Rating: 4.5/5 stars
BookExpo announces at their annual event their “buzziest books” for the coming year. This year, they chose Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth as one of the books in the Adult category and, after reading this novel I can clearly see why it deserved that honor. I’ll admit, I struggled on how best to write a review for this story mostly because it was so unique to anything I have read in recent memory. Part of me wants to describe it as a horror novel, but the larger part of me that laughed at the comedy and swooned at the romance is hesitant to lump it in a category with Carrie and Silence of the Lambs, which did not cause me to laugh or swoon by any means. The author’s description of the story as a “horror-comedy”, I feel, is pretty spot on.
Plain Bad Heroines has dual story lines (a personal favorite of mine) one in 1902 at an all-girls boarding school in New England and one “over a century later” as a movie is beginning production on the adaptation of the published novel on the history of the boarding school; think story within a story. Told by several main characters, both past and present, points of view we learn all about The Brookhants School for Girls as it was and the site as it is now. Additionally, we hear from a not-yet-named narrator at the beginning who, we are led to believe, knows much more than our characters do.
I highly recommend this book both for the exceedingly interesting story, but also for the overall experience of reading it. This book has horror, comedy, LGBTQ+ romance, and basically everything else you would want in a story. Not to mention, the cover is beautiful and the illustrations throughout are wonderful! Read this book and become immersed in Brookhaunts School for Girls.
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