“As our story opens, 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 Miss Peregrine’s children were more than just peculiar. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.”
If that blurb didn’t rouse your interest, there might be something wrong with your imagination. Although there is the word “children” in the title, I think this book is suitable for all ages, especially adults whose lives are deprived of fantasy. I personally find it so refreshing a read that I am going to write at great length about this book but not the plot as I don’t wish to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it.
I bought the whole series as a box set and I love the dark, vintage feel to it. It comes with 12 vintage photographs from Ransom Riggs’s collection that inspired the story. The books themselves are hardcovers.The dust jackets are the same grey theme. The cover of the first book of the series, without the dust jacket, is red in colour! This is I think quite different than the usual black, brown or grey. I love the stark contrast, as though to say that it is not entirely a dark story; there is also joy. And on the cover, there is the name Alma LeFay Peregrine thinly debossed in gold.
Upon receiving a new book, I like to flip through the pages and take a peek inside. I was delighted to find that there were more vintage photographs! This is definitely going to be an enjoyable read, I thought. There is this rather graceful pattern decorated near the page numbers, and the pages dedicated to writing the chapter number have elaborate yet symmetric pattern, kind of like a wallpaper. I love the details put into this book and they certainly maintain the vintage feel throughout!
Being peculiar means having a special quality that no one else has. This also means that having a peculiarity makes one different from the rest of society, which may result in estrangement. The children were taken care of in so-called orphanages as most people would not accept them into society. They don’t fit in. In Jacob’s case, he was not outwardly peculiar, but he definitely has a subtle peculiarity. And yet, he was unable to fit in at school and only befriended one person who was also a misfit, but not a peculiar.
I believe the author wanted to reflect the misfits present in our world, only exaggerating it in a fantastical way in his stories. He wanted to show that although a person might be an outcast, they surely have something within themselves to be acknowledged such as a talent in playing the guitar, dancing, singing, drawing, or a passion for mathematics and the life sciences. Anything, really, that seems at that time and place something unique compared to the norm.
So the photographs are creepy. If you look closely, they do look supernatural. For example, a photo of a girl at first glance looks like she is just standing stoically. But upon closer inspection, the bottom of her feet shows a shadow, meaning she must not be standing on the ground after all. In the story, I soon found out that this girl is Olive, the girl who floats.
The creepiest photo is the one of a girl standing at the edge of a pool of water and the reflection shows not one, but two persons. And I don’t think either of those two is her own reflection!
The Hollowgast and The Wights
If the photographs aren’t creepy enough, there are the awful hollowgasts and wights. Hollowgasts are complete monsters that feed on peculiars. Wights are more civilised than the hollows but equally cruel in their agenda. So basically these are the villains in the story. Their deal is that they want to become immortal and they think that preying on or manipulating peculiars is the solution.
I like how the message of this story is to embrace one’s peculiarity, being proud of it and using it to one’s full advantage. However, the fact that they are in hiding from the rest of the world shows the level of intolerance towards their peculiarities. I guess this reflects our world in terms of bullying, racism and the like.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and the photographs made the journey all the more exciting. I am eager to start reading the sequel and see where Ransom goes with his brilliant imagination.
Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk books
Rating: 4 violas