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  • Plain Bad Heroines

  • By: Emily M. Danforth
  • Narrated by: Xe Sands
  • Length: 19 hrs and 27 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)

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Plain Bad Heroines

By: Emily M. Danforth
Narrated by: Xe Sands
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Publisher's Summary

‘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....’

Brookhants School for Girls: infamous site of a series of tragic deaths more than a hundred years ago. Soon to be the subject of a controversial horror movie about the rumoured ‘Brookhants curse’:

in the early 1900s, Brookhants students Flo and Clara fell madly in love, brought together by their obsession for a scandalous memoir.

A few months later they were found dead in the woods, after a horrific wasp attack, the book lying next to their intertwined bodies.

Three more grisly deaths followed before the school was forced to close.

Now, the school’s doors are open once more. But as the crew of glamorous young actresses assemble to start filming, past and present begin to blur. And soon it’s impossible to tell quite where the curse ends and Hollywood begins....

©2021 Emily Danforth (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: LGBTQ+

Critic Reviews

"Brimming from start to finish with sly humour and gothic mischief, Plain Bad Heroines is a brilliant piece of exuberant storytelling by a terrifically talented author." (Sarah Waters)

"Ingenious, jaw-dropping...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...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 best-selling author of The Fireman)

"A hot amalgamation of gothic horror and Hollywood satire, it’s draped with depth but bursting with life." (Washington Post)

"A deviously delicious cake." (O, The Oprah Magazine)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Solid concept and characters, anticlimactic ending

On the whole I really enjoyed this book and found Xe's narration of it captivating. It is engrossing, adequately paced and the narrative is unique in a lot of ways.

The plot of the book was very ambitious, jumping timelines and perspectives every chapter, and while most of it pays off and provides entertaining material, some is left a bit ragged and missing a bit of polish.

My main point of fault for the book was the ending. I wish there had been more to the conclusion, a gut punch and flare of horror that could have gone a number of ways... Some of the really tasty threads of plots were just abandoned when they could have been tied up. I get that mystery and leaving some aspects open or unspoken can assist the story, adding to the reality bending plot points, but I felt like there could have been a true horrific element to the conclusion if it had been followed to a climax.

Plain Bad Heroines is a solid book though, and worth the read. It is so jarringly different from the previous novel written by Emily M Danforth (The Miseducation of Cameron Post) - which speaks volumes of the skill and creativity of the author.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Weird, good weird

I loved Danforth's first book, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, and bought this as soon as I saw it. There is barely anything reminiscent of that book in this one, which I think is testament to the author's skill. She has produced two completely different, yet very good books.

Plain Bad Heroines is weird. It's a book about a movie about a book about another actual book. Confused? It's a gothic horror story mixed with a tale of modern Hollywood with a hefty dose of sapphic content. I powered through it, unable to put it down. As much as I lived it, I also feel like the story wasn't explained in the end and wonder if I missed vital details that would make sense of it.

There are two things I feel are missing from this book. The first is the culmination of the threads of the story into a neat conclusion. Some threads were tied up, others were left hanging, seemingly randomly.

The second is the development of some of the ample sapphic romance. Flo and Clara are the central characters but the only thing we learn of their relationship is that it existed. Similar with Libbie and Alex. What about Harper and Abby? A bit of PG content would have been good.

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