Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom RiggsMiss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Series: Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #1
Published by Quirk Books on 2011-06-07
Pages: 352
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A New York Times #1 best seller On the New York Times Best Seller List for more than 52 consecutive weeks Includes an excerpt from the much-anticipated sequel and an interview with author Ransom Riggs A mysterious island.

 An abandoned orphanage.

 A strange collection of very curious photographs.

 It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. 

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows. “A tense, moving, and wondrously strange first novel. The photographs and text work together brilliantly to create an unforgettable story.”—John Green, New York Times best-selling author of The Fault in Our Stars “With its X-Men: First Class-meets-time-travel story line, David Lynchian imagery, and rich, eerie detail, it’s no wonder Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has been snapped up by Twentieth Century Fox. B+”—Entertainment Weekly “‘Peculiar’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. Riggs’ chilling, wondrous novel is already headed to the movies.”—People “You’ll love it if you want a good thriller for the summer. It’s a mystery, and you’ll race to solve it before Jacob figures it out for himself.”—Seventeen

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children made it into my library tote during my last trip. I was hesitant to read it because I assumed it was a horror book based on its classification. My good friend is always asking me to see scary movies with her and I always say, “I don’t want to pay to be scared,” because, well, I don’t. I don’t enjoy being scared to I shy away from scary books and movies. And yet … Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children kept calling to me. I saw it on blogs, reading lists, and TBR shelves. I was curious. What was it about the creepy vintage-circus-y photograph on the cover that kept drawing me to it, begging me to read it? Here lies the real problem with this book. It’s miss-classified. Lauren @ The Housework Can Wait was one of the few to pick up on this a couple of years ago. I always am way behind in reading the newbies but I have to agree with her. It’s not horror. It’s dark YA.

The book makes great use of mixed media. The creepy vintage-circus-y photographs are strewn throughout. Riggs never makes you visualize a complicated description as long as he has a photograph to show you. There were a few times where I struggled to visualize something that he wrote only to turn the page and find a picture. That’s a nice touch that makes the book stand out among its competitors.

The story’s tension is fantastic. I got a feeling of dread from the first paragraph:

I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen. The first of these came as a terrible shock and, like anything that changes you forever, split my life into halves: Before and After.

The idea of Before and After is a particularly wonderful way of thinking about loss. It (loss) creates two versions of us, like a recovered Microsoft Word document. There’s the us that exists before and the “recovered” version of us after a system shut-down. We’re the same, yet not the same. We’re changed, but only a little. We’re the carbon-copy of ourselves. Before and After sticks with me the most from the book.

As for the book being different from I expected? Meaning, YA and not adult? It didn’t bother me in the slightest. I thoroughly enjoyed Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and would highly recommend it to advanced middle-grade readers, teens, and adults alike. It’s a genuinely a novel to devour in one sitting. It’s addresses grief, the notion of good v. evil, and the idea that even the most mundane person can have a life-saving power. The characters are genuine, the plot is fantastic, and the mixed-media gives the book a feeling that I’ve never met before. Overall, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a must-read.


© 2014 – 2016, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.