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Monday, October 31, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Paranormal, 352 pages
June 7th 2011 from Quirk Publishing

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.

In some ways, I'm surprised I liked this as much as I did.  I'm not sure why, maybe it's because I love the title/cover combo, or because I love the idea behind it, or because quirky can sometimes go horribly, horribly wrong; whatever the reason, I was kind of bracing to be let down in this one.  And since it reads a little dispassionately in the beginning, I had a hard time staying engaged and thought my doom-and-gloom expectations were going to be - well, satisfied doens't seem like the right word...
But I thought I was going to be disappointed, and I wasn't. (yay!)

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is intensely creative and unique, consistently giving me things I wasn't expecting.  This is not to say I didn't have issues with the book, because I did.  Though I love the idea of using quirky, odd photos to help narrate the story, there were certainly times when those photos seemed more forced on the story than supplemental to it.  There were times, too, where it just felt so damned over-written. I just wanted to say, 'Pull back a little, buddy.  One metaphor is fine.'  And as I said, it sometimes felt a little dispassionate.  But neither of these was a consistent problem, and the times when the book or the tone was nailed far outweighed the times when they were not.

I think this is one of those books that you should know going in whether you are going to like it.  If you know that you like things a little quirky, a little dark, a little macabre and a whole lot strange, then yes, you are going to enjoy this.  (If you don't, you probably won't.)  The characters the reader is introduced to certainly live up to their moniker of peculiar.  Some are just mildly shocking ala a circus freak show, and some are downright unsettling...  There's a creepy "off" tone to a lot of what goes on, and the threat of violence and being, you know, hunted down and eaten, so yeah, it's a good Halloween read for sure. ;P

What I loved, though, was getting things I didn't expect.  It's rare for a book to surprise me, and this one did so pretty consistently.  There were some great lines and bits of unexpected description that just tickled me and had me pulling out my post-its tabs*.  And there were characters and relationships among them that I did not see coming, and aspects of the villains that I didn't see coming (and I am rarely surprised or pleased by a villain).  Most of all, though, I was surprised by the whole plot and who it all works together. Beyond the expected elements of horror and mystery, there is romance and history and - something I can't get into it without being very spoilery - there was a crucial element to the plot, hinging on an ability of the titular Miss Peregrine, that I just did not see coming.  And I loved it.

And I sort of feel like that's all I can say without starting to give some major things away.  As most people know now, there will be a second book (which, though it could be read and work as a stand-alone, I think a 2nd book was a bit of a given), and there will be a movie. <---- And this I am very eager for, as I kept picturing scenes while I was reading.  It's very visual and some elements of the setting I just cannot wait to see onscreen.  There is a sense of wonder that I hope they can catch and even expand on.

Oh, and I love the design of the book.  I know it's silly, but it gets points.  Almost everything about the design is just a little tiny bit different than other books, showing that thought went in to nearly every aspect of it, from the very squared-off binding to the end papers and chapter-pages, etc.  It's nice, that level of thought and attention to detail. I approve.

*"But beyond all that, above the houses and fields and sheep doddering around like puffs of cotton candy, I could see tongues of dense fog licking over the ridge in the distance, where this world ended and the next one began, cold, damp, and sunless."
Though a bit overwritten, I just adored the image of the 'sheep doddering around like puffs of cotton candy.'  ;)

Don't forget, you can enter to win 1 of 3 copies of this during Helluva Halloween!!

Click here to be taken to the Helluva Halloween Main Page!


  1. I'm glad to see you liked this Misty! I'm currently reading this one now, and so far im enjoying it as well, although i was nervous as you were!!

  2. I'm wicked excited about this dude! I like things quirky, dark and a bit different!!! I can't wait! I hope I win! :)

  3. Oh, I am so glad this gets your stamp of approval. I've seen so many mixed reviews of this out there, but I know I tend to feel about the same way you do about books, so looks like I'm off to find a copy of this!

  4. I finally got around to reading your review, and I couldn't agree more! I think the reason why I did ended up really enjoying this one was that shocking ending. It's rare for me as well to be surprised, and there were some things that I just didn't expect. :)


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