30 May 2012

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Title: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Format: Paperback
352 pages
Genre: Fiction
Source: Publisher

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children is a dazzling fantasy that grabs the reader with the very first sentence: "I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen." Indeed, these 'extraordinary things' are central to an intricate plot involving a mysterious island, an abandoned orphanage, a courageous teenage boy, and a collection of very strange photographs.

Jacob Portman is a bored fifteen-year-old in Florida until a disturbing and tragic incident with his beloved grandfather, Abraham (Abe). Following the tragedy, Jacob begins to suffer from recurring nightmares and deep depression. Then an important discovery on his sixteenth birthday inspires Jacob to set off with his dad to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he searches for Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Jacob explores the island and discovers the war-torn ruins of the orphanage, and he begins to realize there might be more to the story of the 'peculiar' children who were living there when it was bombed in 1940. As he contemplates the fate of the children, and Miss Peregrine, their headmistress, Jacob makes a remarkable discovery. Consequently, Jacob becomes involved in an amazing adventure that solves the riddle of his grandfather's last words:

Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man's grave. September third, 1940.

But solving the meaning of his grandfather's mysterious message also puts Jacob in grave danger.

By telling the story in the first-person, the author has provided a strong voice for the protagonist so that Jacob's wide-eyed view about everything on the Welsh island and his snap judgements about people and places are very obviously made by a modern American teenager. The snappy dialogue and thoughts seem very typical for a teenage boy, and his relationship with his father rings true too. The reader is swept along with Jacob on his quest to find out more about the orphanage and the 'peculiar' children.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a fast-paced fantasy that delights and enthralls with its spine-tingling plot and its use of haunting vintage photographs that are woven seamlessly into the astonishing story. It's a surreal mystery containing intriguing riddles, thrilling revelations and a cast of incredible quirky characters. A fresh and unforgettable novel with plenty of twists and turns until the exciting and unexpected end.

If you loved the Harry Potter series, you will love Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Highly recommended.