Plain Bad Heroines

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As I work harder at being a more present reader, I’m going to add a new part of my blog each month. Along with my overall book thoughts for everything I read the month before, I’m going to do a longer post on my favorite read. This first one might not be as well prepared as the future ones since I hadn’t decided this until recently, but I hope you’ll still get some benefit from my rambling book thoughts.

My favorite read of December (and second place for my favorite read of the year) was Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth. I knew I loved this book when I immediately had to tell someone about how much I loved it and needed someone to talk t about it. And since I’m pretty awful at giving book summaries without giving everything away, I described it as “dark, creepy, haunted, and queer.” All my favorite things. But I’m going to try to get into it a little more and examine what really drew me in to the story. And hopefully I won’t give away too many spoilers.

We’ll begin with the setting. In the present day storyline, the girls begin in the city with their movie script reading and business deals. And even though this is the peace before the creepy sets in, there’s an undertone of darkness in every scene. But then we’re at The Brookhants School for Girls and everything gets darker. The descriptions were incredibly vivid and it was easy for me to be in the moment (either in present day or in the past) during the entire story.

A favorite scene in particular where setting really came to life was in the past timeline, when the snow trapped them in their house and they can’t get back to the school to check on the girls. Maybe this has to do with the snowpacolypse from a few years ago, but I felt the claustrophobia of being trapped in the house by the weather.

The characters – all of them – were very full of life and sprang off the page. The trio in the present time line, Merritt, Harper, and Audrey, were entertaining to watch. The way they played off each other, with each other, and against each other throughout the story was amazing. The tension, sexual and otherwise, was palpable. And I was very happy with their conclusion, even if it was a little ambiguous.

The supporting cast was great as well. Even ones with very little page time. They each had a purpose, and they served it well to give the story a perfectly rounded experience.

Now, without giving any spoilers, I can’t go into much more detail. This book had a story within a story, within a story, and it was woven very intricately in order to pull it off. And the author most definitely did. The reader is given just enough of the past story to enlighten the present day and string us along into the the next catastrophe. And as we neared the ending, each reveal built the pressure even more until the final climax. I was tripping over myself to get to the last page, and was left feeling hollowed out when it was done.

I hope my thoughts will urge you into reading this book. Or if you already have, I would love to know how you felt about it.

Thank you for reading 🙂