Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review: A School for Unusual Girls

A School for Unusual Girls
By Kathleen Baldwin
Published: May 19, 2015

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 review:

If Ally Carter, Y.S. Lee and Gail Carriger wrote a book together it might be something like A School for Unusual Girls. When Georgie is sent to Stranje House after a series of increasingly shocking social mistakes that culminated in burning down the family stables, she decides to escape what she thinks is an institution that tortures young ladies into submission to society's rules. Fortunately for her, the school is actually a secret training ground for young ladies with unusual talents that can be used to save the British Empire. Her new boarding mates Tess, Jane, Maya and Sera all have special gifts and so does Georgie herself. Her experiments to create an invisible ink are prized as a way to protect English spies and their messages from falling into the hands of Napoleon's supporters. 

It takes Georgie quite awhile to realize what kind of school she is really at which was kind of frustrating considering that she is academically intelligent. Once she figures things out, she is on board to help the school by continuing her scientific experiments. Unfortunately she doesn't exactly get along with her new lab partner, Lord Sebastian Wyatt, whom she finds annoying and attractive in almost equal measure. There is also danger in the form of the snooping Lady Daneska, a former student of the school and possible spy for Napoleon herself.

A School for Unusual Girls is entertaining with a fun mix of humor, romance and mystery. It looks at the roles that girls were typically relegated to during that time and the students are able to use that to their advantage when spying for information. That aspect reminded me a lot of Y.S. Lee's Agency series which involves female detectives during Victorian times. The book also reminded me of the Gallagher Girls series which features teen girls who are trained as spies and how people underestimate them all the time. Georgie and her classmates are spunky and resourceful and though they may not be the ideal for Regency Society they have found a home at Stranje House and friendship with each other. This is the first in a series and while there is some resolution to the plot and Georgie's story there are some unsolved mysteries f. 

I think this book would appeal to fans of YA historical fiction, mystery, and books like Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger (minus the Steampunk and paranormal elements), The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee or Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle (minus the magic).

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley


  1. Great review. Makes me want it even more!

  2. I like the mix of genres here - history with a touch of romance.

  3. Glad t see this revie as I was thinking of making it my next read! I saw it trolling around the Sunday Post lst week, and liked the excerpt. I'll definitely be reading it now- I like the historical aspect of it. It looks nice and mysterious. :)

  4. I am excited to read this book! I am hoping to get to it in the next few weeks. I think I am going to really enjoy it, especially if you say it's similar to The Agency---loved that first book! Thanks for the great review, Christina!

  5. Now this sounds good, and is a young adult I would consider reading. Adding to my list...thank you!

  6. Nice review Christina, if this is more historical fiction/mystery than romance I think I'd enjoy it.

  7. This book is definitely one that I'm looking forward to, so I'm glad to see that you really enjoyed it. I'm a huge fan of YA historicals. Great review! :)
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

  8. Sweet review. I so want to read this now.


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