Peculiar. Such a precious word. Just say it, peculiar. Doesn’t it sound exotic? Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is the young adult, dark fantasy, debut novel by Ransom Riggs. My nine year old daughter wanted to read this book,however I was a little worried about just how dark and “young adult” this novel was. After reading it myself I’ve decided she’s not quite ready for this story. The “monsters” and some of the characters are just slightly too dark for a pre-teen, even one who loves all Tim Burton movies, and eerie fiction novels. If you have seen the movie I’d like to know if you think it’s appropriate for a nine year old 🙂
This book is one of the top ten books I’ve read in 2016. Ransom Riggs knows how to write a character-driven scary story filled with peculiarities and fantastically dark settings. The pictures included throughout the novel are striking, their old-unable-to-be-doctored authenticity means they are real. Right?
Love the way the novel begins – here is first paragraph of the Prologue:
“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. Like many of the extraordinary things to come, it involved my grandfather, Abraham Portman.” – Jacob Portman, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, p. 12.
The story is set in Florida, and Wales. Jacob is working at Smart Aid in Florida, a chain of stores that his uncle owns. Grandpa Portman is old, and losing his mind, claiming the monsters have found him, and will come to get him.
Jacob finds his Grandpa in the woods – and see one of the monsters. Jacob finds a small box at his Grandpa’s house, which has letters, and photographs of strange-looking children: a girl trapper in a bottle, a dog with a boy’s face,and a levitating girl.
I love the word choices Riggs has made throughout the novel, such as sharp words used to describe ordinary things, IE decapitated fish, skeletal trees, and a doorway described as “doorless doorway” as an “open mouth waiting to swallow me”.
Jacob’s parents send him to see a counselor – Dr. Golan, who helps to convince his parents that Jake should take a trip to Cairnholm, the island where his Grandpa spent time at as a child, with Headmistress Alma LeFay Peregrine at the children’s home. Jake’s father, a volunteer at a bird rescue who has made many unsuccessful attempts at writing a bird book, decides to go with Jake after discovering there is a large bird colony at Cairnholm, excellent inspiration for bird research.
Jake and his father manage to find two rooms at the bar called the “priest hole” – the only bar, with the only food, and the only phone, on the entire island.
On the bizarre, isolated island, Jake meets Dylan “sturgeon surgeon” aka Emcee Dirty Dylan, and Emcee Worm. He also meets Martin Pagett, the museum curator. (I do wonder why there is a museum in such a small town?)
When Jake tells his father about a peregrine falcon that came into Jake’s room, his father says, “they’re (the peregrine falcons) like shape-shifters the way they streamline their bodies in the air”. Hmmm…interesting 😉
While searching for information about his Grandpa’s childhood home, Jake learns that the children were killed during a war attack on September 3rd, 1940, and that they lived in an old, abandoned house on the other side of the island. “And that is how someone who is unusually susceptible to nightmares, night terrors, the Creeps, the Willies, and Seeing Things That Aren’t Really There talks himself into making one last trip to the abandoned, almost-certainly-haunted house where a dozen or more children met their untimely end”, p. 103.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this series, Hollow City.