"Deliciously Enticing Start of a New Series"
Reviewed by Diana Troldahl
Posted May 5, 2015
Young Adult Historical | Young Adult Paranormal | Fantasy
When Georgiana is banished to a strange and dangerous
reform school far to the south of England she knows her
life as she knew it is over. Her inability to blend in
with expected manners in the Ton has finally forced her
parents to remove her from polite society and incarcerate
her where she can do no more harm to their reputations.
In Kathleen Baldwin's A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS: A
Stranje House Novel, however, nothing is as it seems,
occupied torture chamber included. Georgie may just
discover she is more than an odd duck, that her brilliant
mind can do more than burn down her father's stables or
break her arm when testing one of DaVinci's inventions.
It might even save the world.
I loved this book. Within a few pages I felt the same
sense of adventure I felt when reading Pippi Longstocking
and Andre Norton's Witch world novels as a pre-teen, that
breathless eagerness to turn the page, the sense of
connection with a character who is not what people wish
to see but more, not less. Although likely intended for
Young Adults the complexity of the alternate history
Baldwin has created combined with the subtle clues to the
well-thought-out back stories of the supporting
characters made this a terrific read for adults as well.
A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS is a deliciously enticing
start of a new series by Kathleen Baldwin, in a genre
perhaps a combination of her Regency romps and fantasy
Young Adult books but with a unique flavor. Although a
great deal of the setting is historically factual (set
just after the first Napoleonic conflicts) there are a
few twists that promise some intriguing paths to follow
in future books.
I can hardly wait!
A School for Unusual Girls is the first
installment in the Stranje House series for young adults
award-winning author Kathleen Baldwin. #1 New York
Times bestselling author Meg Cabot calls this
Regency adventure "completely original and totally
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
England's dark little secrets. The daughters of the
monde who don't fit high society's constrictive mold
banished to Stranje House to be reformed into
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
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-
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
find a way to work together without losing their heads—or
A School for Unusual Girls is a great next read
fans of Gail Carriger's Finishing School series and Robin
LaFevers' His Fair Assassin series.
Excerpt~London, April 17, 1814~
What if Sir Isaac Newton’s parents had packed him off to a
to reform his manners?” I smoothed my traveling skirts and
glance at my parents. They sat across from me, stone-faced
as the millpond in winter. Father did not so much as blink
direction. But then, he seldom did. I tried again. “And if the
rumors are true, not just any school—a prison.”
“Do be quiet, Georgiana.” With fingers gloved in mourning
mother massaged her forehead.
Our coach slowed and rolled to a complete standstill,
crowds spilling into Bishopsgate Street. All of London
Napoleon’s abdication of the French throne and his
the isle of Elba. Rich and poor danced in the streets, raising
tankards of ale, belting out military songs, roasting bread and
cheese over makeshift fires. Each loud toast, every bellowed
stanza, even the smell of feasting sickened me and reopened
of grief for the brother I’d lost two years ago in this
war. Their jubilation made my journey into exile all the more
Father cursed our snail-like progress through town and drummed
impatient fingers against his thigh. We’d been traveling
estate in Middlesex, north of London, since early morning.
closed her eyes as if in slumber, a ploy to evade my
couldn’t possibly be sleeping, not while holding her spine
an erect fashion. She refused herself the luxury of leaning
against the seat for fear of crumpling the feathers on her
Somehow, some way, I had to convince them to turn back. “You do
realize this journey is a needless expense. I have no more
a schoolroom. I’m sixteen, and since I have already been out in
Mother snapped to attention. “Oh, yes, Georgiana, I’m well
the fact that you have already been out in society. Indeed,
never forget Lady Frampton’s card party.”
I sighed, knowing exactly what she would say next.
“I didn’t. It was a simple matter of mathematics,” I
the fortieth time. “I merely kept track of the number of cards
played in each suit. How else did you expect me to win?”
“I did not expect you to win,” she said in clipped tones. The
feathers on her bonnet quivered as she clenched her jaw before
continuing. “I expected you to behave like a proper young
a seasoned gambler.”
“Counting cards isn’t considered cheating,” I said quietly.
