“Determined to uncover the secret behind her eccentric aunt's mysterious death, Sadie Strange, a quirky substitute teacher with a Master’s degree in comic book superheroes, takes a job at isolated private school Strange Academy. Her biggest obstacle? Haughty hottie Lorde Gray, the chemistry teacher who looks down his Roman nose at her as he tries to get her fired.”
By day, Teresa Wilde is a mild-mannered technical writer, but by night (and lunch hours, and weekends) she's a digital Sheherezade, weaving tales of strange and wondrous places and people. Strange Academy is her third first novel. She is currently working on a Regency Urban Fantasy, plus the sequel to Confessions of a Teenage Demon Magnet and the next book in the Strange Academy cycle. Check out her blog. Ms. Wilde also publishes erotic romances under the pen name Teresa Morgan.
This book caught me a little off guard; I assumed by the cover it would be a light-hearted funny read. And it was that, but it was also so much more. Ms. Wilde did a wonderful job building her characters and exploring their backgrounds so we understood why each one was the way they were. Knowing the psychological makeup gave her characters depth and a more human quality making it easier to identify with them.
Sadie has denied who she really is her whole life because she wanted to fit in and be normal, unlike her strange Aunt Pippa, her witch mother, and her psychic older sister. She also has no idea why Aunt Pippa has recommended that she take over Pippa's classes at Strange Academy after her death. However she is determined to find out how and why Aunt Pippa died so unexpectedly. The whole campus is on alert to keep anything magical from Sadie as long as she is there and she seems more than willing to turn a blind eye or find logical, mundane reasons for anything she cannot readily explain. She is smart, logical to a fault, strong-willed, and witty. Sadie has also built walls around her heart after falling for the wrong type of man one too many times. So when she meets Lorde Gray at Strange Academy she instantly dislikes him because he is exactly the type she is known to fall for.
Lorde Gray was a character that was hard to like at first. He was egocentric, overbearing, and controlling. The perfect alpha male type. But as the story develops and we get to know more about his history he becomes quite swoon-worthy. However he has a lot of pride and Sadie becomes quite adept at challenging his pride which was fun to watch.
Most of this story deals with the teachers and administrators of Strange Academy instead of the students, so the theme is more adult oriented. Although two of the students in Sadie's class have a larger role than most. Sterling, Lorde's eleven year-old nephew, and Carmina, a Non (a human without a talent/power) who may never have talents, develop an interesting friendship that challenges the House of Gray. Sadie and Carmina also develop a relationship being the only two Non-talented humans at Strange Academy.
Woven through this story of challenging relationships is the mystery of Aunt Pippa's death which twists and turns with every clue that Sadie follows. It is an important element of the story and impacts Lorde Gray and Sadie's relationship in ways that will surprise you. Their dialogue is entertaining and believable. I loved taking this journey of self-discovery with them and found the book hard to put down until the wee hours of the morning.
The story contains adult language and sexual situations that some may find offensive. I found the sexual situations tastefully written and enjoyed them.
Added for Reprise Review: Strange Academy was a nominee in the Paranormal Romance category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran November 28, 2013
Rating: ***** Five Stars
Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin
Approximate word count: 95-100,000 words