Goodreads: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Series: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children #1
Source: Publisher (Quirk Books) for Review
Published: June 7, 2011
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.
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.
Note: I was sent a beautiful box set of the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series for review by Quirk Books, as you can see in the photo above. In addition to the three books, this box set comes with a collector’s postcard featuring some of the characters, using the type of vintage photographs found throughout the books themselves. This review, however, is just for book 1, as I tend to review books individually instead of by series. I hope to have reviews of books 2 and 3 up in the future.
I’ve been putting off reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children since its release because I was always under the vague impression it was some kind of horror story, or at least that it was decidedly creepy, and I do not do creepy. No creepy movies, no creepy books. So, I was actually quite excited when my lovely co-blogger Krysta pointed out that Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is better thought of as just a fantasy book. It turns out she’s right. And since I was expecting fantasy, with the occasional monster, I was not disappointed (as some reviewers have been) that the book isn’t really a scary one. I got exactly what I thought I would, and it was exciting.
The plot follows teenager Jake as he tries to piece together unbelievable stories about monsters and flying children and invisible boys from his grandfather’s past. The book, then, is part mystery, part quest as Jake searches for these, well, peculiar people. With the introduction of the monsters in the latter part of the story, the book turns into action-adventure. So while the tale kept me captivated, and I was stuck to my seat turning the pages to see what happened next, I was at no point scared. There’s a marvelous blending of genres here, but I wouldn’t say horror is among them. The only thing approaching “creepy” is the foggy, old-timey island setting.
Riggs also does a nice job with character development, ranging from Jake himself (who must struggle to determine what is real and what is imaginary) to his father to the peculiar children under Miss Peregrine’s care. I did find the blooming romance between Jake and another character unconvincing, but this book isn’t about the romance, so it’s not a huge flaw. The looks into character’s minds and their motivations and their hopes and dreams are far more entrancing.
The vintage photographs that Riggs includes throughout the story are a nice touch, and I give the book props for doing something that’s utterly unique in the YA market. In terms of actual execution, however, I thought the photographs a bit hit or miss. Some corresponded well with the story and did add another dimension. Others, however, seemed forced into the narrative. For instance, photographs that are clearly of different people are said to be of the same person, or photographs that don’t quite match a character’s description get a lengthy explanation justifying the differences.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this story and do recommend it. With engaging characters, an eerie setting, and a plot full of twists and turns, this is YA fantasy worth reading.