“A School for Unusual Girls” is the first installment in the Stranje House series for young adults by award-winning author Kathleen Baldwin.
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 the girls 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….
My Rating: 2 stars of of 5
I wanted to like this book, and there were parts that I enjoyed. However it missed the mark for me. Mainly because I couldn’t get behind the main character.
Georgiana Fitzwilliam is a young girl with an extraordinary mind. Obsessed with making a formula for invisible ink she accidentally sets her father’s stables down and is sent away to the Stranje House. Now for some reason, she doesn’t seem to think she did anything wrong. She continually defends herself saying that it was an accident, and even though it was, she seems to think that she deserves no punishment for that. It’s only till about halfway through the book that she realizes that she could have really hurt someone, which would have been good character development but it was too quickly done. She is billed as such a smart character, but she didn’t really seem like it. She made snap judgments and was kind of all over the place.
The way the author described some of the secondary characters gave me real pause. Madame Cho was written in such a racist way. She deserved none of Georgina’s remarks but was given them anyway. It was not great. There was no reason to do that unless it was to make me hate Georgiana, and if that’s the case then it succeeded. And she never seemed to grow out of that exchange, maybe in the next book she will change and grow as a person.
Some parts, (other than the incredibly racist dialogue) were genuinely enjoyable. The banter between Sebastian and Georgiana was snappy and fun. Most of the secondary characters were interesting and I wanted to know more about them. I’m a huge fan of historical story lines, so I was intrigued. I also enjoyed the fantasy type elements.The plot was interesting, but it was all overshadowed by the pacing. It moved way to quickly and took out the enjoyment for me. So did the romance, it went 0 to a 100 real quick.
Overall, the good parts weren’t enough to make me enjoy it and it wouldn’t be something I recommend.
Young Adult – Historical/Romance/Fantasy
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