Fantasy · Ida's English Reading Corner

Review | ‘Library of Souls’ by Ransom Riggs (2015)

“It had become one of the defining truths of my life that, no matter how I tried to keep them flattened, two-dimensional, jailed in paper and ink, there would always be stories that refused to stay bound inside books. It was never just a story. I would know: a story had swallowed my whole life.” – Library of Souls, p. 371.


I just finished the last part of the trilogy that tells the story of ‘Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children’ – and I am honestly all over the place. I’m still trying to dry my tears and calming down from everything that happened – I nearly wrote “from everything we experienced”, but somehow, it’s true, I did experience it as though I was part of the peculiar crew – because this book was story-telling at its best.

And because I’m still so shaken up, let me give you the synopsis printed on the book’s cover:

“The adventure that began with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and continued in Hollow City comes to a thrilling conclusion with Library of Souls. As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Jacob discovers a powerful new ability, and soon he’s diving through history to rescue his peculiar companions from a heavily guarded fortress. Accompanying Jacob on his journey are Emma Bloom, a girl with fire at her fingertips, and Addison MacHenry, a dog with a nose for sniffing out lost children. They’ll travel from modern-day London to the labyrinthine alleys of Devil’s Acre, the most wretched slum in all of Victorian England. It’s a place where the fate of the peculiar children everywhere will be decided once and for all. Like its predecessors, Library of Souls blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience.”

There was so much to love about this book! First of all, I can only repeat what I wrote in my review of Hollow City: Jacob’s talent to control hollowgasts continues to be worked out so beautifully in the last book, Library of Souls. He comes to accept this part of himself and learns how to use this special power to help the ones he loves. Also, there was a typical british humor peeking through from time to time, which I absolutely loved. Just an example:

“I woke up. That in itself is worthy of note, I think, given the circumstances.”

It was a relief that even in the direst of moments, there was the possibility to just take a short break from all the tension of the story, to just exhale, take another breath and laugh the worst of it off before diving head-first into the next adventurous turn of the story, even if it grew darker and more and more sinister by the minute.
Those parts of the book that lay out how the wights are trying to win the power over everyone else reminded me of the Nazi regime: a leader (Caul) who thinks he is almighty and male and therefore is entitled to power over others who are seen by him as less worthy and therefore dispensable; a leader who is cunning and cold and lacking empathy; a fortress in which gruesome experiments are taking place (‘for the greater good’, as always). It made me sick to my stomach to read what Caul had to say and how he thought of himself as the only worthy leader – a god – to rule over anyone else. This made me think of what happens right now all over the world and I am still stunned that there are people in our modern age who believe that some people are more worth than others. That they deserve to rule. That others deserve to die, just because they are different in some way. It is disgusting, and my heart aches at the thought of it.

This book filled me with excitement, with compassion, with anticipation, joy and grief and – at the end of my reading journey – with gratitude for such a wonderful story. I devoured the last 100 pages like a starving person, hoping for an ending that this trilogy deserves. And I got it and I couldn’t be happier about it. And it made me realize something: that each of us is special, that what we are is enough. That our life is precious, and that we have to honor it by living our lives to the fullest. It’s easier said than done, but it is a risk worth taking.

“And it occurred to me, standing there, just breathing with her, quiet settling around us, that those might be the three most beautiful words in the English language.
We have time.”

So if you love a more than well-told story, credible characters, ice-cold villains, monsters to hate and emphasize with at the same time, mysterious photos of  peculiar people and places, an exciting ride through time – then you should definitely give these three precious books a try.


Author:   Ransom Riggs
Title:       Library of Souls
Series:     Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children (#3)
Press:      Quirk Books
Year of publication: 2015
Pages:      463



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