Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
I had hoped to read this spooky book in time for Halloween, just because I find it fun to read books in keeping with particular seasons and holidays, but alas, it took me much longer to get through it than I intended – not because it’s a difficult read, but time set aside for reading seems to be lacking lately.
The story opens with Jacob recollecting fantastical stories of children with magical powers living on an idyllic island estate, as told to him by his grandfather. These stories were told to young Jacob matter-of-factly, as Jacob’s grandfather claimed to have been there himself, living among these children. There were also tales of horrible monsters in pursuit of the children. As Jacob grows older, he dismisses these stories as merely fairy tales made up by his eccentric grandfather, who, as he ages, seems to succumb to dementia. One terrible night, Jacob’s grandfather dies a gruesome and mysterious death, but not before leaving Jacob with some cryptic parting words.
Jacob is so traumatized by his grandfather’s death that his parents place him under the care of a psychiatrist. Eventually, Jacob becomes determined to travel to the remote island of Cairnholm off the coast of Ireland – the island where the magical estate from his grandfather’s tales is supposedly located – to try to unravel his grandfather’s mysterious last words. On the island, he encounters things beyond his imagination: the house and the children his grandfather told him about were not only real, but they are still alive, if only in another dimension where they exist in a time loop, repeating the same day over and over and over again. The monsters, too, are real. After figuring out how to navigate traveling between past and present, Jacob must make a choice that will change the course of his life, for better or worse.
Peppered throughout the book are actual old photographs, many of which the author apparently found at garage and rummage sales. They’re interesting and rather random photos, and I had a hard time deciding if the story was built around the photos, or if the author looked for photos that would enhance the story. The photos add an interesting and unique element to the story, but in all honesty, I think the story could have stood on its own without the photos.
I enjoyed the story. It’s aimed at a teen/YA crowd, and I can see the appeal to that age group, as it’s entertaining, moves along at a good clip, and has enough dramatic flair to keep it interesting without delving too deep into any particular character or theme.