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…
Design – ?
This cover is decent. I love the color scheme and the eerie and misty feeling of the background. I also like that the girl looks like she’s in motion and that we aren’t seeing any defining features other than her hair color. The title treatment is elegant and I really like how the words fit together. Overall, I like this cover, but I think it needs a bit more to differentiate it from all the other boarding school historical books and the other girl in a pretty dress covers.
I love this book. A School for Unusual Girls is a unique story with a smart, scientifically-inclined heroine. I’ve read a lot of ‘boarding school for special people’ books, and this one is, without a doubt, one of the best. As soon as I finished this book I was online looking for a sequel release date…only to remember that I had read an ARC. I want more of the Stranje House series now!
- Georgie – Our heroine, Georgie, is smart. She knows it and refuses to pretend otherwise to fit in. Even when her experiments go wrong, Georgie doesn’t waste time moping – she can’t stop thinking of solutions to the problem. Georgie’s introduction to Stranje House is unusual, and she’s really never given much by way of explanation, so she goes about finding her own answers. I love Georgie’s intelligence, courage, and willingness to do everything possible to help her friends and country.
- Sebastian – From their first meeting, Georgie and Sebastian’s relationship is deeply interesting. Although Sebastian knows a few unusual girls, he’s never met someone quite like Georgie. My favorite romances are the slow-burning ones, and this one is great. Georgie and Sebastian have a sweet chemistry but are too preoccupied with matters of life and death to act on it. Sebastian is a gentleman, he’s smart, and he respects Georgie. That’s particularly important in a historical society that ignores women.
- alternate history – This story is an alternate version of what happened following Napoleon’s exile to Elba. Georgie and Sebastian’s work to find a formula for invisible ink is for the army to use instead of codes that can be broken. If their ink formula doesn’t work, it could mean death for thousands of soldiers. I am unspeakably awful at history, so I appreciated the author’s note briefly detailing what actually happened, and I had no trouble following the events of the story. I really enjoy this twist on history that so heavily relies on young adults and science.
- Tess + Ravencross – We get to see more of Tess than of the other girls, and while I find her running around outside to be strange, I really like her fiery spirit and determination. Although we don’t have all the details about the two men of Ravencross, that aspect of the story is really interesting. Lord Ravencross is very distant and brooding, but he clearly has a heart and it shows in his actions, especially those that involve helping Tess. The sequel is Tess’ story and I can’t wait to read more about Tess and Ravencross. Their relationship was very well developed, especially since they were not the main focus of the book.
- Stranje House explanations – There are no explanations given to Georgie about the torture of the other girls until very late in the book. The explanations were too little, too late, and it didn’t make any sense to keep that info from Georgie for so long. The other girls keep putting off telling Georgie what’s going on like they don’t trust her, which is really confusing. There’s no actual reason that she should be left out of the loop, which makes the lack of explanation very annoying.
- other girls – There aren’t very many other girls at Stranje House, making it more curious when they aren’t given much personality or development. Georgie is at the House because she’s wildly intelligent and won’t conform to fit in. We’re given this reason outright and I assume it’s the same for the others, yet they act like they are there against their will. This may just be related to withholding info from Georgie, but I disliked it. It also seems like one of the girls possesses some kind of paranormal ability, which is very strange given the rest of the characters and story has nothing to do with the paranormal at all.
Squaring his shoulders, he towered over me. “What I am about to tell you must be kept in strictest confidence. You will never tell anyone.” He grabbed my shoulders. “Anyone. Do you understand me? Lives depend on you keeping silent. My life.”
– Sebastian Loc. 1380
“Good heavens, Emma, the child might put a torch to our entire neighborhood. We could all be killed in our sleep.”
“In our sleep. Oh, dear. That would, indeed, be a tragedy.” Miss Stranje set her teacup on its saucer. “We really ought to be awake for such a momentous occasion.”
– Lady Pinswary + Miss Stranje Loc. 1946
Acquired: Netgalley (ebook)