Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's 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
4 more
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 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 readingover50
I have been eager to read this book since it came out. It sounded really creepy and I had high hopes for it based on early positive reviews I had read. Unfortunately this book did not live up to my expectations. I guess I was hoping for something that had more appeal to adults as well as kids, like the Harry Potter and Twilight books. The writing in this book was definitely geared more towards a younger reader, I would think 10-12 year olds would really like it. What kid wouldn't want to find out he is special and has some type of power.

I thought the plot was interesting and different. The island in the book sounded fascinating. The ending of the book was set up for a sequel, but I don't think I will be reading it. The photos in the book were fun to look at and added to the atmosphere in the story. I would recommend this book for middle school kids looking for something fun to read.
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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 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 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 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 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 chaostheory08
This is a Reading Good Books review.

For the past two weeks, I took a break from reading (and reviewing) and explored the beauty of San Francisco. Spending those weeks with my relatives that I haven’t seen in a long time was so much fun and a welcome break from everything. I started on some books I found on their shelves but I haven’t finished them. (I was more than halfway through Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide before I left.) On the road home, I fired up my B&N nook and started on this, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

The book is about sixteen-year-old Jacob Portman going on a journey to an island in Wales to find out what happened in his grandfather’s past. Growing up, Grampa Portman told Jacob stories about an invisible boy, a floating girl, and other strange children. Peculiar, as they called themselves. These stories were so unbelievable that Jacob – and his family – thought they were simply fairy tales. But as tragedy struck, Jacob began to think… what if these peculiar children are real?

I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this book and decided to give it a go. And as you know, a long bus/train ride is my favorite place to read. As I rolled into Los Angeles, I was midway through. The reviews that I’ve read are pretty much split in the middle. Some loved it and some thought it was not that good. I loved it. In fact, I’ve placed it in my “Favorites” pile. Sure, it wasn’t perfect but I thought it was a very, VERY good read.

My favorite part of the whole book were the illustrations. According to the author, they are real found snapshots and the story was written around it. I am totally in love with that idea. The pictures the author used were haunting and creepy, and it totally added to the sheer beauty of the piece. The story has random popular culture references, either directly or indirectly. Doctor Who, rap music, Groundhog Day, Lord of the Flies, Peter Pan, even Jeffrey Dahmer…

The book really sucks you in. It does get a little tedious towards the middle but it was a necessary evil, methinks. Even though the book has referenced some previous work, it was very original. I liked the mixing of fact and fiction to create a new world.

What I did not like so much, as with the majority of the YA books that I read, was the “teen romance” aspect. Frankly, I was a bit freaked out. I understand why it had to be there but gladly, there wasn’t much of it. Also, the characters were not well developed. I can tell what makes them peculiar but almost nothing on their personalities. Even the ages of the peculiar kids were not clearly stated so it was kind of difficult for me to picture some of the scenes. Was 16-year-old Jacob talking to a small child or someone who was in the same age bracket? However, I do hope the author works on character development if there will be a sequel. The author CANNOT leave it at that!

Here and there, I can see the effort of the author to make Jacob sound like your typical YA hero – being hormonal, indecisive, jaded. In some parts, he loses that teenage angst tone. I actually like that. I believe that Jacob being 16 is the only thing tying this book to the YA genre. It can easily be a children’s book (along the lines of Harry Potter) or a contemporary adult piece. Readers across all ages will surely enjoy this.

Rating: 5/5.

Recommendation: I want all of you to read it! Read it aloud to your children. This is definitely an adventure.
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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 richardderus
Rating: 3.5 exasperated stars of five

The Book Report: Jacob Portman is a privileged little creep, living in air-conditioned splendor and social isolation with his useless ornithologist father and his rich-bitch shallow mother. He has one friend, smokin' chawin' awkward po' folks Ricky, and other than that, he has his old Jewish grandfather Portman.

The elder Portman tells Jacob fascinating, magical stories about a childhood spent on an island off the coast of Wales where his parents sent him just before the Nazi death machine cranked up. The stories are illustrated by wonderful photos showing kids doing impossible things: Holding boulders on the tip of a finger, for example, or levitating flat-footed, or being invisible (that last is tough to photograph, as you can imagine). For years, Jacob completely buys into Grandfather Portman's tales.

