Hallo, leute!So, this week, I’ve read both of the books that are currently out from the Stranje House series by Kathleen Baldwin and I thought that I’d do a joint review for A School for Unusual Girls and Exile for Dreamers today! Both were five-star books for me and I absolutely loved them!
Seeing as Exile for Dreamers is a sequel to A School for Unusual Girls (although it follows a different main character), the review for Exile for Dreamers may have some slight spoilers for A School for Unusual Girls. I will, however, do my best to mark out spoilery content!
A School for Unusual Girls
In A School for Unusual Girls, we meet Georgie, a scientist. In an attempt to carry out an experiment, she accidentally set fire to her father’s stables and thus has landed her in the predicament that she faces in the opening: she’s to be sent away to Stranje House, a school run by a woman by the name of Emma Stranje. Georgie’s heard a lot about Stranje House, especially about the torturous methods which Miss Stranje reportedly likes to use to shape the girls in her school into “marriageable young women.” Not long after arriving at Stranje House, though, Georgie finds herself feeling at home and realizes that Miss Stranje’s establishment is nothing like what she’d heard.
Throughout the story, Georgie’s character consistently grows stronger, more confident (something that I think will be a running theme with the main characters of each of the Stranje House books). Her character is very easy to like and her story is easy to get into.
The first thing that I really noticed about A School for Unusual Girls was that the writing was beautiful. The metaphors and similes which Kathleen Baldwin used throughout the story were stunning and I absolutely fell in love with the writing style.
One thing that I really appreciated about the Stranje House series right from the start was how easy it was to get into the story. The story takes off but is paced just right. Nothing feels hurried, nothing feels dragged out.
The character interactions in this series are absolutely amazing and these are characters that are very easy to get to know and like. The villains are very well-written and fleshed out. One of the real gems of this series is found in how amazing the characters are.
Another thing that I really loved about this series was the setting and the very well-formed historical air to it. I think that the jabs that Kathleen Baldwin makes, poking fun at the ridiculousness of some of the etiquette rules of the day (and yet the respect she shows for them) is very interesting, I think and a lot of fun to read!
***Spoilers ahead for A School for Unusual Girls!***
Exile for Dreamers
In Exile for Dreamers, we follow Tess, one of Georgie’s friends at Stranje House. She’s plagued with prophetic dreams and fears that she will go mad because of them. Throughout this book, we get to see more of the issue with Daneska unfold and it’s interesting to see Tess’s view of Daneska because they were formerly best friends.
If you’ve read A School for Unusual Girls, then you know that a romance between Tess and Lord Ravencross kind of starts to unfold in book one. We get to see more of that in book 2 and that was really fun to read. Tess and Gabriel are easily one of my favorite YA couples out there now.
One thing that I really enjoyed about Exile for Dreamers was that Tess’s story is very much about finding the will—the want—to live and survive. It was wonderful to be able to see that transition from start to finish.
I loved the characters in A School for Unusual Girls but the characters in Exile for Dreamers were, in my opinion, even better—something I hadn’t deemed possible. In book one, we get to meet characters like Tess and Gabriel but we don’t get to really get to know them very well. In Exile for Dreamers, we see a lot more of them and I liked them even better than I liked Georgie and Sebastian (and I liked them quite a lot). In Exile for Dreamers, we get introduced to a new character, a Mr. Sinclair, who is an American. It was super awesome to get to see how he clashed with some of the other characters and I loved some of the things that he said as well as some of the things other people said about him. The way in which Kathleen Baldwin characterized Alexander Sinclair was spot-on and made me, as an American, laugh. One of my favorite lines in the book was found on pg. 322 and was written in reference to Alexander was “She told him about Miss Stranje’s cousin from America and how he liked to celebrate his birthday with explosives.”
All-in-all, I’ve really fallen in love with the Stranje House series and can’t wait to see what’s coming in book 3 which will be about Jane and is coming out soon!