When we were young, nearly all of us at some time or another, were regaled with tales of the past told by relatives older than us. Details might have been emphasized or even forgotten, but the heart of the stories always remained the same. And in their telling, we the listener received the briefest glimpse of what our loved ones were like.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs starts out as just that. Jacob Portman grew up listening to tales told to him by his grandfather. Tales of invisible boys, girls who float, and other children who were just as unique. Jacob thought them mere fairy tales but his grandfather’s horrific death, his final words and the shadow monster in the corner of his eye, the young man learns that the stories just might be true.
Eager to see where his Grandfather grew up and perhaps understand his last words, Jacob travels to a tiny island of the coast of Wales. There he finds Miss Peregrine’s home but it is abandoned and has been for some time. Eager for knowledge, Jacob explores the house and learns several startling truths: the children his grandfather spoke of were real, their powers and their quarantine on the island did occur, and most bizarrely of all it was possible they were still alive.
Personally, I really enjoyed Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. With it’s unique writing style and engaging story it’s easy to see why the book was a New York Times #1 Best Seller and was on the list for 52 weeks. Several reviewers have compared the story with the A Series of Unfortunate Events book series, and I agree. Both have that dark, macabre feel to them. The pictures included in the book (all real photos the author had collected over time) just adds to the feeling and helps the reader really get in to the story.
I think the only gripe I could find reading this book was how sometimes the characters felt younger than they supposedly were. Jacob Portman is supposed to be 16 but often his actions and reactions to events makes him feel younger. The same can be said for Emma, another character in the book. She too is supposed to be about 16 and I had to keep reminding myself that because at times it felt more like she was about 12.
While the book itself is touted as a “young adult” novel, adults of any age would enjoy this book. Younger readers might find it a bit too frightening, but every reader is different. Personally, when I was a young girl I would have devoured this book – something I actually did as an adult.
The copy of the book I got from the library had an excerpt from the second book in the series. The book itself has just hit the shelves in late February and I will be keeping an eye out for it at my library.