I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.
This book has been on my radar for a very long time but it was only when I saw the trailer for the upcoming film that I knew I had to get my proverbial skates on and read it! I almost always have to read a book before indulging in the film (I enjoy the judging!) so to the bookshelf I ran and picked up the first instalment of this unusual Ransom Riggs series.
Jacob’s grandfather has always had a fantastical imagination. His tall tales and quirky anecdotes filled Jacob’s childhood but now he is a teen, his grandfather’s stories of magical abilities and an island of peculiar orphans has rather lost its magic. When an unusual and terrifying incident shakes Jacob’s present, he decides to look to his grandfather’s past for answers and discovers that the truth wasn’t as farfetched as he believed…
Miss Peregrine’s is a narrative all about finding your place in the world, wherever it may be and whomsoever it is with. In travelling to a remote island in Wales, full of secrets and mysteries, Jacob not only learns about his grandfather but also discovers things about himself. The supernatural element of the characters of this book isn’t an entirely unique one – a house or place filled with a familial group of society’s outcasts can be found in many genres and medias – but the delivery of it within Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is stylistically brilliant.
The author, Ransom Riggs, was a collector of peculiar photographs and originally envisioned his debut as a picture book. He eventually developed Miss Peregrine’s into a novel, under the advice of an editor, and chose to weave his narrative around his various antique photographs instead – to great effect! I loved seeing the vintage photographs and how they not only depict the tale but also add to and embellish the supernatural story, lifting it to the next level.
As you might expect, there are a few anomalies that take place when tying unrelated imagery together in a single narrative – different photographs (and therefore subjects) are used to represent the same character for example. There are also some narrative decisions Riggs that are questionably – namely the flourishing relationship between Jacob and Emma, a peculiar who had a relationship with his grandfather back in the day…
But putting these anomalies aside, this was both an inventive and gripping read that takes on the familiar trope of “the others” and makes it its own. Mixing historicism, fantasy and realism Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is a wonderful debut and a strong start to the Miss Peregrine series.