Then he grows up. He starts listening to his own father, whose father is the storyteller. Big mistake.

Events catch up to Jacob, as his conflicted relationship with the old man ends in a spectacular death, a quest for deeper truths than are on the surface where most people are most comfortable, and the usefulness of freaks to the world is fully plumbed. This is a fearless yarn about fears so deeply implanted in most of us that we don't even know they're fears anymore: Do I fit in? Where? How? Does anybody like me, really?

Jacob adds the one question to this list that makes a boy into a man: Do I really care?

My Review: So why only 3.5 stars? Because it started out to be a 5-star read, with haunting photos and fabulous sentences and really involving ideas all schmoozling around, making me forget the narrator is a teenager! As I've said often enough to be boring about it, the presence of teens in a book affects me as garlic does Dracula.

And then the teenager starts whining. And then the story goes into multiple adolescent freaks' PoV. And then I got pissed and stopped wanting to read the really very good story. And the stars began to fall off the rating. And that, friends, makes me sad and mad. So that's where this woeful tale ends.
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LibraryThing member TheTwoDs
Ransom Riggs's debut novel combines a deliciously creepy premise, an island where "peculiar" children with strange powers may live in perpetuity, with vintage photography artfully arranged to illustrate the tale.

The story is reminiscient of John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things and fans of that fantastical tale will want to read this one. Sixteen-year-old Jacob had been told plenty of amazing tales by his grandfather when he was a child but has grown to disbelieve them as fairy tales rooted in the elder man's escape from the Nazis. The sudden death of his grandfather is the impetus for a trip with his father to the remote island off the coast of Wales where his grandfather lived at an orphanage during the war.

To give away any more would do a disservice to the novel. Suffice to say, the story contains all the hallmarks of a fantasy with magical powers, hideous creatures, disbelieving adults and cliffhangers galore. The blending of fantasy and science fiction elements with Welsh mythology works well and the form of time travel presented is unique as far this reader knows.

The photos are real images found by collectors at garage sales, flea markets, antique stores and various other places that deal in ephemera. While the usual line goes that no image can replace the image the words create in the readers head, the sheer oddness of some of the photos make the conceit work in this case. If nothing else, there will be a few more odd and vintage photo collectors rummaging through the pictures in the usual and not so usual locations for finding such things.

Riggs has promised additional novels in this series and this one ends with a perfect setup for the next. I'm looking forward to them.
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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.
LibraryThing member fyrefly98
Summary: When Jacob was little, his grandfather would always tell him stories. Stories about the mysterious house in which he grew up, a house on an island in Wales, a house that was full of children with strange powers - a boy who was immensely strong, a girl with a second mouth in the back of her head, an invisible boy, a girl whose feet never touched the ground - children who are pictured in a series of incredible photographs, children who were hiding at this house because it was the only place where they could be safe from the monsters. As Jacob grew up, he dismissed his grandfather's photographs as trickery and his stories as mere fairy tales, but when he finds his grandfather dead in the woods behind his Florida home - and sees something impossible and monstrous fleeing the scene - he begins to wonder. His parents and his therapist think that he's suffered a mental break, but he convinces them to let him travel to Wales, to hopefully find out the truth beyond his grandfather's cryptic last words once and for all. But what Jacob finds on Cairnholm Island makes him wonder if his grandfather might not have been making up his stories after all... but if that's the case, then Jacob may have just put himself in mortal danger.

Review: Saying that something is a "multimedia experience" sounds like cheeseball mid-'90s marketing copy, but in the case of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, I really think it might be true. The gorgeously produced book is peppered with vintage photographs, collected from estate sales and flea markets, with each photograph showing something bizarre, unnerving, or just a little off. Individually, it's easy to look at any one photograph and say "Oh, that's double exposure / a trick of the lighting / etc." However, the absolute best part about this book is how everything fits together into a whole that's greater than the sum of the parts. The photos complement and amplify the atmosphere of the story, and the story weaves itself around the photos that they stop feeling like disparate found objects, and more like interconnected pieces from a life, enough to make you stop and think "Well, what if....?"

