Fantasy · Ida's English Reading Corner

Review | ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ by Ransom Riggs (2011)

“I don’t mean to be rude,” I said, “but what are you people?”
“We’re peculiar,” he replied, sounding a bit puzzled. “Aren’t you?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
“That’s a shame.” – p. 142

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ is the first book to commence the trilogy ‘Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children’. This book tells the story of young Jacob Portman, who does not know what to do with his life, lacks friends and is the grandson to a wealthy businessman. Until one day he finds his grandfather dead in the woods at the margins of his home, killed by a stray dog as everyone wants Jacob to believe. But Jacob knows what he saw, even though everyone else, including his parents and his psychiatrist, thinks he is crazy. Agonized by nightmares, Jacob decides to dig up his grandfather’s past and revisits the fairy tales he used to tell Jacob. After finding tons of peculiar pictures and a letter of some Miss Peregrine, headmistress of the children’s home Jacobs’s grandfather used to live at during World War Two, there is only one question left to ask: Could his grandpa’s tales about peculiar children and their skills be true and his death linked to this past of his?

This book is like a treasure chest, full of peculiarities and hidden gems that await discovery. Apart from the extraordinarily beautiful cover, the design of its pages is beyond stunning. It seems like with opening the book, you not only enter another world and a new adventure, but you can certainly see and feel it as the inner lining and the pages announcing a new chapter resemble an aesthetically pleasing vintage wallpaper. This book is filled with a vast range of antique photographs which seem so quaint and magical one can hardly trust one’s own eyes. The most exciting thing for me is that these photographs, which are found by Jacob on various occasions, are real photographs found at flea markets and antique malls and were only occasionally altered digitally. The story centering on Jacob Portman and his encounter with Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children seem to have emerged from those pictures and it reminds me of myself, finding curious pictures at flea markets and asking myself: What is the history behind this photograph? Who are these people? What were they like? What was the occasion for this photo to be taken?

I became very engrossed in this book and could not marvel enough over its beauty inside and out. I can’t compare this book to anything I’ve read before, because reality and magic are interwoven in such a manner that you can’t help but ask whether something like this might actually happen in real life. It might sound naive, but this book plays with the desire that there is more to this world than what’s visible to the naked eye. It plays with the fear of not knowing ones place in today’s society, to be ordinary and maybe not peculiar at all. To me, it marked the perfect beginning of a fall full of reading, steaming tea mugs and rainy weather – and a bit of peculiarity here and there…

 


Author:   Ransom Riggs
Title:       Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Series:     Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children (#1)
Press:      Quirk Books
Year of publication: 2011
Pages:      352


 

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