Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

by Ransom Riggs

Hardcover, 2011




Quirk Books (2011), Edition: 1st, 352 pages


After a family tragedy, Jacob feels compelled to explore an abandoned orphanage on an island off the coast of Wales, discovering disturbing facts about the children who were kept there.

Media reviews

Boken är knappast ett stilistiskt mästerverk. Dialogerna krystas stundom fram och vissa figurer är lika blodfattiga som de spöken som förföljer dem. Det som gör verket unikt är bilderna
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The author’s ability to use the photos to play with the reader’s imagination, while still holding the tension of the plot, is extraordinary. This kind of device can feel like a self-conscious reminder of the authorial hand, but this is not the case in Miss Peregrine’s Home.
In Miss Peregrine’s, a teenager decides to investigate the stories his grandfather told him about an island off the coast of Wales. He finds more than he bargained for, of course, and there are adventures, involving a group of kids with remarkable abilities which are almost, but not quite, entirely similar to mutants from X-Men comics. For a story constructed to make use of a collection of vintage snapshots, it’s impressively cohesive, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with yet another recounting of the hero’s journey from callow youth to manhood. But the book never lives up to its own aesthetic, and the story refuses to get past surface level on the occasional odd idea or intriguing concept. Whatever its faults, Miss Peregrine’s only true sin is that, presentation aside, it isn’t really that peculiar.
Entertainment Weekly
Those Creepy Pictures Explained The idea for Miss Peregrine's Home popped into Ransom Riggs' head when he ran across some sinister-looking vintage photos, which ''suggest stories even though you don't know who the people are or exactly when they were taken.'' As he began writing, he kept searching for images, even combing swap meets and flea markets. ''I was developing the story as I was finding the photos. I'd find a particularly evocative photo and I'd say, 'I need to work this in somehow.' '' Most are reproduced in the novel ''as is,'' but a few have been digitally altered. Riggs says he ended up with more photos than he could use: ''I have a nice big fat backlog for the second book.'' — Keith Staskiewicz
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. This is a novel with ''movie adaptation'' written into its powerful DNA. B+

User reviews

LibraryThing member lkernagh
Okay, how can anyone resist at least glancing at a book with such a Gothic title and the intriguing cover photo of a levitating girl in period piece dress? Not me, that is for sure!

the YA narrator of this story is 16 year old Jacob. Like most kids, Jacob was fascinated by the strange, outlandish tales his grandfather would tell Jacob of his time spent at a home on an island off the coast of Wales during the second World War. A home filled with, according to the tales Jacob's grandfather told, peculiar children with unique abilities. As a teenager, Jacob grows to question his grandfather's tall tales as myths and lies until the day of his grandfather's unexpected death, leaving Jacob facing nightmares and countless sessions with a therapist. When Jacob discovers a mysterious letter, he decides to journey to Wales to visit the place where his grandfather grew up.

This story drew me in with the prologue and I settled in expecting a haunting, Gothic ride of creepiness and, well, peculiarity. The first couple of chapters, after the prologue, left me a little disappointed and wondering where the story I was expecting had disappeared to. I was starting to feel that a bait and switch had occurred and I wasn't overly amused at that prospect, but the odd sniff of a creepy Gothic mystery would peek out at me from time to time, along with the intriguing Victorian-like photos of unusual portraits that cropped up from time to time, so I continued reading. I am so glad I did. Yes, the story did grow into something fascinating and did finally became a page-turning adventure for me. Not quite the Gothic horror I was expecting but still enough creepiness - and monsters, lets not forget monsters! - to make this a fun, October/Halloween read for anyone that like to ramp up their creepy, suspense reading during that time of year.

Overall, a good alternate reality adventure with a bit of Gothic creepiness, Victorian weirdness (courtesy of the photos scattered throughout the book) packed in a time travel ride I think both YA and adults will enjoy. The ending left off with the potential for a sequel so, one can always hope that there is a book #2 in the works under Riggs' pen.
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LibraryThing member auntmarge64
What a treat this book is! Part suspense, part fantasy, and beguilingly unique.

A teenage boy (Jacob) finds his grandfather dying - the grandfather who used to tell fantastic stories of his childhood at a strange island orphanage in Wales and illustrate his tales with photos of odd-looking children and descriptions of monsters. The grandfather pleads with him to go to the island, where he'll be safe, whispers some enigmatic phrases and then "I should've told you a long time ago", and dies, and as Jacob copes with his grief, he determines to travel to the island and search out the truth. What he finds will forever change his life.

Magical, thrilling, and lovingly illustrated with the photos and letters described in the story. This is one of those books that will appeal to adults and older kids equally, and I'm going to pass it on to my 11- and 20-year old nieces and see what they think.
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LibraryThing member arielfl
This seems to be a very polarizing book. People seem to either love it or hate it. Sadly I was on the disappointed side. I won't rehash the plot, there was so little and it seems to be completely raked over in other reviews. The main problem for me was that the pictures were the focus and the story was an after thought. There are places where the author is really reaching to connect the pictures to the story. A secondary problem was that the main character was making out with a girl who made out with his grandfather. Too weird for me. I thought the creepy pictures would facilitate a great story but something got lost in the execution of the book. I didn't connect enough to the characters in the book to want to pursue a sequel. I think it will be enough to leaf through the pictures. By the way, I read this for the R.I.P. challenge currently being held over at Stainless Steel Droppings. You should swing by and check out some of the other reviews as this seems to be a popular challenge choice.… (more)
LibraryThing member Cailin
I loved the old pictures and enjoyed the story but somehow thought it could be better. I felt some of the characters were underdeveloped. I enjoyed the book but it kind fo fell flat for me.
LibraryThing member ken1952
A fine fantasy novel, accompanied by eerie photographs, about a teen traumatized by his grandfather's death. His desire to learn the truth about his grandfather's life leads him to an island off Wales where he learns the secrets, wonders and dangers of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Looking forward to the next installment.… (more)
LibraryThing member phoebesmum
Another much-hyped but disappointing title. I was rather left feeling that the author is unfamiliar with the fantasy genre and is under the touching impression that he’s created something new and terribly clever. Poor dear. No.

A nondescript American teenager persuades his father to let him visit a remote Welsh island to track down his grandfather’s fantastic stories of children with remarkable features and abilities and the monsters who hunt them, and finds those children still alive, protected by a loop in time that resets itself every day, on a certain date in WWII. So far, so commonplace. The McGuffin here is the inclusion of a selection of weird and creepy found photographs, which are supposed to illustrate the text. Sometimes they do; sometimes they get in the way. Sometimes the text appears to have been manipulated by the author specifically to include a particular photograph, and sometimes the photos don’t seem to fit at all. Still, full marks for effort there.

Less than full marks, I’m afraid, for research: the dialogue is full of Americanisms (we don’t wear ‘slickers’, just for a kick-off), and, even where the author has tried to get it right he sometimes gets it wrong. He knows, for example, that the British nowadays use the metric system – officially, that is, I don’t know anyone who actually does. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know that it wasn’t current in the Second World War, and I’m afraid I laughed immoderately when his WWII era children talked about ‘metres’.
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
Highly creative and original, this was indeed a very interesting book. Shiny bright in some chapters, but lacking in patina in the later pages, much has been said about this book. There are some very positive comments, and then others could not abide the tale. I'm smack in the middle of feeling luke warm.

For most of his life, Jacob has listened to graphic tales spoken by his grandfather. Attributing the conversations to dementia, Jacob listened with interest, then boredom. When his grandfather is killed by a strange creature, Jacob begins a quest to get to the bottom of his grandfather's references.

Journeying with his father to a secluded island in Wales, Jacob finds strange children who are particularly abnormal. Among those in the care of Miss Peregrine is a girl who can float, another who has a mouth in front and in back of her face, a young man who can lift incredibly large boulders, a boy who is invisible and a charming girl who flicks fire at the end of her fingers.

Realizing that these are those mentioned by his grandfather, Jacob is able to transport into a time warp -- a loop where the date is always the same and time is frozen in place.

Augmented by various photos of the peculiars throughout the book, done in sepia duotone, the tale becomes more eerie and surreal.

Realizing that his grandfather was a peculiar and he is as well, Jacob must make a decision to stay or return home with his father.

The first chapters were wonderfully creative, but the later part of the book spun out of control and chase scenes, boogiemen and gore prevailed.

Guardedly recommended.
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LibraryThing member janeajones
I read this book because I saw an article in the local paper about the author visiting a Sarasota school from which he had graduated -- as it happened he had graduated from the school the same year my son did, and they had been classmates though not close friends. I was intrigued.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a YA gothic fantasy novel that begins in Englewood, Florida, where Jacob Portman's grandfather Abraham is killed by what the police determine must be a wild animal. But sixteen-year old Jacob was present at the attack and remembers seeing something else that he cannot describe. He hears his grandfather's dying words: "Go the island, Yacob. Here it is not safe.... Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man's grave. September third, 1940."

Thus begins Jacob's quest for the Welsh island where his orphaned grandfather was raised before WWII. It takes most of the rest of the novel for Jacob to decipher his grandfather's cryptic message and discover the mystery of the "peculiar children." While some of the plotting is predictable and some of writing reflects the efforts of a first novel, an intriguing and original aspect of the book is the incorporation of vintage "found" photos of both "freaks" and ordinary people to illustrate the book.… (more)
LibraryThing member Kelly_Mills
Based on all the hype I thought I would love this book. It wasn't bad by any means, but I didn't find it to be anything special either. I actually liked the concept of the book more than the story. The author wrote a plot around some antique photos, which is a unique approach. However I found that I didn't particularly like any of the characters and although the book ends on a cliffhanger of sorts, I'm not inspired to read the sequel to find out what happens. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I'm unable ro recommend this book.… (more)
LibraryThing member PAPatrick
A great add to my collection for the students in my senior secondary creative writing class: here's another way of Making Story--collect and assemble old photographs about which you know nothing. But that's its problem as meaningful fiction: it reads like a plot thinly strung together because of the existence of a bunch of old photographs. Where it gets really bad is when the author actually adds a seemingly dead character (about whose death nothing much is ever made) because he happens to be in possession of a picture of a boy in bed reflected in a bedroom mirror. I cannot recommend this book as anything but an oddity.… (more)
LibraryThing member wiremonkey
If you’ve browsed the YA shelves lately, you will have probably chanced upon a thick-ish book with a black and white cover. The title is written in old-fashioned script. The photo on the cover is of a pudge-faced girl in what looks like a turn of the century shift, a sort of tiara shading her eyes. If you look closer, you will notice that she is floating. On the back are other intriguing black and white photos. Two bald headed clown children. A girl standing alone be a pond, but the pond reflects two girls. A cloaked man and a boy going towards the light through a tunnel. A boy dressed as a bunny, crumpled on the sidewalk in despair.

Intrigued? I know I was. I finally got my hands on a copy (some lovely soul donated it to my library) and had some time to read it this March break.

The story is told through the perspective of Jacob, a slacker from a wealthy family in Florida. He grew up on his grandfather’s stories, of monsters in his native Poland, of the war and how it decimated his family, and of his time as an orphan in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. When Jacob witnesses the violent death of his grandfather, everyone thinks he has had a nervous breakdown, including himself. It takes a trip to the small little Welsh island and to the home for peculiar children for him to find out the truth.

Through out this very creepy story are black and white pictures the author has used with permission form their collectors. And this is the part I find the most fascinating – the photos are all real. They have been collected through garage sales, bazaars by a few officianados. Riggs uses the photos as compliments to the text- they depict the peculiar children – the girl on the cover for instance turns out to be Olive the levitating girl. There is an invisible boy. A strong girl.

Another original aspect of the story is Riggs’ manipulation of time. The home lives in a time loop- where they re-live the same day over and over. This is what keeps them safe from the monsters and from the suspicious eyes of a world not ready to accept them.

