Entrancing in’it? But, it wasn’t the trailer that drew me to this unusual book. I didn’t even know there was a trailer until a couple of hours ago. There is something so eerie about the photograph on the cover, not eerie in a menacing way. I suppose the right way to describe my reaction was a sort of ominous curiosity.
Rather than summarize the book and inadvertently slip in a plot spoiler, I am going to quote directly from the jacket description.
“A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And 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 who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather—were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.”
The book’s strength lies in its ability to transcend genres and simultaneously please a variety of audiences across age groups. The sense of mystery is heightened by the inclusion of a number of authentic vintage photographs borrowed from private collectors. In all likelihood, it would seem that the photographs determined the characters instead of the other way around. Therefore, the book becomes a sort of exposition of found-art. The blurb promises a spine-tingling fantasy and the book delivers it with aplomb. There is a lot of tension in the story coupled with a sinister edge but it isn’t of the ghoulish variety. There’s an endearing innocence to it all.
I really enjoyed Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children but its length doesn’t do justice to its scope. I loved the open-ended way in which the book was concluded (almost as if the author was asking us to continue to adventure in our own dreams), but feared a sequel. I gather from Riggs’ website that there definitely is going to be a sequel. As much as I would want to read the next book, I loathe how it would dilute the uniqueness of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Ransom Riggs is a writer, filmmaker and photographer. His site is fascinating and some of his photographs are out of this world.