Rating: 3 out of 5.

Huh. I’m not quite sure what I just read. It was a mash-up of several genres, including gothic, horror, mystery, LGBTQ romance and historical fiction. This is a unique book that won’t be for everyone.

The book is set in two timelines, 1902 and present day. The 1902 timeline focuses on an all-girls school in the Northeast, with a scandalous book at its center. Two young girls in love inspired by the memoir of a young girl start a private club called The Plain Bad Heroine Society. They meet a terrible death in the orchard where they secretly meet. The school closes within 5 years of their death, after three more people die.

A hundred years later, a teenage writer publishes a successful book about the school and the girls’ death. The book is turned into a horror movie starring a popular lesbian “it girl” and a B-list former child star. This part of the book focuses on the relationship between the writer and two stars, and the filming of the movie.

Clocking in at 608 pages, this book was about 300 pages too long and I struggled to finish it. It’s very slow paced and a slog to get through. There are moments that I really enjoyed, but for a majority of the book I just kept waiting for something to happen. When I finally finished the book, I just thought, that’s it? The book claims to be all of these different genres, but it didn’t really live up to any of them. It was almost, but not quite, a lot of things, but didn’t deliver on any of them. I’m clearly in the minority because a lot of people seemed to like this book. So, I guess you’ll just need to try it out for yourself.

Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers for a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.