First I fell in love with the cover of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. The expression on this girl’s face is so intense, I didn’t even notice that she’s levitating. After seeing this title on the bestseller lists for weeks, I had undefined, but high expectations of a strange, quirky and perhaps dark story. By the second chapter, I had to drop these expectations in order to enjoy the book for what it is.
The story begins when our hero, a 16 year old boy named Jacob, goes to a small island off the coast of Wales with his father. With markers from the past superimposed over the present, like sunken ships from WWII lurking just below the ocean’s surface, the setting is ripe for adventure.
The story takes unexpected turns, and while the pacing feels a little off, it hits its stride about half-way in when a host of peculiar children sweep Jacob out of his internal rich-boy-is-bored problems, and into a world of high stakes. These new friends help Jacob piece together the truth about his grandpa’s life and his own identity. While danger always lurked, I never worried for the characters. Even at its most chaotic, the world feels controlled by the author’s pen. The story never gets as messy as I wanted it to, considering the WWII backdrop.
I found Miss Peregrine’s to be the kind of old fashioned coming of age adventure you can read out loud to a young sleepless niece who didn’t need to fully understand the details and curiosities to enjoy the ride. Because I did understand the details, my mind frequently drifted to my own grandpa and the tales he never told about life in Hungary before immigrating in the early 1940s. I wish I could know what he went through to get here, but unlike in a storybook, that slice of history is lodged in the dark.
I’m curious to read the next one and would recommend this to anyone who enjoys children’s books.
One word of advice: don’t skip ahead to peak at the photographs laced throughout. They add a unique accompaniment and are placed within the pages for a reason. Somewhere in the back you can find the sources of the photos, and apparently only a few were doctored for the book.