I don't know whether the photographs inspired the story, or if the story dictated which photos to use (probably some of each), but the overall effect is not like anything I've ever come across before. The story is funny and poignant by turns, and effectively creepy throughout, enough to make me wish I'd read it on a foggy October evening. It's not just the bad guys that are creepy, either... even the good guys have a disconcerting, haunting air about them; especially so compared to Jacob, whose perspective and narration style is sufficiently modern to make it a sharp counterpoint to some of the more fantastical things he encounters. Suffice it to say, this book gave me the shivers more than once.

The ending, while it was consistent with the rest of the story, and a good resting place, didn't manage to tie up all of the threads of the book, and is rather obviously providing set-up for a sequel. On the one hand, that kind of open-endedness usually bothers me, but if Riggs's next book is anything near as fascinating as I found this one, the unresolved nature of this ending will be well-earned. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Definitely recommended for fans of modern YA novels, especially those with a bit of a fantastical twist to them; anyone who appreciates a good haunted house story; and especially anyone with an interest in photography and the power of images. This is definitely a print-only story, though... I'm not usually one to dissuade people from audiobooks, but the photographs are such an integral part of the story that it would be a shame to miss them.
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LibraryThing member saffron12
As some of the other reviews state, the photos are great. I looked forward to seeing the "peculiar" pictures as I read the book. The story good enough that it kept me reading to the end, but it felt as if there could be more. There wasn't enough detail for me. I wanted to know more about all of the characters. It felt is if just the surface was skimmed, even with Jacob, the main character. I would read a sequel if there would be a sequel, just because I want to know more, but there could have been more within this book alone.… (more)
LibraryThing member Gwendydd
Totally not worth all the hype.

This is a really typical story where mediocre boring white dude discovers that he has special powers and gets the girl. The only remotely original concept in here is that the faerie people keep themselves safe from the bad guys who are after them by creating a time loop and living the same day over and over and over. But that wasn't original enough to sustain the rest of the story.

My enjoyment of this book was further ruined because I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator is appallingly terrible. He has a really weird cadence that he uses for every sentence, whether it is "I had a sandwich for lunch" or "we are all going to die in an hour." Most of the story takes place in Wales, and he clearly didn't bother to listen to any Welsh accents. Like a lot of Americans, the only "British" accent he can conjure is a really weird mix of Cockney and Irish.
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LibraryThing member Dale_Riechers
Big disappointment. The books idea was a good hook, but this stuff is for kids and television.
LibraryThing member Ellesee
This has become one of my newest favs in the YAL genre! Jacob Portman grew up hearing his grandfather's strange stories about children with "peculiar" abilities living on an island off the coast of Scotland. At first, he believed these unreal tales of a girl who floated, a boy who could lift great weights, another girl with a "backward mouth" and many others with unbelievable abilities. His grandfather, Abe, provided photos as "evidence" which fascinated the impressionable Jacob until his belief in his grandfather's stories began to collide with his familial and social realities.

As a teen, Jacob began to wonder about his grandfather's ability to discern reality, he saw the photos his grandfather so carefully preserved as "fake" and although he loved his grandfather very much, he could not allow himself to believe the old man's stories and survive in his school and family environment.

A phone call changes his life forever. His grandfather calls while Jacob is at work. He can't find the key to his gun cabinet. The monsters are after him. Jacob thinks his grandpa is having an "episode" caused by his WWII experiences, but takes off to check on him anyway. His grandfather is missing, so Jacob takes off on a trail behind the old man's house to see if he wandered off. The dark and shadows make it difficult to see, but soon the young man stumbles upon the dying body of his grandfather, who with his last breath gives him a message, "Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man's grave. September third, 1940."

