Select one of the keywords
A School for Unusual Girls: A Stranje House Novel    by Kathleen Baldwin order for
School for Unusual Girls
by Kathleen Baldwin
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Kathleen Baldwin's A School for Unusual Girls is the first in a new historical YA series (with a strong vein of romance) set in early 1800s Europe. As it begins, Napoleon has been exiled to the island of Elba after a devastating war on the Continent.

In England, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is in serious trouble. She set her father's stables on fire, performing an experiment to develop invisible ink - and science is not considered an acceptable pursuit for a young lady. At the end of their patience with her, her parents take Georgiana to Stranje House, where Headmistress Emma Stranje undertakes to mould such unusual girls into young ladies acceptable to society.

Georgiana is terrified and does not want to go. But she is given no choice. And she's even more afraid after she sees her new headmistress apparently using torture devices on the other girls (Jane, Sera, Tess and Maya), each of whom has a unique talent of her own. During several escape attempts, she encounters Captain Grey (who is obviously fond of Emma Stranje) and young Lord Wyatt and learns that they spy for England.

Sebastian Wyatt works with Georgie on her invisible ink project and she learns that it is key to the war effort. Unfortunately, the other side knows this too and Lady Daneska (once herself a student of Emma Stranje) works hard to foil their plans. The adventures that follow take Emma and her girls to France, where it will takes all of these unusual young women's skills to save the day.

Though it takes some liberties with history (which the author explains in her Afterword), this looks to be a highly entertaining and engaging YA series, in which each of the girls will have her own story. Tess's is next in Exile for Dreamers.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Teens books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews