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Plain Bad Heroines

Hoooooly shit I love this book.

In 1902, two students at the Brookhaunts School for Girls are obsessed with the author Mary MacLane. They start their own club, the Plain Bad Heroine Society, to study the memoir of Mary MacLane. After their untimely deaths by yellow jackets, and subsequent shut down of the school following yet more untimely deaths, the history of Brookhaunts is subject to a revival after an author publishes a breakout book that is picked up to be made into a movie. As Audrey Wells, Merritt Emmons, and Harper Harper spend their time at Brookhaunts, the story of Clara and Flo is told in flashbacks, and period illustrations are scattered throughout.

I loved this book. It was one of my first favorites of 2021. It’s a massive book, and it can get slow in some parts, but it’s so good. I’ve heard of books that are all vibes, but Plain Bad Heroines is a fantastic mix of vibes, plot, and characters. The writing is beautiful, and the narrator’s interjections and footnotes are so very funny. Did I mention it’s sapphic and has a polyamorous relationship? Because if that’s not enough to convince you, I’m not sure what else I can say.

Trigger warnings: death, body horror, child death, drug use, homophobia, suicide, sexual assault, fatphobia, pregnancy


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