“It is when you win at every hand.” She glared at me and
the dim light of the carriage I noted a rise in her color. “And
now, given your latest debacle—” She stopped. Her gaze flicked
sideways to my father, gauging his expression. I would’ve
it impossible for him to turn any stonier, but he did. Her
knotted so tight she practically hissed,“I doubt I shall
allowed to show my face in Lady Frampton’s company again, or
that matter in polite society anywhere.”
Trumped. She’d slapped down the Queen of Ruination card,
Fitzwilliam, the destroyer. I drew back the curtain and
the window. A man with a drunken grin tipped his hat and
gin bottle, as if inviting us to join the celebration. He
charwoman into a riotous jig and twirled away.
“Bothersome peasants.” My mother huffed and adjusted the
her traveling coat. Peasant was her favorite condemnation. She
followed it with a haughty sniff, as if breathing peasant
her nose itch. A roar of laughter rocked the crowd outside
entertained by a man on stilts dressed as General Wellington
kicking a straw dummy of Napoleon.
“Confound it.” Father grumbled and consulted his pocket
this pace we won’t get there ’til dark. All this ruckus over
pompous little Corsican. Fools. Anyone with any sense knows
Bonaparte was done for a month ago.”
Without weighing the consequences, I spoke my fears aloud.
never be certain with Napoleon, can they? He may have
throne, but he kept his title.”
“Emperor. Bah! Devil take him. Emperor of what? The sticks and
stones on Elba.” Father bristled and puffed up as if he might
explode. “General Wellington should’ve shot the blighter
had the chance. Bonaparte is too arrogant by half. The man
know when to give up. Let that be a lesson to you, Georgie.” He
shook a finger at me as if I were in league with the infamous
Emperor. “Know when to give up, young lady. If you did, we
be stuck here in the middle of all this rabble waiting to get
across London Bridge.”
Never mind that during the last ten years Napoleon Bonaparte
embroiled all of Europe in a terrible war—today I was the
But I forgave my father’s burst of temper and heartily
kept my mouth shut. His anger was understandable. My brother
died in a skirmish with Napoleon’s troops shortly before the
of Salamanca. Reminders of the war surrounded us. Perhaps if
been the ones burning Napoleon in effigy it would have been
liberating. Although it had been more than two years, each
soldier who sauntered past, each raucous guffaw jarred our
if we’d been blasted by the same cannonball that killed
My father would never admit to a weakness such as grief. I
have that luxury. Gravity could not explain the weight that
my chest whenever I thought of Robbie’s death. He had been
and kindest of my brothers. We were closest in age. I hardly
my two oldest brothers; they’d been away at Cambridge and
interest in making my acquaintance. Robbie, alone, had
liked me. He never looked at me as if I was an ugly mouse
crawled out from under the rug. I missed how he would scruff my
unruly red hair and challenge me to a chess game, or tell me
books he’d read, or places he’d visited.
Napoleon stole him from us.
If we’d been home, Father would’ve stomped out of the house and
gone hunting with his beloved hounds. Some hapless hare
paid the price of his wrath. Instead, this laborious journey to
haul me off to Stranje House kept him pinned up with painful
reminders. Unfortunately, Napoleon wasn’t present to
share of the blame. Father furrowed his great hairy eyebrows
the troublesome runt in his litter.
If only I’d had the good grace to be born a boy. What use is a
daughter? How many times had I heard him ask this? And answer.
Useless baggage. Three sons had been sufficient. Even after
Robbie’s death, Father still had his heir and a spare. I was
a nuisance, a miscalculation.
The leather seats creaked as I shifted under his condemning
He’d never bestowed upon me more than a passing interest. Until
now. Now, I’d finally done something to merit his attention.
I’d hoped, not as I’d wished, but I had finally won his
squinted at me as if I was the cause of all this uproar.
I swallowed hard. “We could turn back and make the journey
My father growled in response and thumped the ceiling with his
walking stick alerting our coachman. “Blast it all, man! Get
“Make way,” the coachman shouted at the throng and cracked his
whip. Our coach lumbered slowly forward. With each turn of the
wheel, my hope of a reprieve sank lower and lower. Before we
crossed the bridge, I took one last look at the crowds
boardwalks and cobblestones, reveling and jostling one
last glimpse of freedom as I sat confined in gloomy silence
way to be imprisoned at Stranje House and beaten into
With a weary huff my mother exhaled. “For heaven’s sake,
stop gawking at the rabble and sit up like a proper young
I straightened, prepared to sit this way forever if she would
reconsider. She sniffed and pretended to sleep again.
