Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Eight-year-old Jake loves his grandfather Abraham’s, stories of his childhood in a Welsh children’s home. Tales of him fleeing monsters in Poland and hiding amongst a group of strange and gifted children. His grandfather shows him photographs of a levitating girl and one of clothes, seemingly filled with an invisible body.
As Jake grows older and is teased for believing in fairies, he starts to see his grandfathers stories as lies and the photographs as manipulated images. Jake’s father explains that his Jewish grandfather had been sent away from Poland by their family during World War II. That was where the idea of ‘running from monsters’ must have originated. Jake insists to his grandfather that he is too old for these lies and they are never mentioned again until Jake is 15 years old.
By this time, Jake’s grandfather has become quite elderly and everyone is concerned for his sanity as he begins to tell stories of monsters again. One day, Jake gets a hysterical phone call from his grandfather and he rushed to check on him. When Jake arrives, the house is a mess and he can’t find Abraham anywhere. When he notices a slice through the backdoor screen, he wonders if it might have been an animals attack. He runs into the forest in search of his grandfather and, to his horror, he finds him cut, bloody and dying on the forest floor. The last words he utters haunt him.
“Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man’s grave. September third, 1940. Emerson – the letter. Tell them what happened.”
Suddenly he glimpses a hideous black creature amongst the trees. It’s visible for a moment, then gone. Could this be one of his grandfather’s monsters?
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children book review
The first time I saw Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children come into the store I work at, it caught my eye and went straight on my ‘must read’ list. The cover of a hovering girl and the unusual photographs on the back are real attention grabbers. The story is told in a beautifully unique mix of writing and genuine vintage photographs that have been acquired by collectors over years. This mix works brilliantly. Although I would normally prefer being left to my own imagination, the photographs chosen work so well that it really adds to the tale.
The first half of this novel has a superb creepiness to it that slows slightly as you are warmed to the children and their characters. However, you are quickly whisked up in the threat to them, rather than set by them. Although this book is classed as a horror, at no point was any gore overdone. That’s a real horror pet peeve of mine. It is the suspense created that really makes this a horror. Descriptions of the decrepit old house were a real favourites of mine.
I hugely enjoyed this and would highly recommend it to anyone who likes their novels dark, strange and definitely unusual. For me, it was perfect! I’ll be keeping an eye out for anything from Ransom Riggs in the future.
If you like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children from Ransom Riggs you’ll love The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler