith

The information about Plain Bad Heroines shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Emily M. Danforth Author Biography

Photo: Erica Edsell

Emily M. Danforth's debut (YA) novel, The Miseducation Of Cameron Post (2012) was named to numerous "best book" lists, translated into a half-dozen languages, and adapted into a Sundance award winning feature film of the same name. Emily's second novel, Plain Bad Heroines, will be published by HarperCollins in October of 2020. Emily has an MFA in Fiction from the University of Montana and a Ph.D in English-Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She lives in Rhode Island with her wife Erica, her mother Sylvia, and two of the most spoiled dogs on the planet, Kevin and Sally O'Malley.

Emily was born and raised in Miles City, Montana, a town best known for its Bucking Horse Sale - which was once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for hosting the most intoxicated...

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Link to Emily M. Danforth's Website

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