"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.A School for Unusual Girls is not exactly what I expected. It's a strange but workable mix of science, espionage, supernatural, and regency. But let's dig in to see what exactly is going on here. As I said before, it's quite a mess when you look at the big picture.
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..."
The plot starts off slowly with an exposition that says so much yet also says so little. Details are not given out straight away, leaving me greatly frustrated by the lack of information. There are a few words here and there about who Georgiana is working for, but it doesn't specify. I would love for some more details about the dresses, the world at that time (e.g. Napoleon's nefarious plans to take over the world), and the world outside of the unusual school. Instead, Georgiana focuses on the invisible ink, which is interesting but not helpful in developing the big picture conflict. But once the plot begins to move (right around the halfway point), there's a lot of action (but little info).
Georgiana Fitzwilliam is not a normal girl. She doesn't do needlework and prefers to conduct experiments. She can count cards, and she is brighter than her male peers. She is unique, so she's sent away to an unusual school full of girls just like her. Her friendship with the other girls is the best part of the novel, and I enjoy every second of it. There's no backstabbing, and each of these girls are intelligent (and excellent spies). Georgiana herself is likeable and easy to empathize with.
The romance is very focused and developed. Sebastian is, at first, the typical gentleman of the era. And that is to say, he isn't really a gentleman. After all, I don't think gentlemen would act that way and a gentleman doesn't spy and pass information. But their relationship circles around the invention of a powerful invisible ink, and they (somewhat reluctantly) get together. But the wait is agonizing, and the way they dance around each other... Err... But when they do... So worth it.
The ending brings in a lot of potential and material for the author to work with. I would definitely love to see more of the conflict that is mostly implied and mentioned in the passing. I would love to see more the world of A School for Unusual Girls, and I would love to see more development in especially world building. (So much that I'm repeating myself.)
Overall, A School for Unusual Girls has great potential and a wonderful foundation for a series. Georgiana is a strong character who has an irresistible attraction to science (say yes to girls in science!). This is for those who are looking for a cute romance, a strong narrator, a world based in the 1810s, and science all wrapped up in one package.
Rating: Three out of Five