At the scene Jacob swears he sees a shadowy, tentacle-mouthed creature lurking just beyond the trees, but the coroner claims Abe Portman was killed by wild dogs. What he has seen and what he's "supposed" to believe send Jacob into a mental tailspin and only when his new psychiatrist, Dr. Golan, recommends he visit the island his grandfather spoke about so fondly does Jacob begin to learn the truth--about his grandfather, himself and world that has been kept hidden for much too long.

The black-and-white photos give this story an intense, creepy quality, and remind me of Chris Van Allsburg's The mysteries of Harris Burdick. There's something slightly "off" about them, something not apparent, lurking beneath the surface, just like the tentacled-monster that lurked behind the trees as Jacob's grandfather died.

And, it's wide-open for a sequel--which I'm hopeful for. Well-written, engaging and one of the most original story-lines I've read in quite a while.
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LibraryThing member jnwelch
"But why did the monsters want to hurt you?" I asked.
"Because we weren't like other people. We were peculiar."
"Peculiar how?"
"Oh, all sorts of ways," he said. "There was a girl who could fly, a boy who had bees living inside him, a brother and sister who could lift boulders over their heads."
It was hard to tell if he was being serious.

Laced with vintage photos that illustrate the story, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is a fun ride. Grandpa Portman fought in WWII, and it becomes clear who the monsters and the peculiars really were. But is there more to it? He urges grandson Jacob to find "the bird" and "the loop", and when Jacob eventually travels with his dad to a tiny island off the coast of Wales to try to find them, his adventures really begin. He makes new friends of a most peculiar sort, and encounters surprising enemies as well. The black and white vintage photos are remarkable, like the one of the girl on the front cover who appears to be levitating. One of my favorites is simply of a sturdy girl in a dress who looks strong and purposeful but in no mood to be in a dress. Her story matches it well, as do all the stories and photos in this book. It is a remarkable piece of puzzle construction by the author.

It also is a well-done diversion. Deeper themes can be spotted, as more monsters appear in search of dominating power, but mainly it is an involving story that will carry you along with Jacob and Emma and the others as they try to understand what is happening and how best to overcome it.
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LibraryThing member ErisofDiscord
Jacob's grandfather told him stories when he was a small boy, stories of children with incredible powers, and he showed him pictures of these children - a boy who was completely invisible except when he was wearing clothes, a petulant faced girl who could levitate above the ground and a boy who could lift rocks the size of the Statue of Liberty's big toe. Jacob's grandfather said that he knew these children, and he lived with them at a big old house on a little Welsh island.

When Jacob was a kid he believed everything his grandfather said, but as he grew older, he stopped thinking that his grandfather was telling the truth. But when his grandfather dies tragically, it leaves more questions unanswered in Jacob's mind. So Jacob journeys to the orphanage that his grandfather lived in to find out the truth in his grandfather's past. Are the peculiar children still alive? And when Jacob's grandfather died, why did Jacob see a monster with tentacles for tongues at the scene?

Jacob was a wonderful protagonist that I identified with - he constantly tried to do the right thing throughout the book while protecting the people he cared out. The relationship he had with his grandfather and his desire to be like him was well portrayed. Most of the characters are very interesting, and their different personalities add to the richness of the novel.

The photographs that helped illustrate the novel were an excellent touch, and I didn't learn until I read the author's note on the back of the book that they are all vintage photographs! Except for a tiny bit of processing on a few of them, those classic photographs had been borrowed from collections. Riggs built his story around those photos, and the weirdness of the photos added another layer of individuality to this book.

The plot and pacing is quick, and the writing is not lazy or bland - it has the voice of an intelligent and blunt sixteen-year-old boy. I read this book in a day and a half, and it even made me forget about viral videos on YouTube. Since Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was able to sever me from the internet and immerse me in a world of invisible boys, girls who hold fire in their hands, bogs, time changing, and monsters with tentacles coming out of their mouths, I applaud Ransom Riggs - he has a talent for ensnaring minds.

This review written as a part of my 75 Books Challenge for 2012, as posted on the LibraryThing group of the same name.
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LibraryThing member annhepburn
Really, really fun premise and I really, really liked the first 2/3. But then it kind of lost me... a lot of setup for the inevitable sequel, I suppose.
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 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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1594744769 / 9781594744761


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