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Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth


Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth
UK Publication: February 2021
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★★]

This ARC was provided by Harper Collins UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

One Word Review – Intense. Three Word Review – S**t Gets Weird!

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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: Wow that was one weird and creepy ride. The book opens in 1902 at Brookhants School for Girls and I was immediately drawn in by the strange vibe surrounding the place, the book then jumped forward to the modern day Hollywood story and I was like Ouch pulling me back to the real world really hurt. For a little while every time we entered Hollywood I longed to be back in 1902 but then the story started to click and that weird as f**k vibe spilled over into the modern day and I was all Hell Yeah this is what I came for.

This is a great story which really does defy being defined by a single genre. I loved the campy horror movie aspects and storyline, I adored the nods to Gothic fiction and the reference to other literary (and not so literary works) really took this to another level. The use of humourous footnotes made me nostalgic for Terry Pratchett and the narrator addressing me as Dear Reader well we all know where that comes from. Add a sprinkling of romance into the mix and there we have it a perfect BookWorm book.

It was only at the end of the book that I realised Mary MacLane is an actual author and that her book is available on Amazon so guess what Readers? I will at some point be reading this as well.

Overall this was a great novel which obviously involved a ton of research which was well worth it as it was clear the author is a reader and familiar with several genres. I loved my time at Brookhants.

Before I go I must just mention that the book also contains illustrations by Sara Laautmann and I really did enjoy seeing these even the Yellow Jackets crawling over the page..

Who would like this? I would recommend this those who like books that keep you off balance and who love it when a book steps outside the strict confines of genre.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

One Comment Post a comment
  1. I’ve been seeing this one everywhere! I’m glad you enjoyed it, it sounds strange and smart.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 15, 2022

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