Blogtober Day Fourteen: If You Liked This, Then Read That

Hello, lovelies! I have had some great fun doing the ‘if you liked this book, then try that one’ in the past. So, no big surprise, here I am to do it again today. Today’s comparisons are all going to be recommendations for spooky season. Hopefully, you’ve read some of these so that you can try the books I’d recommend next.

If you liked Sadie by Courtney Summers, you will probably like The Night Swim by Megan Goldin. Sadie follows a young girl named Sadie who is bent on finding her sisters killer and bringing him to justice. While we’re following that story from Sadie’s point of view, we’re listening to West’s podcast which is trying to find the truth about what ultimately happened to Sadie. The Night Swim follows Rachel who has a well known true crime podcast. For her third season, she will be covering an on going court case, a rape trial. While she’s in this small town, she’s approached via letters by someone who grew up there. Her sister was murdered in that town years and years ago, but it was ruled an accidental drowning. I think these stories are comparable because of the podcast element (I did the audiobooks for both of these and would recommend that you do too). Both books also cover some really heavy topics like murder, sexual assault, and rape.

If you liked Home Before Dark by Riley Sager, then you should try The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. Home Before Dark is the story of Maggie alternating between the past and the present. Her father has died and she’s learned that she now owns Baneberry Hall (the house her family fled when she was a child). Her father wrote a non-fiction book about their time at Baneberry Hall (the book is what we get in the past parts of the story). There are so many secrets and deceptions about this book that Maggie’s determined to go back to Baneberry Hall and finally get to the truth for herself. The Sun Down Motel follows Carly, in present day, and Viv, in 1982. Viv went missing and was never found, this is something that her niece, Carly has fixated on. We follow Carly as she follows in her Aunt Viv’s path, coming to the town of Fell, working nights at the Sun Down Motel, trying to solve a mystery. Both of these books have the element of ‘is it ghosts or is there a logical explanation’ which is apparently a horror/mystery trope that I really like. Both stories also give us alternating chapters from the past and the present, with the present reflecting events that happened in the past. If you like spooky murder houses (or motels) you’ll probably like these books.

If you liked They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman, you might like How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao. They Wish They Were Us takes place at an expensive prep school with a “secret” society that everyone knows about. Jill’s best friend died in their Freshman year. Now she’s a senior and it’s her turn to be in charge in this secret group. She’s vowed that she will do things differently. But she’s starting to suspect that her best friends killer might actually be innocent and if he is, then who actually killed her best friend? How We Fall Apart also takes place in an elite prep school. Nancy’s best friend goes missing, and later is found dead. Nancy’s friend group each have secrets, so when an anonymous person named “The Proctor” starts revealing these secrets, the friends band together to try to uncover The Proctor’s identity. The common element for these books is exclusive prep schools and murder. They were both relatively fast paced stories who’s twists I did not guess.

If you liked Small Favors by Erin A. Craig, you will probably like Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth. Small Favors goes through the seasons of a year. And over this year, strange things are happening in the small town she lives in. They’re surrounded by a forest that has legends of being filled with monsters. It’s been years since anyone has seen these monsters, but they might be returning. People are dying and things are getting weirder as the seasons are changing. This book was just full of weirdness in the best way. Plain Bad Heroines follows a few different time periods, but all taking place in the same place: a creepy house/school. This house might actually be cursed. Murder and mystery are what this house is all about and unraveling what’s real and what isn’t is absolutely the appeal of the story. Both of these books follow creepy, atmospheric settings where people are dying and the reason why is unclear.

If you liked Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw, then you should try Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore. Winterwood is about a magical (maybe even haunted) forest. Nora and the women in her family have a special connection with this forest. When a boy survives his time in the forest, Nora needs to find out what really happened. Wild Beauty is about a lush garden estate that is cared for by the Nomeolvides family. They all have flower magic. But their curse is that the men they love always leave them. Until one day, the gardens give them a boy instead of taking one. Both of these stories involve magical nature. They also involve boys mysteriously appearing from the flowers and the forest. I think the biggest difference is that Wild Beauty is a story that feels like spring and Winterwood is a fall/winter story. Both are magical and mysterious.

These are the books that I’ve chosen for comparison and recommendation today. Have you read any of these? Would you agree or disagree with any of my comparisons? Are there any books that you would recommend with the books I’ve chosen? Let me know!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth

Summary:
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 bestselling 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.
Over 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 bestselling 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 and featuring black-and-white period illustrations.

Book Cover

Summary:
I read Plain Bad Heroines for book club in June. The consensus seemed to be that everyone liked it, but I really loved it. This book was bizarre and convoluted and complex and I loved everything about it.
The story jumps all over the timeline. So, it’s not an easy one to summarize. There are the characters from 1902 which include some students as well as some teachers at The Brookhants School for Girls. But bad things are happening. People are dying. Then there’s the present-day timeline, which includes, Merritt, Harper, and Audrey (there’s more but these are the most important). But we also get smaller stories from the very beginning. Basically, this story is about yellow jackets killing people because the land is angry. Some say it’s cursed and others are fascinated. Regardless, Merritt wrote a book about Brookhants and it’s being turned into a movie with a focus on Clara and Flo (the first two girls to die at Brookhants). Harper and Merritt develop a flirty friendship before filming starts and when Audrey is cast alongside Harper, jealous starts to show. But the three grow close and the story grows creepy and I loved every page.  
I really loved these characters. They are all so beautifully flawed, it was a true joy to get to know them and follow their stories. I loved Libby and Alex (teachers at Brookhants) and their romance. It was lovely and sweet until it was tragic. Tragic actually fits well to describe a few of the storyline endings. This was not a happy story filled with happy characters. This was a creepy and atmospheric story filled with mystery and queer characters. The growth and personal stories we get to follow for Merritt, Audrey, and Harper was so enjoyable. I loved getting to know them better and see them get to know one another. They were all such well-developed characters with fears and hopes and dreams. I loved these three so much.
Overall, I loved this book. I loved all the different storylines. I loved the creep and mystery. I loved the slow pace of the story, revealing the tiniest bits and pieces at a time. I really loved the different time periods. I loved how gay everyone was. I loved the illustrations. I highly recommend this story for anyone that loves a slow, steady story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.