One of my tasks at the public library is to “finish processing books” which is a fancy way of saying I take a new book, glue in its pocket, make sure the spine label matches the pocket information, stamp it twice with our library’s name and release it to the public. Of course I also read the jackets of the books that look interesting and check out the ones I like most before they reach the shelves. Good times.
A few months ago, I finished processing Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. It’s one of the most uniquely designed novels I’ve ever seen. I wanted to read it immediately, but I put it on the shelves because I didn’t want to hoard it while I was in the midst of another thick novel. A patron checked it out, and I snagged it when it was returned.
The story turned out to be a strange and lovely as the physical design. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children reminded me of a vintage X-men–a wise woman provides safety and instruction to Peculiars from all over the world, helping them understand and use their special gifts. Miss Peregrine’s orphanage exists in Wales in the 1940s, in the midst of WWII.
It’s difficult to review this novel without giving away its secrets. The novel takes place in the present…sort of. The narrator Jacob is a rich but socially awkward sixteen-year-old who seeks to learn more about his grandfather, a Jewish orphan who lived at Miss Peregrine’s orphanage as a teen. Jacob learns that he isn’t just suffering delusions; instead, the world is a darker more magical place than he realized.
For me the highlights of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children were:
- The vintage photographs. They are real, gathered from several collectors. Ransom Riggs fashioned his story around these bizarre photographs.
- Jacob’s voice. He’s an honest, intelligent but flawed character.
- The descriptions and metaphors. They are far from cliché.
I wonder if there will be a sequel. I feel like the novel is strong on its own, and that somehow the story might suffer if continued. However, I’d love to read any other story by this author. I hope he is working on something new.