Hello Again Readers! I’m back to explore once again the wondrous world of fiction. Earlier this year, Hollow City, Ransom Riggs’ New York Times bestselling sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, was released in paperback. This paperback edition features bonus content, including an exclusive excerpt to the upcoming third book of the Miss Peregrine’s series (Library of Souls – set for release on September 22, 2015), a Q&A with Ransom, and a sneak peek at some photos that’ll appear in the next book! I recently got the chance to read the first book in this series and was impressed with the blending of fantasy with vintage photography.
Although I have read stories that used different drawings or sketches to help illustrate the characters and settings, I have never read a novel that used found photographs as part of the flow of the story. Through these collected photographs Ransom Riggs takes us into a fantastical mystery surrounding the beginning of WWII, time travel and the strange gifts of orphaned children. Let us look into the imaginative and captivating first novel of the Peculiar Children series, Miss Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Our story begins with our main character and narrator Jacob, a teenage boy who has grown up listening to strange and unbelievable stories told to him by his grandfather. Through the help of old black and white photos of weird children, Jacob’s grandfather tells him mysterious tales of how he grew up in a home for peculiarly gifted children that took him in as a refugee child during WWII. Jacob has always believed that these stories were exaggerated and embellished, created to lighten the horrifying memories of what happened to his grandfather during and after the war. Until the night when Jacob witnesses his grandfather’s death and gets a glimpse of the terrible monsters from the unbelievable stories told to him throughout his childhood.
Now with only his grandfather’s old photographs and strange parting words, Jacob must travel to a small island off the coast of Wales to find the truth, determine what really killed his granddad and see if all his tales of magic, monsters and unbelievable events really did happen all those years ago. Will Jacob find Miss Peregrine and the home? Will he be able to find the answers he’s looking for to understand his grandfather’s final words? And will he discover who the peculiar children in those old photographs are and if they really can do strange and wondrous things?
I loved this novel right from the start. Never have I read a prologue that hooked my imagination so strongly that I dove right in, wanting to know what was happening as soon as possible, enjoying it so much I never wanted it to end. Jacob is a perfect main character and narrator. Not only is he extremely likable and relatable, he is also so enticing to listen to. The way he tells his fantastical story is suspenseful and exciting, yet so natural at the same time that reading it felt like you were listening to an old friend. His relationship with his grandfather is so beautiful and strong that even though you’re having fun experiencing the strange and mysterious adventure throughout the story, you also feel this emotional connection to what Jacob is going through and desire the same closure he is constantly searching for.
The other characters within the novel are very unique and add so many different levels of creativity and humour to the story. Miss Peregrine and the other children with their peculiar abilities are both delightful and captivating. The overall setting of the novel is charming and just continues to pull you deeper and deeper into the story. The journey from the USA to the little island off the coast of Whales is exciting and mysterious in itself, that my mind was blown once time travel came into play.
The collection of photographs was such an interesting and crucial part of the storytelling within this novel. As I said above, I had read novels with drawn pictures or sketches that accompanied the story but this was the first time I have ever read a novel that used actual photographs. The collected photographs that are inserted into the story were stunning. They added so much to Jacob’s discoveries throughout the novel and acted as clues; bringing us closer and closer to the many different mysterious questions that covered the pages of this book. They slowly became a character themselves, constantly connecting Jacob’s grandfather’s past adventures with his own in the present. As I read and observed each old black and white photograph, I began to look forward to the next one waiting to highlight the story every couple of pages. This book was so memorizing, compelling and exciting to read, I didn’t want to put it down.
If you are looking for a story filled with fantasy, time travel, mystery and extraordinary characters, then this is the novel for you. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a novel that not only captures your imagination with breathtaking photographs, but takes you on a crazy ride through the mystical past, dangerous present and unpredictable future right alongside its addictive characters. I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys magical characters, strange occurrences, mysterious time portals, dangerous villains and fascinating photographs. Ransom Riggs first novel is an absolute masterpiece and I for one cannot wait to read the other books in this series. I am excited to discover what happens to Jacob and the peculiar children in both Hollow City and Library of Souls. The first two books from the Peculiar Children series are now available from Quirk Books.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!