Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A School for Unusual Girls By Kathleen Baldwin

Title: A School for Unusual Girls (Stranje House, #1)
Author: Kathleen Baldwin
Date Published: May 19th 2015
Publisher: Tor Teen

Rating: 5 out of 5 

Goodreads Blurb: 
 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...

This book was surprisingly awesome. I totally expected a stereotypical plot (no offense but Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriager was what I was anticipating from reading the blurb) and dull characters but I was so wrong. The genre is historical fiction (one of my favorites) and had three important elements- balls, science, and spies. Ahem, sorry. Diplomats

So when Gerogie (yup we're on a first name basis) was sent to the finishing school by her abominable parents, I was hooked. I totally felt her emotions as my own and her character was extremely endearing, not only because she was incredibly smart, but also because she had a crazy passion for science. That was pretty awesome, since most MCs rarely come off as being blue stockings. She was prodigious but wasn't a super ninja like Tess, or a wonderful diplomat like Maya. She just seemed like an ordinary girl, and that, more than anything else, emphasized the fact that she was absolutely brilliant.

Another well done factor in the book was the finishing school. The peculiar characters, like the headmistress, Madame Cho, Ravencliffe, and the girls were extremely dynamic and all of them clearly had depth. Although the specifics and history of a few characters, like Jane and Maya, weren't thoroughly enough described to satisfy my curiosity, the resulting, enigmatic persona only added to their charm. The General and his nephew, Sebastian (OMG, I think Cassandra Clare has well and truly ruined that name for me. Sigh. I totally forgive her though, her novels were wondrous) were ruggedly noble characters. 

The secret spy vibe going on was too cool, and all the parts of the book (the espionage, the war against Napoleon, Stranje house, Georgie's life, Sebastian's still murky past) were all combined seamlessly and left me wanting to know a looooot more about each and  every character. Especially Headmistress Stranje (what is up with her and the Captain), who I adored. 

This book was uniquely its own and I believe it is easily on my top 25 list for 2015. I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of any of Gail Carriager's novels (either the Finishing School series or the Parasol Protectorate series, which btw is FAB) or a fan of steampunk, Regency London, bluestockings, and teenagers with superpowers (I know that this doesn't seem to fit in with anything I previously described but trust me, this was the most germane description I could think of).