Series: Stranje House #1
Published by Tor Teen on May 19, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
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...
I was super excited for A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS. At Stranje House, unmarriageable girls are supposedly reformed. But in reality, their unusual qualities and abilities are further developed. Sent to Stranje House after she sets her father’s stables on fire while trying to create invisible ink, Georgiana wants to escape … until she meets Sebastian Wyatt and learns that Miss Stranje wants her to create that ink.
The summary strongly hints at romance, but I didn’t think it would take over the whole book. The “relationship” that springs up between Georgiana and Sebastian caused me to dislike A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS. Georgiana’s supposed to be smart, but she falls in love with Sebastian after about two seconds of looking at him. Or that’s what it felt like. I think they spent less than a week together, but they were falling in love by the middle of the book. I can’t stand that type of undeveloped relationship, and it influenced how I felt about the book.
Aside from the insta-love romance, I didn’t get Georgiana. Again, she’s supposed to be smart, but where does this come from? Why is she the only one who can develop the ultra-important invisible ink spies need in the war effort? Where do her special skills come from? We’re not told of her successes, just her failures: setting the stables on fire, jumping out a window and hurting her arm, etc. And when Georgiana works on that ink, she nearly kills Sebastian and then makes another mistake because they’re swooning over each other. And Stranje House itself? It sounds like an interesting place, but Georgiana doesn’t partake in very many lessons because she’s busy with Sebastian.
Ultimately, A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS just wasn’t what I expected it to be. Instead of a history-filled, girl-powered jaunt through 1814, it’s an unrealistic romance with a tiny dash of adventure.
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