Miss Peregrine’s Home of Peculiar Children is one of the oddest books I’ve read in a long while, but it works brilliantly. The story, by Ransom Riggs, is a quick read, but an ingenius one. It’s also one of the most fun books (that isn’t also YA) that I’ve read in ages.
The book’s protagonist, Jacob Portman, is fifteen and too old for his grandfather’s stories about the incredible house where he’d lived in England after fleeing Poland during World War II, a house full of strange children with magical abilities. But after his grandfather’s sudden, violent death, Jacob realizes that his grandfather’s stories were true all along. Looking for answers to questions he can’t explain, he travels to England, hoping to find someone who might still live in the old orphanage or remember where the other children might have gone. And from there, things just more and more complicated.
The book is one of the more imaginative works I’ve ever read, and the story never quite goes where you expect. It’s one of those rare books where the paranormal systems it sets up are highly original, yet don’t have giant holes. The magical universe Riggs has created is certainly odd, not really derived directly from other magical universes, but it’s still internally consistent, a feat most writers can’t quite manage.
But what really makes the book shine are the pictures. The writing itself is straightforward, but the antique photographs that accompany the text give the book a depth regardless. Ransom Riggs is a collector of antique photographs, and all the photos in the book are authentic photographs from either his own collection or those of other collectors. Yet it’s hard to believe that at least some of them weren’t taken specifically for the book, they work so well with the text.
The books is weird, no doubt about it, but it’s also awesome. It doesn’t follow most conventions, from the fact that the protagonist is faced with genuine dilemmas with no good choices or third options, right down to including the photographs that are as much a part of the book as the text. The story itself doesn’t go where you’d expect, and that just makes it all the more fun to read. And I have no idea when the sequel is coming out, but it needs to happen soon.