Fantasy · Ida's English Reading Corner

Review | ‘Hollow City’ by Ransom Riggs (2014)

“There was romance in the unknown, but once a place had been discovered and cataloged and mapped, it was diminished, just another dusty fact in a book, sapped of mystery. So maybe it was better to leave a few spots on the map blank. To let the world keep a little of its magic, rather than forcing it to divulge every last secret. Maybe it was better, now and then, to wonder.”
– ‘Hollow City’, p. 368

… and boy, did I wonder! As I mentioned in my review of the first novel in this trilogy, these books themselves are like treasure chests, with peculiar photographs accompanying the story, beautiful wallpaper-like paper and a story that is fantastically rich of imagination. These books tell the story of Jacob Portman and the other peculiar children under the care of Miss Peregrine. The second book, “Hollow City” sets in where the first one ended, with the peculiar children leaving their island in order to save Miss Peregrine and to find out what happened to all the other peculiar children and their ymbrynes after they were captured by hollows and wights. This tale really has a lot to offer: fight for survival in the midst of the Second World War in London, finding new friends and losing old ones, young Jacob trying to be a part of the peculiar children, hoping for friendship and love, and most of all: the peculiars, united in their extraordinary skills, fighting for each other.

Although I have to admit that sometimes it felt quite odd that Jacob is in love with Emma, a girl who is practically an eighty-year old woman, I somehow understood it. If love was easy, there would be no heartache and longing, it would hardly feel genuine. Emma is his chance at living a dangerous but adventurous life. In all her power, she remains vulnerable, as does he. She is at his side while he learns to control his peculiar ability to spot hollows. But apart from that, I also got why Jacob struggled to be accepted by the other peculiar children. Imagine yourself living decades with the same people, knowing them, trusting them… and suddenly, a new one arrives, one whom you have to learn how to trust. Of course this might take a while.

What I loved about “Hollow City” is that it consists of both light and dark parts. Some are undeniably gruesome, while others depict the innocent joy of being young and careless – which is reflected in the characters of the peculiar children themselves: to everyone else, they look like children, naive and trusting, and sometimes they act that way. But on the inside, they are grown-up and have seen and lived through unbearable things. This particular aspect reminded me of my great-grandma, who always told us to nurture the child inside our souls, as to never grow old in our hearts. I liked how this is reflected upon in Jacobs thoughts as he sees Emma having a brief moment of childish joy and instantly regretting giving in to such youthful luxury: “Laughing doesn’t make bad things worse any more than crying makes them better. It doesn’t mean you don’t care, or that you’ve forgotten. It just means you’re human.” (p. 301)

But most of all, I loved how Jacob finds a way to improve his skill to detect hollows. I liked that he did not just have the power and goes with it, but that it has to be trained like a muscle – and that it takes time. Time, which is precious in the urgent matter of saving Miss Peregrine. When it comes to peculiarness, it seems to be like everything that differentiates people from others and makes them a minority: they are feared, fought against or tried to be used for another persons’ profit. This is also the case with the peculiar children, and therefore I was very moved when Jacob first saw his skill and that of his companions as something good: “I liked this idea: that peculiarness wasn’t a deficiency, but an abundance; that it wasn’t we who lacked something normals had, but they who lacked peculiarness. That we were more, not less.” (p. 191)

If you loved the first one, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”, you will definitely love the second one. If you are interested in a review for the first book, click here. As for me, I’m off reading the final novel of this trilogy.

Author:   Ransom Riggs
Title:       Hollow City
Series:     Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children (#2)
Press:      Quirk Books
Year of publication: 2014
Pages:      399


2 thoughts on “Review | ‘Hollow City’ by Ransom Riggs (2014)

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