Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Published by Quirk Books in 2011
My copy: Library
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow impossible though it seems they may still be alive.
This novel has been on my wishlist for absolute ages, and when I spotted it in the library near work I decided it was high time to give it a go. Our narrator is Jacob, a young boy who adores his grandfather and the stories of his childhood. Jacob’s grandfather grew up in a children’s home full of magical characters – a point he proves by showing Jacob photographic evidence, which is also reproduced throughout the novel.
I found the start of this novel compelling, and I liked the way in which Jacob became increasingly cynical about his grandfather’s fantastical stories as he grew older. In general I took to the character a lot. He is a bit of a loner, and a geek, but really quite funny and endearing in many ways too.
Around a third of the way into the book, Jacob’s grandfather dies in mysterious circumstances and the action moves to Wales as a devastated Jacob travels with his father and goes to find out more about the children’s home his grandfather has told him so much about. This is when things start to get increasingly strange…
There is definitely something really unique about this book, and the use of photos throughout gave it a different dimension. I was interested to read that these are all real photos that the author had dug up and that the story was built around them, rather than the other way round. I did feel that sometimes the story felt a little contrived as the author tries to fit a photo into the narrative, and this did distract me a little, but overall I thought their use added an interesting edge to the novel.
I have to be honest at this stage and say that I don’t think this novel was really for me. I do enjoy YA literature in the main, but this went too far into the realm of magic and fantasy for me and although I did enjoy many aspects of the book, it was definitely too far out of my personal comfort zone! While this can often be a good thing, in this case it was definitely all the confirmation I need that the fantasy genre is not my thing!
So although my rating reflects my own personal enjoyment of the book, I do have to stress that I think it is probably a fantastic book of its genre. The characters are well developed and it is often funny as well as dark, and the balance of these factors seemed perfect. The added element of the photos gave the book a creepy edge and I really enjoyed looking at this quirky old images alongside the story.
My rating: 6 out of 10