The vivid descriptions and unique similes in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children filled the mind of this reader with vivid images. Some brought laughter, while others brought shivers of suspense. In his first novel, Ransom Riggs has combined vintage photographs with an electrifying story that kept me on the edge of my seat. I found this novel so entrancing that I read this spectacular 348 page work of fiction in 2 days.
The book opens with a sentence that starts your mind wondering just what is going on - “I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.” What kind of extraordinary things, one wonders. Well, it all begins with Jacob's grandpa. Jacob Portman loves his grandpa very, very much. He tells Jacob all kinds of stories about the fascinating life he has led. He tells him about the monsters that are after him, monsters that no one else can see. He tells him of the uncommon individuals he has known and even shows him pictures of some of them. Jacob is sure these pictures have been doctored. I mean, there is no one who can levitate, no one who is really invisible. He really enjoys the stories his grandpa tells him about these people who could never exist.
Jacob finds his grandpa in the woods right before he dies and is sure he saw a monster, one with several large tongues protruding out of its mouth. No one else saw it, though. His grandpa whispers to him to get the island, it is the only safe place for him.
Now that his grandpa is dead, his parents worry about how much these crazy tales have affected Jacob, so they send him to a psychiatrist. His grandfather left him a book – a book of poetry by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Inside the book is a letter from a Miss Peregrine, the lady that his grandpa had always talked about. Could his grandpa have intended for him to have the letter? Did he just choose this book as a place to hide it? Could his grandpa have been telling the truth? Even about the monsters? Jacob decides that he must visit this mysterious children's home his grandpa had talked about. He must learn about what really happened in his grandpa's life. Now to talk his parents into letting him go to the island where this children's home is supposed to have been located.
The trip is approved and actually recommended by his psychiatrist. Jacob, along with his father, sets off for the remote island off the coast of Wales. On this remote place, Jacob sets out to find this children's home. When he does find it, he is disappointed because it is old and run down. It had been struck by a bomb and all of its residents killed. The dreariness of the place does not stop him from going in to investigate. He finds a trunk that he cannot get open, so he drops it, hoping it will bust open when it hits the floor. Instead, it crashes through the floor below before it opens. He goes to down to see what it held. While down there, he hears the voices of children above him. When he looks up to see who it can be, he discovers that is the some of the children his grandpa had shown him pictures of. How can this be? He has unknowingly walked through a time loop.
Jacob, himself becomes acquainted with many, many interesting people on his travels back and forth through this time loop that Miss Peregrine and the children, or peculiars, from her home are trapped in. Olive can float through the air. Hugh has bees living inside of him. Enoch has the ability to wake the dead, while Emma can make balls of fire appear in her hands. These children, and others with even more abilities, aren't dangerous. They are just different and misunderstood – and Jacob also has an ability, one he is just beginning to learn about and accept.
Jacob encounters wights and hollowgasts, creatures so terrifying that if they are able to carry out the experiment they are aiming for, all life on earth will cease to exist as it is known and become a living hell.
The deeper into the story you get, the better it becomes. The mystery and suspense of it deepens when you find out that the wights, at least one certain wight, in many different forms, has been watching Jacob for his entire life.
Jacob believes himself to be a coward, but proves himself wrong when he manages to kill the hollowgast that is chasing him and the other peculiars. Their joy is soon turned to sorrow and despair when they find that the wight has gone ahead of them to the school and kidnapped Miss Peregrine and Miss Avocet. After a harrowing chase and battle, they manage to recover Miss Peregrine, but she is still in the shape of a bird and cannot seem to change back to her human form. What will happen now?
The book has a satisfying conclusion, but is definitely left open for a sequel, one that I hope Ransom Riggs decides to bless us with. If I have sufficiently peaked your curiosity about this book and you wish to own your own copy, there is an Amazon link below that will help you out. My copy of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was sent to me free of charge by Quirk Classics. If you would like your own copy of this captivating book, I have provided a link to Amazon below.