We passed the outskirts of London with the sun high above us, a
dull brass coin unable to burn through the thick haze of
and smoke that hung over the city. We traveled the south for
stopping only once at a posting inn in Tunbridge Wells to
the horses and eat. As evening approached, the sky turned a
mournful gray and the faded pink horizon reminded me of dead
Except for Father’s occasional snoring, we traveled in stiff,
suffocating silence. Two hours past nightfall, we turned off
macadam road onto a bumpy gravel drive and stopped.
Sliding down the window glass, I leaned out to have a closer
and inhaled the sharp salty tang of sea air. The coachman
down and opened a creaking iron gate. A rusty placard
the old manor as STRANJE HOUSE, but I knew better. This
house. Or a school.
This was to be my cage.
“It must be well after eight. Surely, it’s too late to
them tonight. We could stop at an inn and come back tomorrow.”
Father hoisted his jaw to an implacable angle. “No. Best to
over and done with tonight.”
“The headmistress is expecting us.” Mother straightened her
and sat with even greater dignity.
Our coachman coaxed the team through the entrance and
gate shut behind us. The horses shied at the sound of
the distance, not normal barking—howls and yips. Seconds later,
dogs raced from the shadows. It might have been two, two
two hundred. Impossible to tell. They seemed to be
once, silent except for their ferocious breathing. One of them
pounced at the coachman’s boot as he scrambled to his perch.
I jerked back from my window as one of the creatures leaped up
against the coach door. Black as night, except for yellow
moon-white teeth, the monstrous animal peered in at me as if
curious. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move, could do naught but
stare back. Our coachman swore, cracked his whip, and the
sprang forward. The beast’s massive paws slipped from my
With a sharp yip, he fell away from the coach. These were no
“Wolves.” I slammed the window glass up and secured the latch.
“Nonsense,” my mother said, but scooted farther from the door.
“Everyone knows there are no more wolves in England. They
killed off during King Henry’s reign.”
“Might’ve missed one or two,” my father muttered, peering
window at our shadowy entourage.
Whatever they were, these black demons would devour us the
we stepped out of the coach. “Turn back. Please. I don’t
school.” I hated the fear creeping into my voice.
Mother laced her fingers primly in her lap and glanced away.
my pride to the wind and bleated like a lamb before slaughter.
“I’ll do exactly as you ask. I promise. Best manners.
I’ll even intentionally lose at cards. I give you my word.”
They paid me no heed.
Stranje House loomed larger by the second. Our coach bumped
faster than it had all day, the coachman ran the team full
an effort to outpace the wolves. My heart galloped along
horses. Faster and faster we rumbled up the drive, until the
of it made me sick to my stomach.
The sprawling Elizabethan manor crouched on scraggily unkempt
grounds. Dead trees stood among the living, stripped of bark
salt air they stretched white skeletal hands toward the dark
The roof formed a black silhouette against the waning
Sharp peaks jutted up like jagged scales on a dragon’s back.
and mist blew up from the sea and swirled around the boney
Gripping the seat, I turned to my parents. “You can’t mean
me in this decrepit old mausoleum? You can’t.” They refused
my frantic gaze. “Father?”
“Hound’s tooth, Georgie! Leave off.”
My heart banged against my ribs like a trapped bat. No
pardon. No mercy.
Where could I turn for help? If Robbie were alive, he
them do this. My stuffy older brothers would applaud locking me
away. Geoffrey, the oldest, had written to say, “She’s an
embarrassment to the family. About time she was taught some
manners.” I doubt Edward remembers I even exist. Thus, I
banished to this bleak heap of stones, this monstrous cage
surrounded by hellhounds.
All too soon, the coach rolled to a stop in front of the
dark gaping mouth. I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to scream, to
shriek like a cat being thrown into a river to drown.
Only I didn’t. I sank back against the seat and gasped for air.
From my window, I watched as an elderly butler with all the
of a grave digger emerged from the house and issued a sharp
staccato whistle. The wolves immediately took off and ran to
trees at the edge of the old house. But I saw them pacing,
us hungrily from the shadows.
