Published: May 19 2015
Number of pages: 334
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: historical romance
Rating: 2/5 owl hoots
It’s 1814 and Napoleon is exiled in Elba, Europe is in shambles and Britain is at war. Stranje House is a School for Unusual Girls famously known for reforming daughters of the beau monde into marriageable young ladies. Or so the parents think…now Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House after accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire. But Georgie has no intention of becoming a pudding head and plans to escape, until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Now she is on a desperate mission to invent an invisible ink that will save England from war forcing Georgie and Sebastian to work together.
I’ve read historical romance for adult fiction, but never for YA before so I was curious to read the story as the setting takes place in 1814. But what if Napoleon slowly rose to power and continued his rule over Europe? Kathleen explores these possibilities in her debut book along with the existence of Stranje House, a reform school for high society girls turning them into marriageable ladies. But this is just a ruse as the school’s true purpose is carefully revealed after the arrival of Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam.
Georgie is sent to Stranje House under the care of Miss Stranje, who at first appears to be strict, cruel, and hard towards her girls providing that she has a torture chamber. But she only appears that way in the outside; deep down Miss Stranje’s only intention is to teach girls with peculiar abilities to blend into high society’s constructive mold. After learning this I came up with a formula that describes Stranje House: Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children + Finishing School = Miss Stranje’s School for Unusual Children. Because when I heard that unusual girls were sent to Stranje House to be reformed, I thought these were ladies who refuse to be tightly wound and follow rules of high society; almost like Georgie who prefers studying science and mathematics rather then playing card games and attending salons with her mother. But it never occurred to me some of these girls had unusual abilities that are above the norm.
After learning about Stranje House’s true nature, I was eager to read more about the school, the lessons they taught, and more about the girls who are in attendance. But these things weren’t explain in detail as my attention was turned towards the war in England and Napoleon, which is a little disappointing as I rather learn more details about Miss Stranje’s School and how it came to existence. Despite that, the story does live up to its genre as a historical romance. We do get a history lesson about Napoleon’s rise to power and the emergence of the Iron Crown, but the romance was predictable.
Georgiana Fitzwilliam refuses to marry but her parents find this unacceptable, all the more reason to send her to Finishing School. She plans to escape until she meets the handsome but annoying Lord Sebastian Wyatt. On their first meeting, I immediately knew that there was going to be a love-hate relationship that will later grow to a fatal attraction as the two tried not to have their emotions get in the way of their mission ahead. I enjoyed watching the scenes of them together as Sebastian can be very cheeky towards Georgie. The romance was pretty low kindle which I didn’t mind, but what really bothered me was how Georgie kept complaining how unloved and unattractive she was. She continuously complains about her red hair (how is having red hair unattractive?) and how nobody loves her that listening to her moan meant frequent eye rolls by me as I couldn’t stand her complaining. As much as I admire her chemistry knowledge Georgie doesn’t come off as one of my favorite heroines.
Half historical and half espionage, it suddenly dawned on me that the story reminded me of Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series. Although the history and the romance are there, I really wished we could learn more about the school and about the girls themselves. It’s an ok story but as the plot progressed, I could feel my excitement slowly dwindling as I had problems with Georgie’s character. I’m unsure at this point if I want to continue with the series.