I picked up Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs for three reasons. 1) I was going on vacation and wanted something to read, 2) I had heard a lot favorable talk about the book at the conference, 3) It was on sale when I passed. I can never pass up a bargain paperback that has people talking.
The story centers around Jacob who enjoys the fanciful stories his grandfather tells him as a child. When he was young Jacob believed they were true but as he grew older he doubted the stories. Then as he became a teenager he began to see, with his father’s help, that the grandfather’s stories about monsters, powerful friends, and idyllic orphans home were metaphorical for the tragic childhood he he’d had as an orphan Jewish child fleeing the Nazis. Then grandfather is killed with Jacob finding the man in his last moments. His grandfather’s words haunt him, were the stories really metaphors. Jacob goes to the island of his grandfather’s orphanage to learn the truth of the tales and just what killed his grandfather.
This is a heroic fantasy with all the traditional unknowing hero comes of age elements. I wish I could say there were surprises in the plot but there weren’t. If you’ve read comics, seen Star Wars, or brush up on the Harry Potter series you know what’s coming from the start. It’s one of the classic tales that Perseus himself tread in Greek tales. So I was disappointed in the slow pace of the novel. Every hero needs an origin story but for me the full reveal took too long and the facing the first big bad boss guy was rush as a result.
That said the concept of taking found antique photos and weaving them together to make a story was unique and intriguing. At times it feel he was working too hard to fit a favorite photo into the narrative but others it flowed nicely. Some were prefect fits for the narrative but others were a stretch. The paperback edition I had (I have linked to it in the title up there) included some images that didn’t make the cut. I was inspired to look through the old photo collection I have from genealogy research to see if there were any ‘peculiars’ in my family tree.
What I enjoyed the most about the book was the writing. Ransom Riggs can turn a phrase with a lovely modern twist. His voice as a writer was pleasant to read. I enjoyed it so much I got up from our room’s balcony over the pleasant Caribbean sea to get a highlighter to mark the ones that stood out to me as a writer. I read the rest of the book with the highlighter at hand. Despite a very familiar plot and pacing short comings I enjoyed reading merely for the voice of the writer. I haven’t had such pleasure reading the written word since I finished George R. R. Martin’s Fevre Dream (his best work IMHO).
Overall I enjoyed the book and found it perfect for the vacation read. I liked it well enough to pick up the sequel Hollow City possibly for my next vacation in July.
If you are interested in what I’m reading now or want to see what I have waiting to read you can visit my GoodReads page. If you have an account there by all means friend me! I’m new there. I didn’t even try to list the books I own or have read. (Though I did spend a fun evening reminiscing about books I have read and checking them off. I find a few I put on my to read list this way.) I just started with this one and will carry forward. If you have any suggestions of titles I might enjoy let me know.
Until next time!