To my dismay, our coach door opened and a footman lowered the
steps. I hung back as long as possible. My parents were
the house when, on wobbly legs, I climbed out and followed them
inside, past the grizzled butler, and up a wooden staircase.
step carried me further from my home, further from freedom.
riser seemed taller than the last, harder to climb, and my feet
heavier, until at last the silent butler ushered us into the
headmistress’s cramped, dimly lit study.
We sat before her enormous desk on small uncomfortable
parents in the forefront, me in the back. Towering bookshelves
lined the walls. More books sat in haphazard piles on the
stacked like druid burial stones.
Concentrating on anything, except my fate, I focused on the
of books piled nearest my chair. A translation of Beowulf
a collection of John Donne’s sermons, a human anatomy book, and
Lord Byron’s scandalous vampire tale, The Giaour. A most
assortment. I stopped reading and could scarcely keep from
my lip to the point of drawing blood.
The headmistress, Miss Emma Stranje, sat behind her desk, mute,
assessing me with unsettling hawk eyes. In the flickering
the oil lamp, I couldn’t tell her age. She looked youthful one
minute, and ancient the next. She might’ve been pretty once,
weren’t for her shrewd measuring expression. She’d pulled
brown hair back into a severe chignon knot, but stray wisps
their moorings giving her a feral catlike appearance.
I tried not to cower under her predatory gaze. If this woman
intended to be my jailer, I needed to stand my ground now or I
would never fight my way out from under her thumb.
My mother cleared her throat and started in, “You know why
here. As we explained in our letters—”
“It was an accident!” I blurted, and immediately regretted
words sounded defensive, not strong and reasoned as I had
Mother pinched her lips and sat perfectly straight, primly
lint off her gloves as if my outburst caused the bothersome
to appear. She sighed. I could almost hear her oft repeated
complaint, “Why is Georgiana not the meek biddable daughter I
Miss Stranje arched one imperious eyebrow, silently
rest of the explanation, waiting, unnerving me with every
the clock. My mind turned to mush. How much explanation
give? If I told her the plain truth she’d know too much
unacceptable pursuits. If I said too little I’d sound like an
arsonist. In the ensuing silence, she tapped one slender finger
against the dark walnut of her desk. The sound echoed
room—a magistrate’s gavel, consigning me to life in her prison.
“You accidentally set fire to your father’s stables?”
My father growled low in his throat and shifted angrily on the
delicate Hepplewhite chair.
“Yes,” I mumbled, knowing the fire wasn’t the whole reason I
here, merely the final straw, a razor-sharp spearlike straw.
Unfortunately, there were several dozen pointy spears in my
parents’ quiver of what’s-wrong-with-Georgiana.
If only they understood. If only the world cared about
beyond my ability to pour tea and walk with a mincing step. I
decided to tell Miss Stranje at least part of the truth. “It
scientific experiment gone awry. Had I been successful—”
“Successful?” roared my father. He twisted on the flimsy chair,
putting considerable stress on the rear legs as he leaned in my
direction, numbering my sins on his fingers. “You nearly
prize hunters alive! Every last horse—scared senseless.
bleedin’ stables to the ground. To the ground! Nothing left
heap of charred stone. Our house and fields would’ve gone up
if the tenants and neighbors hadn’t come running to help. That
ruddy blaze would’ve taken their homes and crops, too.
You almost reduced half of High Cross Greene to ash.”
Every word a lashing, I nodded and kept my face to the floor,
knowing he wasn’t done.
“As it was, you scorched more than half of Squire Thurgood’s
orchard. I’ll be paying dearly for those lost apples over
three years, I can tell you that. And what about my hounds!” He
paused for breath and clamped his teeth together so tight that
veins bulged at his temples and his whole head trembled with
In that short fitful silence, I could not help but remember the
sound of those dogs baying and whimpering, and the faces of our
servants and neighbors smeared with ash as we all struggled to
contain the fire, their expressions—grim, angry, wishing me to
“My kennels are ruined. Blacker and smokier than Satan’s
. .” He lowered his voice, no longer clarifying for Miss
sake, and spit one final damning indictment into my face. “You
almost killed my hounds!” He dismissed me with an angry wave
hand. “Successful. Bah!”
