Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
This book came came out of nowhere. A fascinating cover: a young girl in the woods, slightly grimaced, and upon further inspection, you’ll observe she’s levitating.
The author, Ransom Riggs, grew up in small towns of Maryland and Florida. He equates having nothing to do being the key factor that helped him create stories about other worlds. He has a degree in film making and is currently working on his third book, which consists of photography with writing on it.
Peculiar Children tells the tale of a group of strange orphans, characters Riggs designed from photography archives. Riggs is quite impressive with the way he has pieced together images and plot about a fantastical world of magic children alongside history loops.
The story begins with Jacob Portman, a misfit teen with no friends, and parents who don’t understand him. His childhood was filled with stories from his grandfather, tales about the peculiar children who lived with “the bird” at an orphanage, where Jacob’s grandfather himself was taken after the Nazi attacks. But the monsters in this book aren’t the ones we know from our history lessons. After Jacob’s grandfather’s death, Jacob learns all too quickly that the monsters in grandpa’s stories are real after all, and perhaps Jacob has more in common with the peculiar children than he thinks.
The wonderful thing about this book is its characters. The black and white photos depicting the peculiar children are both entrancing and unnerving. Everything about these mysterious lost kids invites you in, though you remain uneasy. There is the boy with bees inside him. The girl with the backmouth. The child who can bring a heart to life in his hands, and place it in whom he wills. Beginning with their photos, Jacob comes to endear these children.
Another intriguing element to the novel is its use of multiple dialects/accents. The islanders have a different vernacular than the peculiars, and each character is given a distinct voice and persona. Often the interactions Jacob has with them is humorous and adventurous. I laughed several times at the bartender’s bellowing phone pick up “Piss hole!” And there’s the childish rapping of a boy named Worm.
The story of Jacob and the people he meets along his journey is an odd one, but then what would a reader expect with a title like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? The only slight downfall of the tale is the fact that the ending is a bit abrupt. I’m not sure it ended at all. Perhaps Riggs intends to write a sequel, but as the pages become more and more scarce, it’s evident not all the problems of the peculiar children are going to be solved before the last page. I both thoroughly enjoyed this book and am also unsure whether I’m invested enough to await a sequel that shows no signs of being written (at least from what I’ve gaged on the author’s site).
I think the idea of taking a photography collection and making it into a bizarre tale of both fantasy and mystery is awesome! I however, also wanted more. But don’t just take my word for it! Albert Berg recently reviewed Riggs’ book on his Bizarro Book Review post. Or you can always read it for yourself! I hope you do! It will keep you turning the page.
Have you read Peculiar Children? Have you ever loved and been upset by a book before? What was the book? What do you think of Riggs’ method of using photo archives to web together a strange tale?