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Publisher's Summary

“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)

“Brimming from start to finish with sly humor and gothic mischief. Brilliant.” (Sarah Waters)

Named a Most Anticipated Book by:

  • O, The Oprah Magazine 
  • Buzzfeed
  • Harper's Bazaar
  • Vulture 
  • Parade 
  • Popsugar 
  • Bustle 
  • Goodreads 
  • Autostraddle 
  • 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 best-selling 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. 

More than 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 best-selling 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, 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 listen. 

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2020 Emily M. Danforth (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Plain Bad Heroines

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Bad

This is the most boring book ever I ever listen to wish I could get my credit back I only listen to 1 hour and could take it no longer

4 people found this helpful

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Enchanting, character driven, horror/dramedy!

Well, that was wonderful! I noticed the comparison to Marisha Pessl in the description and, having read, "Night Film," during a power outage recently (Not recommended. (Not the book! That I recommend quite strongly. Just wait 'til you can turn on a light!)); I can back that up. There are also similarities to Gemma Files, "Experimental Film," (also good) as well. Especially once we get into the film industry bits (very different types of film, but still). The main reasons I really enjoyed this, however, were the characters themselves. In that way, this book is superior to both of the previous two I mentioned, in my opinion. I was able to relate to these characters so easily. I would find myself getting annoyed at something one of our three leads would be getting petty about and then be able to go, "Yeah, but she's an insecure perfectionist isn't she? Sound familiar, buddy?" Not to mention (ever so slight spoilers, friends)... There was one passage about inhaling a pretty girl's second hand smoke as you decide whether or not to kiss her that... Well, suddenly I was in a memory... 27 again, standing outside a local dive talking to a beautiful girl and wondering, "Just maybe." I was in that sense memory long enough to get goosebumps. That should suggest the level of writing on display, really. Also, this can get genuinely spooky! Never let it be said that I don't enjoy some of the ol' (fictional) ultraviolence. Gross descriptions? Sign me up. I love the visceral stuff. As a matter of fact I'm putting off listening to the new, "Jack Reacher," novel to write this very review. And let me just say, I am equally (if not more) impressed by someone who can unnerve me with atmosphere alone, which Emily M. Danforth has done in spades. This novel is dripping with atmosphere, both gothic and modern at the same time. I'd like to use a quote from the novel to sum up, if I may: "Esse Quam Veridi," which if two years of high school latin (and one particularly cool elective (both taught by the same awesome dude)) serve correctly has its roots in Cicero's writings, and means, "To be, rather than to seem." Too often in modern horror (especially in film (not always, mind you, but still too much)) there seems to be a trend to make the lead characters unlikeable so you'll... I dunno, enjoy seeing them killed more? So little substance. Many, "Seem," to have one characteristic only. It's nice too see the antithesis of that in this novel. With genuinely relatable characters and a good spooky, haunting feel... I Can't reccomend this one enough! Okay, also, I've grown to love the narration of Xe Sands! After hearing her knock Caitlin R. Kiernan's, "Alabaster," short story collection out of the park I was so Impressed! So glad she did this one. An extra dimension of cool, right there. Oh, and as a final note, the Pdf file I recieved did not work (I'm using the windows 10 app, so, results may vary). However, there is a note on how to get to the Pdf through the publisher's website, so no real loss. But good to know. Thanks and enjoy!

2 people found this helpful

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A book unlike any other.

It was fun. It was slow. It was confusing. It was incredible! And now that I'm done, I want to listen again. Seriously, I bought the hard copy today and am flipping through the drawings as I write this review. Dis some good sh*t. But yeah, get the book. Give it a try. It mixes in so many genres and writing styles in a way that I've never seen before. Plus it's taking queer characters and giving them a story that doesn't define them by their sexuality. =) Yay progress!

1 person found this helpful

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Don't waste your money and time

20 hours of multiple stories that have the potential to go somewhere, prepares to go somewhere, but goes no where. it makes no sense, leaves you with more questions than answers. a very frustrating read. doesn't help that you rarely know when the narrator starts a new chapter until shes about a full paragraph or 2 in, just a giant cluster fuck over all.

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Exceptionally well done

loved the story and the narrator. will watch for more by this author. highly recommend.

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Just ok

I wanted to like this book-but it could have been condensed by a lot. And even with such a long book, some of the characters are left with their storylines unresolved and up in the air. Great writing, but wanted a tighter story.

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Great queer ghost story!

This was a long read for sure but so worth it! The queer representation is phenomenal, you get so many well developed queer characters not just plays on old stereotypes. Set in rural New England, it’s a spooky without being too scary ghost story and the loose end wrap up nicely at the end. For sure would recommend!