My stomach churned and twisted with regret. Accident. It was an
accident. I wished he had slapped me. It would’ve stung less
I wanted to point out the merits of inventing a new kind of
undetectable invisible ink. If such an ink had been
brother might still be alive. As it was, the French
British courier and Robert’s company found themselves caught
ambush. It wouldn’t help to say it. I tried the day after
and Father only got angrier. He’d shouted obscenities,
called me a
foolish girl. “It’s done. Over. He’s gone.”
Nor would it help to remind him that I’d nearly died leading
horses out of the mews. His mind was made up. Unlike my
precious livestock, my goose was well and truly cooked. He
to banish me, imprison me here at Stranje House just as
was banished to Elba.
Miss Stranje glanced down at my mother’s letter. “It says here,
that on another occasion Georgiana jumped out of an attic
“I didn’t jump. Not exactly.”
“She did.” Father crossed his arms.
It had happened two and a half years ago. One would’ve thought
they’d have forgotten it by now. “Another experiment,” I
“I’d read a treatise about Da Vinci and his—”
“Wings.” My mother cut me off and rolled her eyes upward to
contemplate the ceiling. She employed the same mocking tone she
always used when referring to that particular incident.
“Not wings,” I defended, my voice a bit too high-pitched. “A
glider. A kite.”
Mother ignored me and stated her case to Miss Stranje
inflection whatsoever. “She’s a menace. Dangerous to herself
“I took precautions.” I forced my voice into a calmer, less ear-
bruising range, and tried to explain. “I had the stable lads
position a wagon of hay beneath the window.”
“Yes!” Father clapped his hands together as if he’d caught a
them. “But you missed the infernal wagon, didn’t you?”
“Because the experiment worked.”
“Hardly.” With a scornful grunt he explained to Miss Stranje,
“Crashed into a sycamore tree. Wore her arm in a sling for
“Yes, but if I’d made the kite wider and taken off from the
“This is all your doing.” My father shot a familiar barb at my
mother. “You never should’ve allowed her to read all that
“I had nothing to do with it,” she bristled. “That bluestocking
governess is to blame.”
Miss Grissmore. An excellent tutor. A woman of outstanding
patience, the only governess in ten years able to endure my
incessant questions, sent packing because of my foolhardy
glared at my mother’s back remembering how I’d begged and
over and over that Miss Grissmore had nothing to do with it.
“I let the woman go as soon as I realized what she was.” Mother
ignored Father’s grumbled commentary on bluestockings and
of Miss Stranje, “Well? Can you reform Georgiana or not?”
There are whispers among my mother’s friends that, for a large
enough sum, the mysterious Miss Stranje is able to take
young women and mold them into marriageable misses. Her
however, are highly questionable. According to the gossip, Miss
Stranje relies upon harsh beatings and cruel punishments to
accomplish her task. Even so, ambitious parents desperate to
their daughters turn a blind eye and even pay handsomely for
grim services. It’s rumored that she even resorts to torture to
transform her troublesome students into unexceptional young
Among the beau monde, being declared unexceptional by the
patronesses of society is the ultimate praise. It is almost a
prerequisite for marriage. Husbands do not want odd ducks
Being exceptional is a curse. A curse I bear.
I care less than a fig for society’s good opinion.
haven’t the slightest desire to attend their boring balls,
nor do I
want to stand around at a rout, or squeeze into an overcrowded
sweltering soiree. More to the point, I have no intention of
My mother, on the other hand, languishes over the fact that,
despite being a wealthy wool merchant’s daughter with a large
dowry, and having been educated in the finer arts of polite
conversations, playing the pianoforte, and painting
pale watercolors, she had failed to bag herself a title. She’d
married my father because he stood second in line to the
Pynderham. Unfortunately, his older brother married shortly
thereafter and produced several sturdy sons, thus dashing
my mother’s hopes of becoming a countess. As a result, her
to elevate her standing in society now depends on puffing me
marriage to an earl, or perhaps a viscount, thereby
her into the exalted role of mother to a countess.
A thoroughly ridiculous notion.
Has she not looked at me? My figure is flat and straight. I
shall ever acquire much of a bosom. I have stubborn freckles
will not bleach out no matter how many milk baths or cucumber
plasters Mother applies. She detests my ginger hair. Red is
definitely not en vogue.