I enjoyed this story quite a bit- the fantastic elements were well-thought out, imaginative and original. The character of Jacob, a typical teenage boy with not a lot of ambition or drive, is well-developed and believable as is his love interest Emma, a girl who can make fire out of her hands.

Riggs leaves the ending open for a sequel, though not so much in a bad spot that you want to kidnap the author and make them tell you the ending right now (the second Hunger Games anyone?). Still, I look forward to the next installment if only to get a glimpse at some of the fascinating photos.

But don’t take my word for it- watch his book trailer. Riggs was a filmmaker before he was a novelist, so it captures the creepy feel of the book wonderfully!
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LibraryThing member ed.pendragon
There is a technique storytellers use whereby cues — words, phrases, scenes, characters suggested by audience members — are randomly inserted into an improvised narrative. Italo Calvino built up his novel The Castle of Crossed Destinies upon a sequence of Tarot cards, using the images to suggest not only a possible narrative but also to link to other classic narratives. These processes are similar to the ways in which Ransom Riggs constructs 16-year-old Jacob Portman’s journey from suburban Florida to a wet and windy island off the coast of Wales. Authentic ‘found’ vintage photographs of sometimes strange individuals placed in enigmatic positions or curious scenarios — these are the bones on which the author constructs his fantasy of children (with, shall we say, unusual talents) and the dangers they potentially face. For the reader the inclusion of these photos at appropriate points in the text is not only an added bonus but an integral and highly effective facet of the tale.

Jacob’s grandfather has regaled him with stories of his escape from wartime Poland to a place of refuge in West Wales, the titular Home for Peculiar Children run by the equally peculiar Miss Alma LeFay Peregrine. He is taken to Cairnholm Island by his amateur ornithologist father for a therapeutic holiday — this after the trauma of witnessing his grandfather’s violent demise — in part to resolve the unanswered questions that he’s left with. He finds the home in ruins, bombed during the war, but whenever he visits a prehistoric tomb beforehand he finds that the house returns to its former splendour. And he discovers that at those times it is inhabited…

Ransom Riggs’ first novel has many attractive features for a fantasy: initial mystery (exactly what did Jacob’s grandfather do on his ‘hunting trips’?), the increasing appearance of magic (the incredible powers of individuals, travel elsewhere in time and space through a portal) and menacing monsters (what exactly are wights and hollowghasts?). After a slow start the story’s pacing then starts to grip the reader and, as opposed to novels where it isn’t clear till the final few pages, here there is a clear sense of a beginning of a promising series. But is the plot driver really only a random-ish selection and sequencing of weird photos, however unexpected they may be?

I’ve generally avoided reviews and discussion of this book and so I don’t know if what I’m about to say is already known; nor do I know if my theory is, however plausible, way wide of the mark or merely coincidence. But I offer it as a chance to look aslant at the story, through half-closed eyes as it were, and that by throwing light on the novel from a different angle new aspects may be revealed.

Ten years of living in West Wales made me curious about the island of Cairnholm, site of a small fishing community and Miss Peregrine’s Home. ‘Holm’ is a common name for an offshore island around the coast of Wales, a legacy of Viking raids and settlement around a millennium or so ago; the ‘cairn’ element refers to a Neolithic burial mound which dominates one end of the island. We know from a preview of the book’s sequel included in the paperback edition that ‘Cairnholm’ is around nine kilometres — five or so miles — from the mainland. Is there a real Welsh island that could have been the model for Cairnholm?

After Anglesey and its satellite Holy Island off the coast of North Wales, the third largest Welsh island is Skomer, separated from the Pembrokeshire mainland by a deep channel. It’s a ornithological paradise, and in season includes thousands of pairs of nesting seabirds — including the Manx shearwater that Jacob’s father gets excited about when he spots it. About 2 miles by 1½ miles in size, it’s possible to conceive this as Cairnholm even if there’s no fishing village here, just a farmhouse and some holiday cottages. The problem is that it’s no real distance from the mainland.

However, about ten kilometres (six miles) to the west of Skomer is the island of Grassholm, in Welsh Ynys Gwales. Essentially this is a giant uninhabited rock largely covered in gannet guano, and doesn’t seem at first a likely contender. But Ynys Gwales has a long mythological history as the location of a mystery island. At the end of the 19th century a sea captain reported an island floating a little below the surface of the sea in the vicinity of Grassholm; earlier in that century mainland folk claimed they could on occasion see Fairy Islands a short distance off the coast, supposedly densely populated with fairies; and Victorian scholar John Rhys suggested that a phantom Pembrokeshire island inhabited by ‘the Children of Rhys Ddwfn’ (Plant Rhys Ddwfn) was really a fairy island, as these folk were properly Plant yr Is-Ddwfn, that is, ‘the Children of the Underworld’. The oldest identification of this island with Grassholm or Ynys Gwales was in the Medieval Welsh tale of Branwen the Daughter of Llyr.

In this old narrative Branwen’s brother Bran is a giant, who commands his head to be cut off and used as a talisman by a group of Welsh heroes, survivors of mighty battles with the Irish. They are to go Ynys Gwales where they will be safe for a time, perhaps a reflection of the island’s etymology (gwâl in Welsh means ‘lair’ or ‘den’, somewhere in fact to shelter). “And at Gwales in Penvro you will be fourscore years, and you may remain there … until you open the door that looks towards Aber Henvelen, and towards Cornwall. And after you have opened that door, there you may no longer tarry…”

There is a coming together of various elements here that I think is reminiscent of Riggs’ novel: the not easily accessible Welsh island, the island where time stands still — at least until a crisis arrives — and the entertaining of the select group of personages by a Head, Bran’s severed head in the medieval tale and the Head Teacher Miss Peregrine in the novel. And the Home for Peculiar Children is the counterpart of a regal hall on the island of Gwales: “And there they found a fair and regal spot overlooking the ocean; and a spacious hall was therein. And they went into the hall, and two of its doors were open, but the third door was closed, that which looked towards Cornwall … And that night they regaled themselves and were joyful. And of all they had seen of food laid before them, and of all they had heard of, they remembered nothing; neither of that, nor of any sorrow whatsoever. And there they remained fourscore years, unconscious of having ever spent a time more joyous and mirthful. And they were not more weary than when first they came, neither did they, any of them, know the time they had been there.” But when the forbidden door is opened “they were as conscious of all the evils they had ever sustained, and of all the friends and companions they had lost, and of all the misery that had befallen them, as if all had happened in that very spot … And because of their perturbation they could not rest …”

Is this the conscious template for Ransom Riggs’ story? Maybe, or maybe not; only the author knows. Either way it provides a narrative depth for the novel that I find very satisfying, in a way that a selection of odd vintage photos, however artfully incorporated, does not. Does this putative blueprint detract from the book’s originality? I don’t think so, as it is the imaginative use and combination of apparently commonplace motifs that can make a novel truly novel. And on that basis, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children — despite a few flaws, mostly culture-specific — is a ‘novel’ novel.
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LibraryThing member tikicats
Interesting story. The photographs as a back drop to the story was brilliant!
LibraryThing member VincentDarlage
Intriguing premise, a novel idea to mix story with photos so well, but the characters were all cardboard. And the person who turned out to be the villain was predictable (and the same basic idea from Fright Night II). The story is set up to have sequels, but now that the trick is done, and the mystery of the photos solved, the characters aren't interesting enough to me to bother reading the sequel. I don't see how it could be anything more than an adventure story.

This novel was a clever (and impressive) trick, but I am not sure how the author can expect to pull it off again.
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LibraryThing member CarleyShea
*THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW* This book got a lot of hype when it came out, so I was quick to borrow it from my local library. Without giving too much away, this book is about a boy named Jacob who returns to his grandfather's childhood home in Wales and finds way more than he bargained for. There's time travel, there's magic, there's crime and suspense. Everything you want from a young adult novel.

Miss Peregrine's is a great young adult novel. And while I thought some parts were too quickly paced, I was completely immersed in the story. The idea of the Peculiars was something I really enjoyed and it was very different from the dystopian fiction that is so prevalent right now, but still embraced some of those aspects. I will say that the love connection between one of the Peculiars and Jacob was somewhat odd to me. She may look young, but in actuality the character is much, much older than Jacob AND had a relationship with his grandfather. It was just really strange and I wondered after finishing the book what Jacob and Emma's relationship became. Was that not weird for Jacob?

All in all, I enjoyed this book. It wasn't a favourite, but I am interested in what is in store for these characters in the sequel. And the cover art is stunning, which is one of the reasons I initially decide to read a book.
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LibraryThing member ljhliesl
I liked this okay. It appealed to me first because its title reminded me of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, and because I like falcons, and then because I learned it used vintage photographs to augment the plot. The prologue, of a grandfather telling tall tales to his grandson, boded well. When I began to read it -- only after suggesting it for book club -- I had to dial my expectations down, and down again when I realized that it is the start of yet another trilogy. (I am heartily sick of books not being stand-alones and first or debut books being marketed as a trilogy -- and thus not having a proper ending -- before the initial book has shown whether the reading public wants more of the same (and usually worse of the same).)

Its concept and story-telling aren't good enough for a trilogy. It is going to involve the Holocaust (evident enough from the prologue, with the grandfather being sent as a boy in the late 1930s from Poland to the relative safety of western Europe) and calling his grandson Yakob, and reinforced later on with "hollowgast"). Some authors are strong enough to dance with that anvil but most just lean against it, hoping the actual event's weight will lend solidity and focus to insubstantial writing, and this is the latter.

The writing and editing are poor too. (They were worse in The Night Circus but I liked that story more.) When a Billy spoke a line, I took advantage of electronic format to look for where I had missed this character's introduction, but the name was a onceling, an error. The writing tries too hard in a way that does not ring true for the voice of 15-year-old Usan Jacob who has never heard of Ralph Waldo Emerson. When the boy pulls a trunk from beneath a bed, it leaves "parenthetical scars on the floor." In the next paragraph he sounds more like a teen from the 2010s, "going to town" on the trunk's lock trying to break it, which makes the previous phrase seem even more work-shopped. Later Jacob says "Roger Wilco" to his father, and when did he learn British wartime slang? Even "roger" seems dated now, let alone "wilco." He says something "howled like ten pigs being gelded," and this is a sound that a suburban teen is familiar with? ���Geld��� a word that leaps to mind?

Worst, the photographs are stuck in without being true to the story. An island town has no electricity or phones and thus no utility poles, making the power lines visible in a skyward photograph wrong. Photographs said to show the same person show an obviously different face.

Overall, it was entertaining but disposable, and I would have disposed of it without finishing if not for book club.

An aside, because all books are one book: Jacob skims "Self-Reliance," which resonates with him as little as it does with Richard Bascombe's same-aged son in Independence Day. Someone uses a taut rope to trip someone, and the book I finished immediately before this was The Dog Stars.
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LibraryThing member rmboland
Main lesson learned after reading this book: Stop completely trusting reviews. I almost didn't read this book due to the abundance of negative reviews for it on Goodreads-but it was calling to me, in ways a book rarely calls to me, and I just couldn't ignore it. OH was it worth following my gut-I LOVED this book. Yes, the synopsis is quite deceiving, but I think it is only so for those who were expecting a horror. I tend to stay away from anything that scares me sleepless, so what I found within these pages was right up my alley.

The beginning started a little shaky (the tiny hiccup that stopped me from giving 5 stars). I didn't grasp the closeness Jacob apparently felt to his grandfather. Jacob came off as more annoyed and impatient with him, as opposed to being his number 1 fan, which he admits to being later on in the book. I felt like I needed to have that idea instilled in my head right from the start in order to completely immerse myself in the story-his grandfather was the main reason for his actions.

However, aside from that, just thinking of this book makes me dizzy with love. I loved the concept, I loved the characters, and I LOVED the magic and intricacy that was the "loops"-a specific day in time that repeats itself. I loved Ransom Rigg's ability to blend his words into some the most beautiful passages of descriptive scenery:

"A patchwork of sheep speckled fields spread across hills that rose away to meet a high ridge, where a wall of clouds stood like a cotton parapet. It was dramatic and beautiful, unlike any place I'd seen. I felt a little thrill of adventure as we chugged into the bay, as if I were sighting land where maps had noted only a sweep of undistinguished blue."

I even liked the villains, the 'wights' and 'hollowgasts.' I thought they were just scary and intimidating enough. Some reviews pointed out that they should have been more prominent throughout the middle part of the book, but I thought the lack of them there caused enough tension and anticipation to drive the story forward. I was on the edge of my seat, afraid they would pop up out of nowhere unexpectedly.

I thought the end was just enough of a cliffhanger for me, kind of Pirates of the Caribbean-esque. According to Goodreads, this was only book 1-I can hardly WAIT to see what book 2 has in store.
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LibraryThing member sunqueen
What a strange and unusual book! I loved how the author found old pictures that were so intriguing he created a whole world around them. The only regret was that it was over much too quickly. I’m looking forward to book two in January.
LibraryThing member littleton_pace
I've had such a bad run with books lately, I think the last book I read and enjoyed was Partials and that was back in October. And like with Partials, I didn't adore everything about it but man it's nice to read a book that is well-written by an author with talent and not a mediocre knock off trying to cash in on the latest fad.

Having said that, I don't think I'll be continuing with the series.

I would like to applaud the author for his unique idea. I loved the title and the addition of kooky photographs throughout was such a nice touch. On the whole, I really enjoyed this book. It was one of those ones I was actually happy to continue reading and not the "oh, crap, I have to read this thing again..." feeling that I've been noticing lately.

I also think the author did well to create a relatable male protagonist, and its proof to me that it can be done well. Often I feel I can't relate to a male lead, a teenage male no less, in a novel and feel as though I should because, no matter the gender, an author's job is to make you like/feel for their protagonist. Why else would we keep reading if we don't give a crap about who we're reading about? So to that end, Random Riggs, I thank you. You are extremely good at characterization. It was easy for me to identify between the Peculiar children (perhaps this is because they're given a special power, but still) and not have to flick back through pages and go "Wait, which one is Olive again?" I didn't have to do that once, so thank you again :)

There is actually not much that lets this book down. The setting is great, descriptions are crisp and it's one of those books that really transports you into the world. Having said that, in the end the world is a little silly. Maybe silly isn't the word, but there's just a few too many random, almost soap-opera tropes that crop up that really drag the book down.

The biggest one of these, at least for me, was the "romance" between Jacob and Emma. Emma, who has been in love with Jacob's grandfather forever, seems almost thrilled to switch her affections onto Jacob soon after meeting him. The timeframe of the novel is three weeks, that's how long Jacob is on the island. So we're talking another instant romance here, my most loathed type of romance in fiction made even worse because they're both teenagers. Even though Emma is really supposedly in her 80's but manages to act like a modern teenage girl despite being stuck in a never ending loop of the same day and never having contact with the modern world.

The "romance" ends with Jacob giving up his entire life for Emma, which in fact means giving up his whole world. The end of the novel is quite confusing and really pales in comparison to the first half of the novel. Namely, the Big Bad at the end of the novel (who is revealed to be Jacob's psychiatrist who suggested the whole trip in the first place - nice twist that I did not expect) is armed with only a gun. One gun. For some reason this flummoxes the children as to how to overpower him. If they were "normal" children, I would understand. But these are peculiar children, each with a strange ability. Emma creates fire in her hands, Olive can levitate, Enoch brings things to life, Bronwyn is uber-strong to the point where she manages to lift up a house to crush an enemy. All I could think while these same children were bickering about how best to defeat their Big Bad for fear he would "shoot them to pieces", was just have Emma set him alight. Get Bronwyn to drop something on him. And in the end, its the invisible boy who gets shot somehow.

Anyway, this along with the pain of reading another teen romance is what brings the book down for me. I will say, however, that this book is NOT a romance novel set in a strange world (I'm looking at you, Article 5). The novel is very much about Jacob, it just includes an irritating romance that does give off the feeling that it was added in at the end.

