Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Strange photos become the seed of a strange story. 

Synopsis of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs: 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.

My two cents

Jacob and his grandfather are very close. But Jacob often wonders about the strange, even crazy things that his grandfather has experienced ... totally imagined, but for some very old and very odd photos. Is the strange island and all these fantastical children real? After the devastating tragedy and a deathbed promise to his dying grandfather, Jacob is compelled to find out the truth. Jacob is embarks on a journey, only to find out that his grandfather's past—and his own future—are tied up in a wondrous mystery of a past full of hurt, of peculiar children, and a quest to protect what should remain unknown.

Know all those loose (and often creepy) vintage photos you see at yard sales and antique stores? Well, Ransom Riggs, the author of this book, collects them. And that's how this book came to be... he has handpicked some of the most intriguing, unusual, creepy ones and he's woven a fantastical tale with them. Such a unique way of coming up with an equally unique book!

There is mystery. There is lots of goose bump inducing creepiness. There is a romance ala Somewhere in Time. And there are peculiar children who will initially creep you you out but who will eventually endear themselves to you.

As I'd hate to put in any spoilers, I won't be too detailed, so I sum up my experience with this book thus:

What liked: 

  • The concept of this book entranced me. So creative! Brilliant! 
  • The ambiance—this is atmospheric, mysterious, magical, deliciously creepy, and thrilling to read. 
  • The overall storyline has an unpredictability that kept me on my toes. I never knew what to expect and that just kept me engrossed. It ends so you want more.
  • The graphic design of the book— all in black and white and with a lovely graphic treatment. It's a joy to flip open the book and explore its pages.  
Uh-ohs: While I loved the concept, I felt that the stories of the children were dictated too much by the photos to the point that certain characters felt forced. Sometimes some things no longer need explanation, too much detail can spoil the magic of a photo; the picture can say what needs to be said.

Verdict: A creative and innovative fantastical tale woven from a hodgepodge collection of unusual vintage photos. Reading this is reminiscent to my first encounter with the world of Middle Earth or the magic of entering Harry Potter's world. I can't wait to read the next book!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks Eric!

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  1. I felt the same as you. I think the photo's just stifled the possibility of greater creativity. They didn't really add anything for me. Can you imagine all the crazy people he could have come up with! I would have loved to see this book illustrated by Chris Riddell

    1. Ooooh, Chris Riddell's art ala Coraline? That would be gorgeous!

  2. So glad you liked this book, it is one I liked a lot too.

  3. I felt like the photos were too forced as well. I mean I really loved the photos, but I just thought there could have been a better way to put some of them in there in a more seamless way. I also didn't love the grandfather's ex whatever being a love interest for Jacob. That was a little icky. But overall I think I would like to read Hollow City and find out what happens off the island. I like your review style btw!!

    1. Thanks for coming by Michelle! The photos were "overused" ... I get the feeling that the author was quite invested in them. Yeah, the love interest was a little weird. I agree -- the next book is definitely worth looking into and I think since the world building is pretty solid in this book and hopefully it carries through ...

  4. I really did find the pictures of this book super creepy! Haven't read this yet, but I was able to skim over it. Glad you enjoyed. Great review :)

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