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Plain Bad Heroines was not just up my alley, but had packed a bag and moved into my bedroom. A short list of things you’ll find in this novel; curses, lesbians, gilded-age society scandals, yellow jackets, a heaping dose of snark, multiple narratives that weave together beautifully, footnotes, historic queer icons, and the nagging sense that the line between what’s real and what isn’t has been blurred.This is the sort of New England Gothic that I can never get enough of. It’s the perfect autumn read for you and your best friend that you’re secretly in love with, trust me.
Katherine— From Plain Bad Heroines
“I have never read a book that was this much fun. This was a roller coaster of a read, hitting all the notes from beginning to end. Gothic elements intermingled with the current time period will keep the reader so engrossed that they won’t realize they’ve stayed up all night reading this book, one that’s the kind of book you don’t want to read in the dark but you just can’t put down. The ride through history that meets the present will keep you entertained, on your toes, and peeking between your fingers as you cover your eyes.”
— Sandra Cararo, The Book Dragon, Staunton, VA
“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
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. Plain Bad Heroines is her first adult novel.