By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis
Category: Young Adult, Paranormal Fantasy
Author: Ransom Riggs
Format: Trade Paperback, 368 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pub Date: June 4, 2013
Summary from Publisher:
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.
– From Chapters-Indigo website.
Book Review by Zara from The Bibliotaphe Closet:
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the #1 New York Times Bestseller, by Ransom Riggs, is a hauntingly dark and foreboding novel with its early, mysterious folktales coupled with its strange and eerie black and white photographs.
The story begins with the unique connection between 16-year-old Jacob and his eccentric grandfather, Abraham Portman, whose surreal tales of strange children from a mysterious orphanage he was a patron at after World War II, incites the imagination and wonder of his mesmerized, yet questioning grandson.
The narrative is surprisingly mature and well-written for a novel targeted towards a young adult audience and its readability, effortless and fast-paced (I read the novel in a record time of only two days). But, perhaps the ease of its readability is also rooted in the story’s gripping suspense, which urges its reader to move quickly from one page to the next.
The setting moves from ordinary suburban angst to the foggy marsh and mystery of Cairnholm, a tiny island off the coast of Wales. The remains of the orphanage itself is not only an eerie setting, but becomes a character in itself, its dark, dust-filled rooms mere shadows of the past and its tumultuous tale. Then, of course, there is the danger of the marsh, a haunted sanctuary in which residents of Cairnholm fear to cross.
And the further in you read, the more is revealed about the peculiarity of Abraham’s ghost children. Are they magical? Imaginary? Fraudulent? And once this is realized in the novel, the climax unravels its horrific conflict. Fantastical beings, both grotesque and obscure come to light in a way that graphically scares its readers. At times I was afraid to turn the page in fear of actually visualizing a photograph that would depict a horror I wasn’t prepared to see.
At the same time, there is a cosmic innocence in the book, an ethereal context and tone to the setting and the story. It is, after all, a book about mystical children and the horrors that they face.
There is in the book, a creation of new friendships and new worlds, both dark and light, but both certainly occult in nature. It is a wonderfully apocalyptic fantasy that will, if not impress its readers, will certainly raise their eyebrows in curiosity, or convince them to cower under a blanket in graphic fear.
And it is a first installation in a series, which means there is more to look forward to once the book itself, ends. Certainly an effective taste to a foundational and surreal beginning.
Be sure to check out the sequel to the book, The Hollow City, which hit the bookstores on January 14, 2014.
Characters: 3.5 stars
Pacing: 4 stars
Cover Design: 4.5 stars
Plot: 3.5 stars
A special thanks to Quirk Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
To learn more about Ransom, you can visit his biography here.
You can follow Ransom on Twitter.
You can like Ransom on Facebook.
If you haven’t yet read, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” what do you think is “peculiar” about the children in the book?
What do you suspect to be the truth about the mysterious orphanage on Cairnholm Island?
Have you picked up and/or read the sequel to the book, “Hollow City?”
If you could be “peculiar,” what special gift or talent would you like to have?