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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Peculiar Children Lead the Reader on an Eerie but Wondrous Chase

I just finished reading "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs, a different sort of book to say the least. It's a period piece set largely in the mid-20th century that nonetheless manages to be fully contemporary.

I don't want to give too much away, but this is a time-travel novel that really gives the reader the feel of traveling through time. The author does so by interspersing the text with actual vintage photos that he uses as jumping-off points to tell a compelling story.

The plot focuses on a teenager named Jacob whose life is going nowhere. He's heir to a fortune, but preparing for his future responsibilities involves working in a job he hates while his father bemoans his lack of success in the shadow of his wife's wealth. The only person Jacob is close to in his family is his grandfather, who told him fantastic tales of "peculiar" children with special abilities during his childhood.

The children his grandfather said he grew up with seemed like refugees from a circus sideshow, and as he grew older, Jacob stopped believing them. But he never stopped feeling close to his grandfather, who remained his hero long after the tales lost their resonance.

"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" is utterly charming in the way it treats the concept of the sort of innocence we never really lose - even though we sometimes yearn to put such "silliness" behind us. It's a children's book for adults, and as such transcends typical genre labels such as YA, science fiction, horror and adventure - each of which might apply to this work.

Time travel is always tricky, and I haven't quite decided yet whether everything's fully consistent and believable. For the most part, the story seems plausible within the context of the odd world Riggs has created. In the end, though, it's the strong characters and the unique treatment of such universal themes as the discovery of young love, the tenacity of memories, the wistfulness of dreams and our tendency to cling to innocence that propels this book forward and makes it such an engaging read.


  1. I rad the book not that long ago :D quite interesting...though I wish I could have started reading the sequel straight away :( but there isn't one yet. Oh well...I guess I'll just have to wait.

  2. I really enjoyed this book. I found the whole concept interesting and loved the time travel "twist". Glad someone else read this 8)

  3. The sequel is supposed to be out soon, sometime in 2013, I think.