There is a sequel, and probably more after it, but I was not invested enough in the first to attempt the second. This is, however, a very satisfying stand alone novel that I recommend.
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LibraryThing member patsaintsfan
I had high hopes... The beginning was rather good, sadly, I just didn't enjoy it much.
LibraryThing member johnn.b4
In Mrs. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children the story begins with the main character Jacob thinking back to the stories his grandpa told him about the Welsh island that he grew up on as a child.
However, as Jacob grows older he merely dismissed his grandpa's stories as fiction and thought that they were an allegory of his past. He thought the "Monsters" were actually Nazi soldiers that were invading Poland at the time. But when his grandfather dies and Jacob finds a mysterious letter, he begins to have doubts. His parents think he might be going insane for seeing strange creatures in the woods the day his grandfather died. But when he and his father go on a vacation to the area where his grandfather grew up, he realizes that his grandfather's stories weren't just fables after all. Jacob finds that the peculiar children his grandfather told stories about are real children, and still alive. And so together he and his new peculiar friends fight the monsters that threaten the extinction of all peculiar kind.
I think the story was very thrilling and exciting, and the pictures in the book were a very unique edition to the book. There were times when it looked like the author was trying to think of any excuse to put a picture in, but overall it made sense. I also thought that there seemed to be too many characters that played a main role in the story. All in all, great sci-fi thriller for the casual reader. I can't wait for the sequel!
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LibraryThing member Tyllwin
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is an illustrated YA novel. The first thing I noticed is that this Quirk Press volume is, physically, a very nice book, right down to the attractive end papers. I wish more publishers would take this care. I would have called this book in the paranormal genre, but since that's now synonymous with "vampires," let's call this one "modern fantasy."

In the publisher's descriptions, much is made of the integration of many photographs with the text. I think that's a bit overstated. The photos are an interesting and appropriate group of illustrations, but they're far from essential. Since some of the photos are nicely creepy, I very much prefer it with the photos, but you could conceivably publish an edition without them.

The basic plot of the book is that Jacob Portman wishes to investigate the mysterious death of his grandfather, using some photographs as the first clue. Along the path of his investigation, he runs across other photos, all of which are reproduced. His search will lead him to a remote Welch Island, and involvement with the paranormal. It's clearly the first book in a series, coming to a good stopping point, not an ending, at the close of the book.

It's an enjoyable enough read, suffering from one main flaw, that being that it's almost entirely plot-driven. Only Jacob himself is drawn with any depth. The rest of the characters are only lightly sketched in, and the underlying mythology isn't a very solid one. Even the setting isn't as fully realized as it might be. That said, the plot is a fun one, with enough darker elements to keep it from being syrupy, and I'd give this book a solid "B."

(Disclosure: Review copy was provided to me free as a part of LTER)
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LibraryThing member knitwit2
A fun fantasy read. It seemed like the type of thing that might appeal to middle school kids. I'm surprised it is being marketed to adults. With that said I liked it.
LibraryThing member UnrulySun
The cons: When I read phrases like "spine-tingling", "haunting", and "dangerous" on a book jacket which showcases bizarre photographs of creepy children, I tend to expect a story that is indeed haunting and spine-tingling and dangerous. Sadly, this book did not deliver on any of those. Perhaps middle-grade children will be spooked by the photographs, maybe even the grisly scene in the first chapter, but beyond that this story is actually rather twee. There are plenty of misunderstood, lovable, frolicking children; a sweet blushing romance, melodramatic heroics, and PG teen angst. The whole thing seems confused about whether it wants to target elementary-age kids, teens, or adults. (I would put it in a category with books by Mary Downing Hahn, Lois Duncan, and RL Stine.) The photos didn't really add anything to the story, they are just reiterations of what the author spells out in the text, which was often awkwardly and inexpertly contrived to fit the photograph, rather than the other way around. An unfortunate marketing mishap on the part of the publishers.

The pros: It's actually a rather fun light read. Younger readers will likely enjoy it very much.
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LibraryThing member picardyrose
It got off to a good start, and the photos are terrific, but now it's the same old teenagers-save-the-world.


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