Not long after the glider incident, she tried to disguise my
embarrassing red curls by rinsing them with walnut stain. It
infuriate her if she knew that her efforts to change my hair
increased my obsession with dyes and inks. Her oily walnut
failed miserably. The hideous results had to be cut off—my hair
shorn like a sheep. It has only now grown out to an acceptable
And now this. Exile to Stranje House.
I clinched the fabric of my traveling dress and wished for the
millionth time that I’d been more careful while adding
the boiling ink emulsion. If only it hadn’t sparked that
Miss Stranje allowed an inordinate amount of time to pass
pronouncing judgment upon me.
“I knew it.” Mother collapsed against the back of her chair in
defeat and threw up her hands. “It’s hopeless. Nothing can
Miss Stranje rose. The black bombazine of her skirts rustled
funeral crepe. “On the contrary, Mrs. Fitzwilliam. I believe
be able to salvage your daughter.”
Salvage? They spoke of me as if I were a tattered curtain they
intended to rework into a potato sack.
“You do?” My mother blinked at this astonishing news.
“Yes. However”—Miss Stranje grasped the edge of her desk as
were a pulpit and she about to preach a sermon condemning us
perdition—“you may have heard my teaching methods are rather
unconventional. Severe. Harsh.” She paused and fixed each of us
with a shockingly hard glare. “I assure you, the gossip is all
For the first time that day, my mother relaxed.
I, on the other hand, could not swallow the dry lump of dread
rising in my throat. Miss Stranje’s sharp-eyed gaze seemed
into my soul and wring it out.
She bore down on my father. “Mr. Fitzwilliam, you may leave
daughter with me under one condition. You must grant me
in all matters pertaining to her welfare, financially and
otherwise. Should I decide to lock her in a closet with only
and water for sustenance, I will not tolerate any complaints
“Heavens, no. You can’t do that.” Mother swished her hand
the air as if swatting away the idea. “It won’t work. Don’t you
think we would’ve tried something so simple? It’s no use.
leave her in solitude to think. She’ll simply concoct more
while she’s locked up. You’ll have to come up with something
inventive than that.”
Lips pressed thin, Miss Stranje sniffed. I wasn’t sure
was annoyed about Mother interrupting or about being saddled
such an intractable student. “Furthermore,” she said with a
calm, “if I deem it necessary to take her to London to
social skills, you will not only permit such an excursion,
finance the endeavor.”
“More coin?” My father ran a finger around the top of his
collar. “Already costing me a King’s ransom.”
“The choice is yours.” She plopped a sheaf of papers on the
of the desk nearest him. “You must sign this agreement or I
not accept your daughter into the school.”
He glanced at me and his angry scowl returned. His nostrils
I groaned, knowing the smell of ash and burnt hay still
his nose. He would sign.
“Won’t sign unless I have some assurances you can do the
sat back, arms crossed. “We stated quite clearly in our
expect some kind of guarantee. I’m no stranger to the rod.
Eton. Got beat regularly. All part of the training.”
The lump in my stomach turned into a cannonball, and my
began to hurt in anticipation.
“Women are too weak for this sort of thing.” He glared
my mother. “How do I know a female like yourself can administer
proper punishment, when punishment is due?”
Miss Stranje got all prickly and tall. She didn’t look weak
Not by half.
“I assure you, sir, although I always abide by the law and
use a rod that is thicker than my thumb—”
“Proof, Miss Stranje.” Father leaned forward and tapped the
of papers. “I want proof that you can make something of her.
I’ll sign your blasted papers.”
Miss Stranje tilted her head and studied him, the way a wild
does before it tries to peck your eyes out. In the end, the
headmistress stepped back and lifted the oil lamp. “As you
believe a visit to my discipline chamber is in order.” She
us to the door. “You, too, Georgiana, come along.”
She led us down long twisting stairs, deep into the bowels of
Stranje House. Damp limestone walls, gray with age and mold,
around us, swallowing us in chilly darkness. Deeper and
went. It was the hellish kind of cold, a moist heavy chill,
the underbelly of the house had been cold for so long it had
into the stones permanently. It sucked the warmth straight
my bones. We emerged in a dank hallway and shuffled through the
musty passageway until the headmistress finally stopped in
a heavy wooden door. The hinges creaked as she opened it,
were met with the sound of human whimpering.
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