Leaflet Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
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 Miss Peregrine’s 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.
Normally I’m not very good at enjoying a book that I think is a standalone, but is actually an introduction to something more. Normally I get a bit perturbed by books that spend a long time setting things up and keep me from fully understanding the worldbuilding for a long time. Normally I wouldn’t have been able to finish a book like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
But this book does things differently. The slow discovery of the world of the peculiar children is natural, and the steady pace at which the reader’s understanding unfolds somehow sits just right. It helps that the main character, Jacob, is as ignorant as the reader—anything he knows, you know, but anything he doesn’t, you don’t.
I’ll admit, the fact that it isn’t a standalone when that was my expectation was jarring. I’m not particularly fond of being jarred. However, I found the children in the book—their personalities, their powers, their different reactions to their predicament—so interesting that even when I realized there was no way the story could wrap up by the end of the book, I didn’t get too upset. I appreciate that a good number of the children are treated as individuals instead of as a lump-sum group. An experience that makes one child an academician of everyday events turns another into a borderline sociopath who, frankly, makes me nervous (it doesn’t help that he keeps various body parts preserved in jars in the basement).
In short, the character development of the book makes my usual deal-breakers fade into the background. I enjoyed Jacob’s development from a loser teen to a bereaved grandson to the person he becomes by the end of the book. I enjoyed meeting the peculiar children right along with him and seeing his relationships with them develop. And it certainly didn’t hurt that there were pictures in the book (there are far too few pictures in “grown-up” books). If you’re looking for something with some strong characters and just a bit of creepiness, this book is a good place to look.
Content warnings: None that I can remember.