I was hoping for magic and got fluffy romance instead?? *
A School for Unusual Girls (Stranje House #1) by Kathleen Baldwin
Published by Tor Teen on May 19, 2015
Genres: YA Historical / Pages: 352
Format: Book / Source: Purchased
Rating: 3 stars
Welcome to Stranje House.
It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don’t fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans that entangle them in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.
After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House. But Georgie has no intention of being turned into a simpering, pudding-headed, marriageable miss. She plans to escape as soon as possible—until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work together without losing their heads—or their hearts…
*But insta-romance and a clueless heroine… nonetheless it was FAST and FAERILY ENTERTAINING. 😉
The main characters
Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam (Georgie) is DETERMINED to make an invisible ink that the English can use in the fight against Napoleon. She also has the patience of a dog seeing a full food bowl. AKA NONE. Not even setting her dad’s stables on fire (and only realizing a chapter or so into the book that “oh, there could have been HORRIBLE CONSEQUENCES” since, you know, SHE DIDN’T TAKE OUT THE HORSES FIRST <- not a happy reader at that point), makes her stop and consider her actions before doing things. Aside from this horrible character flaw, she is semi-relatable and her obsession with all things SCIENCE is well developed and fits well with the story.
Lord Sebastian Wyatt is not impressed with Georgie at the beginning. His description could put a Roman god to shame, but his personality is more like a prickly pear. He’s also a scientist/spy/government employee who becomes Georgie’s assistant for making the ink -> hence romance blossoms! I did enjoy Sebastian and his reasons for doing certain things/acting certain ways, but the romance didn’t exist except for him staring at her (?) and then we get whacked over the head with HUGE PROCLAMATIONS OF LOVE AND OMG WE CAN’T BE WITHOUT ONE ANOTHER. *eye roll*
The girls at Stranje House WERE BASICALLY THE REASON I READ THE REST OF THE BOOK. There is soooooo much potential with this bunch of ladies -> from Tess with her pet rats and superhero-esque strength/athletic ability to Seraphina who has Sherlock-style deduction abilities. It’s never clearly stated what each of them can do and that was part of the intrigue that kept me flipping quickly through the pages.
The good stuff
- This was a super fast read. SHORT chapters. LOTS of dialogue. LIGHT on the historical details. *slight grumble about that*
- Tess’ romance is done A LOT better than the main one and I adored her character a ridiculous amount. Basically I wanted her to be the main character!
- We’re thrown head first into international conspiracy, but partially by mistake? There are lots of twists and turns.
The bad stuff
- HOW IS THIS A SCHOOL?!?!?! There were maybe two days of “classes”?? And classes that aren’t really classes. Then plot things happen and Georgie is in her chemistry lab until plot twists and there is so much whirlwinding going on THAT I WAS LOST quite a few times. Until I realized I wasn’t. I was just feeling disgruntled because I would have LIKED more background or depth for what was going on.
- Insta-love. *shudders*
- Georgie. Dear potato salad, Georgie. SHE NEVER LEARNS. Even when someone has a prophetic dream that SHE NEEDS TO STOP AND NOT ACT QUICKLY, she STILL DOESN’T!! Over half of the plot twists developed because of Georgie being impulsive and/or failing to think about consequences. If it weren’t for the other girls at the “school,” I might have given up on her completely. She does at least feel bad about all of this.
I’m not sure I kept this review as positive as I wanted it to be… This is a really light, mostly fun, read if you can get past Georgie. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read it!
Do you like light, fluffy historical books?? Does this title “A School for Unusual Girls” make you think magic too? (I don’t know how I assumed there was magic, but there really… isn’t much)