Plain Bad Heroines
Plain Bad Heroines
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Annotation: In this horror-comedy, past and present intertwine when a long-closed New England girls' boarding school--where a series of mysterious, grisly deaths occurred--becomes the site of a shoot for an exploitative Hollywood horror movie.
Catalog Number: #293868
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Publisher: Wm. Morrow
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 623 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-06-294285-9
ISBN 13: 978-0-06-294285-2
Dewey: Fic
Dimensions: 24 cm.
Language: English
Kirkus Reviews
In this sprawling, structurally ambitious novel, the gruesome deaths of two turn-of-the-century boarding school girls haunt generations of women and the women they love."It's a terrible story and one way to tell it is this: two girls in love and a fog of wasps cursed the place forever after." Unusual things happen at Brookhants School for Girls, a boarding school situated along the wild, rocky Rhode Island coastline. In 1902, Brookhants pupils become obsessed with Mary MacLane's salacious memoir, I Await the Devil's Coming. Detailing MacLane's lust for "the anemone lady" and her refusal of traditional gender norms, the book gives rise to the Plain Bad Heroine Society. When the club's leaders, Florence Hartshorn and Clara Broward, are found dead in one another's arms, the school's founders struggle to move beyond the tragedy only to be swept up in it themselves. The long, winding story of Brookhants' rise and fall is only one thread that danforth unravels throughout her adult debut. The novel's other major timeline takes place in contemporary Hollywood, where Harper Harper, the "indie-film-darling turned celesbian-megastar-influencer," sets out to produce her first film, a horror flick about Brookhants and its doomed teen lovers. Joining Harper on set are ingenue Audrey Wells, daughter of slasher film royalty, and Merritt Emmons, a wunderkind novelist whose first book inspired the film. The novel switchbacks between past and present, examining the sophisticated subculture of upper-crust Victorian-era lesbians and the Insta-fueled fame of queer icons in contemporary Hollywood. The novel's strength lies in its quiet insistence that queer women have always existed, that their lives deserve bigger, messier containers—even metafictional ones about a horror flick based on a novel based on a true story. Although danforth doggedly pursues the novel's structure over more than 600 pages, the pacing occasionally drags heavy as layers of Victorian silk. Even so, the novel manages to feel like a confection—surprising and honey-sweet on the tongue, to be savored even as it spooks.Creepy, meta, and a whole lot of fun.
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* danforth's first adult novel is at once a sexy, funny, and spooky tale. Magnetic star Harper, author Merritt, and quiet, bold Aubrey come together to make a film about the real-life queer ghostly history of Brookhants School for Girls, a boarding school that was once haunted by a curse and a string of mysterious deaths. Danforth winds their story into the story of Brookhants itself, leading readers through a dread-filled, suspenseful tale with queer women always at its core. Plain Bad Heroines is visually luscious, from the buzz and sting of yellow-jackets and the sheen of black Oxford apples to the strange skim of black algae on water and the rich red of the provocative book by Mary McLane that inspires both rebellion and a strange despair in the young students. Dark, affectionate, creepy, this is a new classic in queer fantasy with Danforth crafting a meta-fiction mish-mash of genres that creates one glorious story dripping in sapphic blossoming and gay makeout sessions. The wry, knowing tone of its narrator, the queerness at its core, and the illustrations by Sara Lautman all contribute to a suspenseful rush that will leave the reader flipping furiously to the end.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (9/1/20)
Kirkus Reviews
Reading Level: 9.0
Interest Level: 9+

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, oppo-site B-list actress and former child star Audrey Wells as Clara. But as Brookhants opens its gates once again, and our three modern her-oines 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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