PLAIN BAD HEROINES
by Emily Danforth
With illustrations by Sara Lautman
William Morrow. 623 pages, $27.99
THE YEAR IS 1902, and there are problems at the prestigious Brookhants School for Girls. Big problems. Two students have been stung to death by a swarm of vicious yellow jackets on school grounds. The school’s principal and namesake, Libbie Brookhants, must deal with angry parents and grieving students, as well as her concerned lover, Alexandra “Alex” Trills, who suspects there was something supernatural about the girls’ deaths. Alex thinks their demise may somehow be tied to The Story of Mary MacLane, a scandalously Sapphic bestselling memoir with which Brookhants students are obsessed. She also thinks that Libbie is keeping secrets. Alex may be right on all counts.
Fast forward to the early 21st century, and a young woman named Merritt Emmons has written a bestselling book called The Happenings at Brookhants, which examines the strange deaths that occurred at the school 100 years earlier. When the book is made into a film, Merritt flies to Hollywood to consult with the director and the film’s star, Harper Harper, a lesbian celebrity and social media powerhouse. The cynical but sexually inexperienced Merritt becomes obsessed with Harper and grows jealous of her costar, an attractive young B-movie actress named Audrey Wells. The relationship between the three women becomes even more complicated when
Peter Muise writes about New England folklore and legends.