Have you heard of this remarkable first novel by Ransom Riggs? This bestseller is called Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and I was delighted to finally get my hands on a copy from the library this week. I requested it as an interlibrary loan and the librarian pretty much said, “Oh, this is a bestseller! I will order it instead.” Then I was placed on a subsequent waiting list—at number 26! Go figure. Well, the wait is long over, and I have since read and enjoyed this fun novel.
The book is very different from so many others because it employs both text as well as old peculiar photographs to tell the story. Indeed, some of the story feels like it was catered to randomly fit a few photos, which is fine—the rest were really worked in with finesse. The author credits several people who collected these old black and whites over the years at the end of his book, and I must say that these are often the most disturbing elements in the whole book.
You get the feeling that it’s going to be disturbing altogether—there is death and a couple of gruesome scenes, as well as a few alarming situations. There are also plenty of children with special abilities that are supposed to freak you out—at least, at first. But the dangers presented in the book, as well as the action scenes at the end of the book, just didn’t feel as urgent or well-developed to me as the rest of the book did.
There’s definitely more science fiction than horror here, and I loved the many themes of the book—such as the comparison between monsters and World War II, the disconnect between parents (particularly privileged parents) and youth, the relationships between grandparents and grandchildren. There is a big mystery to be solved, and it’s a lot of fun to get to the solution. A touch of romance is also sweetly included in an enjoyable, non-saccharine way.
I was unfortunately dissatisfied with the ending, which did leave the book wide open for a sequel—perhaps even unresolved, depending upon how you look at the book, as well as with the establishment/reveal of the villain. It was at once predictable as well as out of the blue, which I don’t like in mysteries; I like to have my villain right where I can see him or her, yet where I also cannot suspect him or her, either. I want to be shocked and even hurt when someone I like is actually a monster.
Even so, the whole story was fun to read—if it wasn’t I wouldn’t have finished it yet, for sure!—and I do hope that Riggs continues with more adventures featuring this ragtag group. I would definitely like to read them and see what happens next.