Ransom Riggs’ first novel, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” uniquely integrates old black-and-white photographs into a story full of children with superhuman abilities but also the monsters that hide in closets and under the bed. Riggs takes a well-visited realm into a new category when the peculiars (those with special abilities) have a soul-crushing fear of the hallowgast. Jacob, the protagonist, must retrace the steps of his grandfather to find the truth behind his granddad’s ramblings of Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children.
Riggs’ novel, the first of a series, uses both visual and descriptive passages to intricately build a world full of hidden magic. Jacob’s grandfather told stories about the monsters and Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children to Jacob everyday. When Jacob started to ask questions, his grandfather supplied pictures of a girl levitating, a boy holding a boulder over his head with one arm, an invisible boy with clothes on, and more. Jacob doesn’t believe. Yet when his grandfather dies, Jacob sees one of the monsters. This is the crucial moment that flips Jacob’s life around. After this, he is compelled to find out what really happened to his grandfather and what his grandfather’s life was truly like.
Jacob’s journey takes him to a Welsh island. All of his grandfather’s stories of Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children started after Jacob’s granddad had been shipped to the island during World War II to keep him safe. On this island, Jacob tromps around without any success until he begins to discover that magic is real. To find the home that his grandfather lived in, Jacob had to slip through a time loop. Once Jacob does that, the story becomes not only a journey to discover his grandfather, it becomes a journey for Jacob to discover himself as well.
The time loop is to keep Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children safe from the hallowgast, a creature that most cannot see until it is too late. They cannot enter a time loop, but the hallowgast is in cahoots with the wights and wights can pass through. Jacob must now decide what is real and what is important in his life. It is a peculiar journey with torturous dangers.
This book is definitely worth every moment to read. It combines all the childish wishes for something to set a person apart, but includes real dangers that cannot be seen by everyone. It mimics real world life, but also provides an escape from the same daily drudgery. “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is highly recommended to those who enjoy fantastical adventures, but with enough dense material to be for adults.