“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.”
The debut novel by Ransom Riggs, originally published in 2011, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a young adult book that combines a collection of vintage photographs with a narrative led by Jacob, a teenage boy who follows clues from his grandfather’s old photographs. Led to a large, abandoned orphanage on a Welsh island, Jacob begins an adventure that spans different worlds and times. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and about their special powers, as well as the powers of their enemies. Chosen to protect the Peculiar Children, Jacob must discover his own power to save his new friends from the nightmarish Hollows and Wights, who are led by the mysterious Mr Barron.
The following post is a review of only the book. You can read my review of the film adaptation in comparison to the book here.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a book that you will want to read as soon as you have picked it up off of the shelf. With a beautiful production of its ghostly front cover and the use of high-quality photographs scattered inside, the whole look and feel of this book makes you want to jump into this intriguing world of peculiarity straight away. Even minutes after buying this book I found myself hooked and not wanting to put it down, restless to dive in as soon as I could to find out what these disturbingly creepy pictures were all about.
Combining real-life vintage photographs, taken from various personal collections, with a complex and well-developed fictional story, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is an incredibly unique and intriguing read. For a young adult book, this is one of the most mature stories I have experienced in a long while. Whilst this fantasy is based around a group of children, there are many adult themes and a dark tone that runs throughout, ensuring that older readers will be just as invested from start to finish.
Full of inventive mystery, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children may be slow-paced at times, but the bleakly curious atmosphere keeps you both engaged and on the edge of your seat, as you enter a world full of imagination and uncomfortable tension. The use of the real-life pictures, as well – knowing that they are real and that they have their own mystery behind them – make the story even more creepy, as they bring these fictional characters to life, despite their quirky attributes and setting.
It’s not often that a story filled with such fantasy can feel so real, especially with the large focuses on time-travel, eternal life, gory human-eating monsters, and the special abilities of its main characters, but Riggs uses such brilliant descriptions and detail that it’s easy to picture yourself amongst these Peculiar children and the magic of their haunted house.
My only annoyance with the book is that I didn’t realise that it was a part of a trilogy, so it was frustrating to realise that a conclusion wasn’t going to be met as I reached the final few chapters. However, this first book does end on an exciting point in the story, so you’ll definitely want to carry on the journey with Jacob and his new friends as soon as you have put it down.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was adapted into a film in 2016, which you can read my Book vs. Film Review for soon, and watch the trailer for below: