Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children [minor spoilers]

Combining eerie vintage photographs from various sources to create a not-quite-horror story about children who are different, peculiar shall we say, is an intriguing premise. Personally, I have always loved imagining the stories behind old photographs, so this book was a must-read for me.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is Ransom Riggs' first novel, though according to the author blurb in the back of the book, he has been a writer for some time. As a first novel, it's somewhat obvious that he hasn't quite found his writing style "niche" but that doesn't stop this book from being fascinating, wondrous, and downright entertaining.

Jacob Portman has known about the peculiar children for most of his life. His grandfather, Abe Portman, has a collection of photographs that he would show his grandson and regale him with tales of the things they could do, the home/orphanage they lived in during the War, and their mysterious headmistress, Miss Peregrine. Jacob, as any sensible, no-nonsense child growing up in modern day Florida would do, doubts his grandfather's stories as he gets older.

When Jacob is sixteen, leading an ordinary life, things suddenly are turned upside down when his grandfather is attacked and killed by a strange and unnerving creature. Jacob thinks he is going crazy because no one else could see the creature. And Abe Portman's last words about finding the bird in the loop on September 3rd, 1940 don't make any sense. Eventually, Jacob and his father find their way to Cairnholm Island in Wales, where Jacob discovers the old mansion that had been the home his grandfather talked about. It is in ruins, having been hit by a bomb early in the War. Jacob is discourage, but he soon finds out that the children are still alive and well...living in a time loop.

I don't think I should tell you anymore, because, honestly, I've never really understood book reviews that basically regurgitate the entire story and critique each and every bit of it. I don't want to spoil a great plot with lots of mystery, even though this isn't technically a mystery book. :)

I give this book 4 stars, because Riggs has crafted an intriguing story with the timeless themes of love, loss, and trust amidst a truly fantastic tale of horrific creatures, peculiar talents, and time travel. He also uses the vintage photographs well, creating characters that fit well with each one.

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