Tuesday 17 July 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs

Jacob has been brought up on the strange and wonderful tales from his grandfathers childhood. He tells of the monsters he ran away from and the refuge of the home on an island near Wales. Jacob believes every word but as he grows older he begins to doubt despite the photographs his grandfather had to prove how special all the children in the home were. When Jacob's grandfather dies all these stories comes crashing back into nightmare. Jacob begins to believe in them again causing him to doubt his own sanity. His only way of finding some closure is to head over to Wales and get some answers of his own.

I think what makes this book stand out is that it's not just the words that tell the story. The photographs interspersed through out are a big part of it. I think I read somewhere that it was initially going to be a picture book with just the photographs. There are collectors through out the world that pick up these odd photographs from markets and church stalls. The author was able to borrow some for this story.

The story itself seems straight forward enough. Jacob and his parents believe that the monsters his grandfather was running from were the Nazis who were believed to have killed his family. By describing it that way it allowed his grandfather to tell his story without feeling some of the pain. The refuge of the home would seem like a wonderful place after those horror's. However, the reader gets caught up when Jacob believes he has seen one of the monsters his grandfather had described. As he wonders whether the monsters were actual or not so do we. As his parents (and even himself to some extent) doubts his stability of mind I felt the frustration he must have felt. Especially since his parents continued this doubt right to the end.

Jacob then lands in Wales. I have to say that I wasn't completely convinced by it. I can't quite put my finger on it but I don't think the Welsh part was done very well. It's my only criticism though and since I have never been to Wales I can't be too critical. The book then takes a turn into a mix between horror and fantasy. It has a little bit of everything. Monsters, children with strange abilities, time travel and  teachers with the ability to change into animals. I quite liked it and I liked the pace of it.

I am guessing that this is probably a YA book (glad I didn't realise that at the time when I picked it up). However, it is one of the better YA I have read in a long time. It was easy to read and I probably would have read it in one setting had I been allowed to read instead of work.

I read this as part of the Mixing it up challenge hosted by Ellie of Musings of a Bookshop Girl. This is for the horror category. Clutching at straws a little but it does contain monsters which eat people. I am still on track with this challenge (next category is sci fi/fantasy). You can see how I am doing here.


  1. This is one of the books that was all over the place at the beginning of the year, and I've been looking at it but haven't read it because of the cover. Yes, I can be that shallow, but having read your review, I can see that I was right. Although I had no idea that it involved monsters and shape shifters; I just thought it was a house with pictures of weird kids.

    Nyeah, I don't know either...

    Fantasy and horror are two of my least read genres, so I'll pass on this until I need a challenge. Thanks!

    1. Sometimes you can get a book in a genre where you think that someone who doesn't normally read that genre might like it. Have to say that in this case this isn't one of them. Think it would only appeal to those who do and even then the horror aspect is very mild. It's probably more fantasy. Think I'm clutching at straws with that categorisation.

  2. One of these days I'm going to read this. I just don't know when that day will be here.

  3. I quite liked this book, and felt the fantastically weird photos and the way they were woven into the story really added something. You're spot on with the criticism about the Welsh bits though, especially the dodgy American-trying-to-write-British dialogue!