Saturday, May 17, 2014

Book Review: "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs

"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs
First in the series
First published in 2011
348 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5

I really had no idea what to expect when I opened this book with the eerie levitating girl and chalkboard scrawl on the cover. But I was delightfully surprised when I discovered that the pages contained time travel, women who turn into birds, a modicum of romance and strange vintage photographs.

At 16, Jacob Portman has stopped believing the fantastical stories his grandfather has been telling him since he was small -- tales of blood-thirsty monsters, children with unusual abilities, and a cozy mansion where they were all kept safe, watched over by their protector Miss Peregrine.

But when Jacob witnesses his grandfather's murder -- by what looks to Jacob like a horrific beast -- he begins to suspect that they weren't tall tales after all. Unable to reconcile what he thinks he saw with the fact that monsters don't exist and compelled to unravel the mystery of his grandfather's murder, Jacob convinces his father to take him to a small island in Wales to visit the orphanage where his grandfather grew up. Once there, Jacob discovers that the "peculiar children" of Abraham Porter's stories do indeed exist, and he learns that he's not nearly as ordinary and boring as he always thought he was.

The spooky cover of "Miss Peregrine" brings to mind some type of horror story, but it's really more of a fantasy/adventure book -- and a wonderful page-turner. I really enjoyed Riggs' conversational, laid-back writing style, and the main character was likeable with great voice. But the real show-stealer was the odd old (real) photos spread throughout, perfectly meshed with the story. They really brought the novel to life for me and I loved the innovative idea of crafting the plot around these unusual pictures, taken from the stockpiles of a handful of collectors of found photos.

The sequel, "Hollow City," came out earlier this year and I'm looking forward to learning how Jacob's adventure with the peculiar children continues.

P.S. Apparently Ransom Riggs and Tahereh Mafi (whose Shatter Me trilogy I read earlier this year and have yet to review) are a couple!

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