Wednesday 23 February 2022

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth | Book Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Borough Press
Publication date: 17th February 2022

"BROOKHANTS SCHOOL FOR GIRLS: Infamous site of a series of tragic deaths over a hundred years ago. Soon to be the subject of a controversial horror movie about the rumoured ‘Brookhants curse’:

In the early 1900’s, 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…"

I went into Plain Bad Heroines completely blind. Yes, I'd read the synopsis but made a decision not to read any reviews and I'm glad I didn't. I thought it would be a lot more historical fiction-y (a genre I don't read a lot of!) but I was pleasantly surprised.

The story takes place in two main timeframes but have a recurring theme running throughout.

Firstly, back in 1902 at Brookhants School for Girls in Rhode Island, Flo Hartshorn and Clara Broward are in love. They also have a bit of an obsession with a book 'The Story of Mary MacLane' and start up the Plain Bad Heroine Society. One day, they are both found dead in the woods, clearly stung to death by a swarm of yellow jackets, The Story Of Mary MacLane by their sides. Flo and Clara aren't the only ones to die with the book next to them...

In present day, Merritt Emmons has written a book about what happened at Brookhants which is now being adapted for a movie (The Happenings At Brookhants) starring popular actress Harper Harper and actress and daughter of a 80s scream queen, Audrey Wells. But the yellow jackets weren't left in 1902.

I was a bit nervous going into Plain Bad Heroines simply because it is such a big book at 620 pages. I worried that maybe I would lose interest but the story was just so enthralling that I didn't want to put it down.

The writing style is fantastic. I loved the hilarious unknown narrator who included footnotes for us, the Reader.

The scenes in 1902 feel very gothic and atmospheric. This book had some really great queer representation. There isn't a single straight relationship in it. There are parallels, for example Clara being judged for being a lesbian back then and Harper's grandparents giving her an ultimatum while under their roof in 2009. It shows that there still can be (completely unjustified) issues in this day and age.

All in all, Plain Bad Heroines is one I would definitely recommend to keep you gripped.


A massive thank you to the Harper Fiction Team for having me on the blog tour. You can find the information for the other bloggers taking part in this tour in the graphic below.

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