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Historical Fiction Fantasy | Book Review: A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

If you love a good historical fiction story, get read for A School for Unusual Girls!

Book Review: A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

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a school for unusual girls kathleen baldwin book review

Title & Author: A School for Unusual Girls: A Stranje House Novel by Kathleen Baldwin

Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Release Date: May 19, 2014

Series: Stranje House #1

Publisher: Tor Teen

How I Got the Book: ARC via the publisher


“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…”

Stranje Girls

From just the description and the title, I got A Great and Terrible Beauty vibe from this title. Despite a few similarities, A School for Unusual Girls is very much its own story.

Right away, I loved the historical fiction feel. It’s the 1800s and the rigid social norms of the time are seriously cramping Georgie’s style. She’s interested in science not suitable matches, and Georgie’s latest stunt has sent her mother over the edge.

Which is how she finds herself sent to the Stranje House, a last resort for parents of difficult, headstrong daughters.

I liked the whole cast of characters – Georgie especially – along with the other girls who reside at Stranje House. I think the real power of the story is their individual backgrounds and how they tie together as the story progresses.

This is a book that suffers from the obligatory love interest syndrome. I love a little romance in all the books I read (what can I say, I’m a romantic), but A School for Unusual Girls is one of the rare YA books that I felt honestly didn’t need it.

At times, the romance felt cliched and predictable. I honestly wasn’t rooting for or against the couple; I was ambivalent.

Then toward the middle the pace became a bit sluggish. That was easily fixed with a quick-action ending, but I was still frustrated with even the temporary lag (due to the backstory build up in the beginning).


I think the interesting setting and girls with special talents make up for the sometimes-sluggish pace and forced romance. I recommend A School for Unusual Girls but with a few reservations.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • I have just reviewed this book as well. Honestly I pretty much digged the romance, but I do agree on the ending. It felt too rushed and a bit unrealistic, when compared to the first half 🙁
    But I’m interested to see how everything will turn out in the sequel!

  • Beth

    Thanks- I’d never heard of this one, but I’m curious now. I love when a female protagonist is sciencey. Less love for one book that is turned into two (seriously, where are the standalones??)