Page Number: 349
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Quirk Books, 2011
My Rating: ★★★★★
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a debut novel from up and coming author, Ransom Riggs.
I was pleasantly surprised by this novel as although I had been excited to read it I was also a little apprehensive as I’m not a fan of scary things and the cover art gave me the feeling that this was to be a scary book. There were frightening elements but they weren’t enough to deter me away, this in turn led me to give this book five out of five stars.
Let me give you a brief summary;
We follow the protagonist Jacob Portman, a sixteen year old boy as he uncovers the mysteries surrounding the life and death of his Grandfather.
The novel begins with Jacob describing his younger years growing up under the guidance of his Grandfather, he brings us into the relationship between himself and this elderly relative, letting the reader know how strong the bond between Grandson and Grandfather is.
Whilst of a young age Jacob’s Grandfather tells him stories of a mystical place on a Welsh Island where fantastical and magical things happen. He describes the people and the amazing things they can do, even backing his stories with pictures of girls defying gravity and an invisible boy. Obviously being at a young age Jacob believes all of these stories and even the more horrifying tales of the ‘monsters’ that hunted these children – beastly ghouls with sharp talons and eels protruding from their mouths. This was enough to keep Jacob awake at night. I especially liked this part of the story as we were first introduced to the photographs that are used throughout the novel. Ransom Riggs collected photographs from many different sources and used them to base his novel around. The first few in the novel are quite ghostly looking and did creep me out slightly!
Moving a few years down the line Jacob feels he has outgrown his Grandfathers childish stories and forgets all about the peculiar place on the Welsh island.
As the story moves on we learn of how Jacobs Grandfather is slowly loosing his mind. One day Jacob finds him badly wounded in the woods, assumed to be an attack by wild dogs, but Jacob has different ideas – he is sure he saw one of the beastly monsters from his Grandfather’s stories at the scene of the crime. Before he dies his Grandfather leaves him some cryptic last words which leads Jacob on a sometimes frightening but mostly action filled and heroic adventure.
We follow Jacob as he goes to the island from his Grandfather’s stories and discovers a whole world of mystical things happening there. We see Jacob grow and evolve as a person and become more certain in himself and his place in this fantastical world he has discovered.
Some interesting themes were addressed in this novel, issues such as mental illness and mental deterioration were beautifully described and drawn out by Riggs. The way he brings in and connects aspects of World War II was a particular favourite of mine, after recently visiting Berlin and looking through many museums on the war this part of the novel was very prominent and meaningful to me.
The novel was fast paced and brilliantly suspenseful, I read the book over two sittings as I found myself thinking about it after starting and couldn’t put it down after that!
As for the photographs I think they made a compelling and interesting added layer to the book, the format in which they were placed within the story was perfectly thought out as to not hinder the pace or flow of the writing and each one had it’s own story to tell. Being a photographer myself I found this to be a fantastic way to engage with the readers and will definitely be on the look out for books of a similar layout.
I believe there may be more to come from Rigg’s in regards to this novel and I cannot wait to see where the story goes next. A highly recommendable book that has definitely earned a spot on my bookshelf.