by Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
A mysterious island.
An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very curious photographs.
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.
A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
(synopsis from Goodreads)
Let me first say that the synopsis (which is also on the jacket flap) does not do the story justice. In fact, the synopsis almost makes this book sound boring... and it's definitely not.
At its heart, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a fresh, exciting take on the young adult fantasy genre. It's a story about some peculiar children at a home in Wales, yes; but it's also a story about family, the nature of reality, and the battle between good and evil.
The narrative is well written -- almost too well written in spots, which made me think of the narrator as an educated, middle-aged man rather than the privileged (yet troubled) teenaged boy he is. Why is Jacob so troubled? Because he experiences something terrifying, something out of his worst nightmares (and that actually gives him nightmares), and yet nobody will believe him. On the advice of his therapist, he takes a trip to Wales with his father, hoping to find the house and children that his grandfather often spoke of... but that nobody believes are real. They are real, and very much alive... (Sorry... but I can't say more about the plot without giving too much away. That's probably why the official synopsis is so cryptic!)
What really makes this book unique is the use of carefully selected vintage photographs. They're scattered throughout in places that correspond to the text. As a result, you get to see pictures of all of the peculiar children (or the ones that matter to the narrative, anyway). This makes the characters and story come alive in a way that's different from most fantasy novels. And yes, the girl on the cover is actually one of the children.
All in all, this was an interesting, unique, sometimes spine-tingling, and always captivating story. It's not a stand-alone title (which is obvious from the rather open ending), but the author is working on the sequel so there is more coming! If you're looking for something that's a little different, why not give Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children a try?
Overall: 4.57 out of 5