Book #67

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children  by Ransom Riggs

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.

I honestly thought I was going to love this to bits. A young boy finding out more about his mysterious grandfather’s past, a home full of abandoned children with strange powers, puzzles and secrets peppered amongst a gothic old house and irrevocably creepy old photographs - it seemed everything I didn’t know I wanted.

We begin dazzlingly well, with our protagonist Jacob introducing us to his grandfather by recounting some of the stories he’s heard about his past. These are chilling, and accompanied by the aforementioned creepy old photographs, so we know we’re in for something special. When grandad passes away under suspicious circumstances, we’re launched into a journey to discover what his final words meant. Sign me up.

But this is where the initial tension and slow burn ends, and the pace picks up frightfully quickly. Before we know it, we’re running through bogs to escape monsters, fighting supernatural beings with guns, and generally being overwhelmed by all the action. I felt cheated.

Despite their very obvious invisible, levitating, nature controlling, shapeshifting elements, none of the characters here have any real depth. Most of the peculiar children’s personalities are solely derived from the strange things they’re able to do, and they all lack spark (even the one with fire in her hands). There’s little information on how they arrived at their odd home, and they seem to have been placed in the story as circus performers who ultimately become convenient deus ex machina.

There was also no need for a romance to be placed amongst these pages, particularly not in the almost Oedipal way in which we received it. It was such an unimportant and unnecessary addition to the plot; not all YA novels need this - surely we can time travel, discover some oddities, and defeat some monsters without falling in love at the same time? Seems exhausting.

For me, this would have gone much better had we had more slow discovery, more information on the children, how they came to be there, how they discovered their talents. Where in the beginning, I had a very itchy and creepy feeling in my shoulders, this soon dissolved into a numb apathy. Riggs could have kept this going a lot longer before he introduced his blockbuster action scenes.

Such an excellent premise, diluted by Riggs moving too quickly through this curious world. I enjoyed the writing, the photographs, and the book itself is gorgeous - I’d have just liked a lot more depth and creep.