Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: Miss Peregine's Home for Peculiar Children


The cover captured my attention.

The title, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, intrigued me. Above the title was girl in a dress reminiscent of the 1920s, wearing a tiara, possibly hovering above the dirt and stones under her feet.  Hovering? Pecuilar, indeed.

On the back of the novel were more intriguing photos of children: painted like clowns, in a bunny suit, a girl with a reflection of two girls.  Ransom Riggs had some explaining to do.

So, apparently, did Abe, Jacob’s grandfather. Jacob adored his grandfather and believed the stories behind the photos Abe showed him: a skinny boy lifting a boulder above his head, a girl holding a ball of fire, a suit of clothes standing upright without a child in it.  Abe told his grandson all about these children, who were in an orphanage with him when he was a child. Jacob believed him — until he grew old enough to wonder, and doubt.

That all changed when Jacob received a panicked call from his grandfather — a call that divided Jacob’s life into Before and After. Suddenly, that which seemed unreal and fantastic no longer was totally out of the realm of possibility, and Jacob had to find out whether he was losing his mind, or finding his true self.

Riggs creates a taut, brilliant story fraught with peril, wonder, shock, fright and tales too real to be true.  His characters are rich and complex, and they carry the story forward effortlessly. Peppered throughout the book are snapshots that describe that which sometimes defies description.  The book is awash in mystery and amazement: not everything is explained because some things defy explanation. However, some explanations in the book make perfect sense, and readers may find themselves looking at the world differently.

I enjoy books that successfully join images and language, and I can’t believe I waited so many months — and actually returned my library copy — before opening the covers of this book. Shame on me! I understand therewill be a sequel, and I will be among the first at the bookstore the day it is released.  I can’t wait.

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