Belle Fortune, a 16 year old orphan, is sent to a comfortless school run by Horace Glass, an inventor of steam-powered machines, who disapproves of imagination.
When Belle begins to invent stories about Penny Dreadful, a fierce heroine and slayer of monsters, Mr. Glass plans Belle's "rehabilitation."
Belle will have only Penny Dreadful to guide her as she devises a plan to defeat Mr. Glass. More
It is the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century and Belle Fortune is a 16 year old girl living on the charity of her social-climbing aunt. One night, Belle meets Horace Glass, an industrialist renowned for his steam-powered inventions, and he sees something troubling in the orphaned girl. There is something in her eyes, something that hints at a capacity for “independent thought.” He convinces Aunt Agatha to send Belle to his school in nearby Glass Town where she will learn to keep her "expectations in line with her prospects."
At the Glass Town Establishment for Girls, bodies hunger and imaginations starve. Mr. Glass believes that the "less promising" girls of the world should never imagine a future full of choices. Belle begins to secretly write stories for her two new and equally unpromising friends at the school, stories about a fierce and often blood-splattered heroine named Penny Dreadful. Penny encounters many mythological monsters who resemble some of the people in Belle’s dark world.
Mr. Glass runs a cruel factory in Glass Town, where he works orphaned and abandoned children to exhaustion and despair, but Mr. Glass isn’t the only thing to fear in Glass Town.
You see, there is a place in Glass Town, a ruinous house that squats darkly on its own island. No one is ever seen entering or leaving, some have reported things flying from its roof, others hear the groan and throb of machinery.
Belle will have only Penny Dreadful to guide her as she plans a way to free herself and those she cares about from Mr. Glass.