Review: A School For Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin
A School for Unusual Girls is the first captivating installment in the Stranje House series for young adults by award-winning author Kathleen Baldwin. #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot calls this romantic Regency adventure "completely original and totally engrossing."
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....
Genre: Supernatural, Mystery, Royal-Court--
Georgie has finally done it. Her most recent experimentation to make invisible ink ended up with her father's barn being burned down along with the neighbor’s apple orchard. Her parent’s ship her off to a boarding school for problem girls which boast of using torture as a method to make biddable marriage quality girls.
Georgie can’t possibly go to such a school, and dreads what will become of her. Much to Georgie’s surprise, the school is not what she was expecting and her fellow students are full of surprises.
The book took place in Europe during the reign of Napoleon and the characters are thrown right into the fray of war. I felt like this was a mash up of history, espionage, romance and coming of age. There was also a dash of unexplained supernatural as well that was hinted at repeatedly but never explained, AT ALL. My interest was piqued but never satisfied. The entire book took place over just a few days and it had a fast moving plot, which kept the book engaging. I will admit that I was not completely sure what I was reading when I started the tale and it took me a bit to become invested in the story. Georgie is the main character in the sense that the book was narrated by her, but there were tons of side characters with whom I desperately wanted to know more about. The way the book was set up, I am pretty positive that this is the first in a series.
Georgie was probably my least favorite character, and I know that sounds harsh considering she is the main character, but it is the truth. She first appeared to be smart, courageous and spunky but my high opinion of her fizzled out quickly. She took things at face value instead of looking for deeper meaning and reasons, she continuously tried to run away from this “terrible” place, even though she was never once mistreated and she made hasty judgments on the others she met. I will say that yes Georgie is book smart, but she is most certainly not people or common sense smart. Can I also mention that she fell in love with someone she only knew for basically 2 days and most of that time was spent bickering and being mad? It drove me insane the depth of her feelings for this person. I can understand attraction and affection, as well as the urge to save him (mainly due to the fact she was the one to get him into the mess) but love was not realistic.
The other girls at the house were incredibly intriguing, each with their own beauty, gift/quirk and personality. They all have skills, but I could not determine the origin of said skills- if they were natural intelligence honed or some sort of extra-sensory/ supernatural skill. I hope the next book in the series is either told from one of their points of view, or maybe it will vary and use alternate points of view (that would be ideal!) I just need to mention that these girls have some mad tricks up their sleeves and I would want them on my side. It also makes me curious if the idea of young women being trained in such a way during times of war is an actual historical concept of just fiction from the author. I may need to brush up on my history. There was also the budding of a romance that I found to be entertaining (even while it confused me) between one of the girls and the neighbor. The two of them had a banter thing going and you could practically feel the desire and tension between them which I loved, but I was confused because I am pretty sure another one of the girls had feelings for him first but no mention of it was made later.
Overall this was a fast paced story with a concept that was new (at least to me). I could take or leave Georgie, but I did like the other girls as well as Ms. Stranje, as well as the whole concept for the school. I would like to read more set in this world and see what else the girls can do.
I received this title from the author in exchange for my honest review.