Jacob Portman knew that there is a big world out there, and that the only adventure he could ever taste is from the stories that Grandpa Portman told him from his stash of old photographs he took with him, all from the home that his grandfather knew. From the island of Cairnholm there stands an orphanage and a headmistress who looks after refugee children during the cinema second world war. In the eyes of young Jacob growing up, Grandpa Abe was a hero. Unlike the rest of his family, it is only Jake and Grandpa Abe who share a bond that nobody else has ever understood.
But Grandpa Abe would not be around forever. On the night of his death, Jacob thinks he sees the horrid creature that murdered his grandfather. His parents believe he is delusional and what he saw could be the effect of years of storytelling-possibly lies- on an innocent boy, as if the characters on the strange photos have come to life, and this convinces the family that seeing a psychiatrist is best for Jake. But Grandpa Abe says something to Jacob on the night he died, "Find the bird in the loop, on the other side of the old man's grave. September third, 1940."
How could he ever make sense with his grandfather's last words and what could Jacob possibly find there?
Highlights of the Book: Themes, Issues and Characterization
(Warning: May Contain Spoilers)
The highlights of the book are hands down, the peculiar photographs. It is an eerie experience, and the more the reader digs deeper, flipping pages continuously, the more it becomes a puzzle of who these children were.
It may have been clear that Miss Peregrine's children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems- they may still be alive."
Doesn't it just give you the creeps?
Second highlight is the world-building. Contrary to what other reviews on this book have mentioned, I don't see how it is patterned after the Harry Potter books. This is a more mature take, the way I see it, and the only similarity is that there is a home for peculiar children, and that there is the battle of good and evil peculiars in this world. Surely, these children have strange abilities, but the powers come from the children themselves and they are not taught.
But as the reader continues, the real stories come to the surface, revealing who they are, and how they have come to find their places in Miss Peregrine's Home where they have come to know love and care under the headmistress's watchful eye when their own family have turned them away.
Some issues raised in this book are the father and son relationship; where Jacob's father could be envious of the deep bond that Grandpa Abe and Jacob had whereas for him, Grandpa Abe was away most of the time when he was growing up.This is one factor why Jacob's own father has difficulty being one with his own son.
Another issue to note is the discrimination that the children encountered when they marched to the village, villagers' eyes following their every move, as if they had a disease which was highly contagious. The excuse made up was that the refugee children come from all over Europe so that they do not converse very well among the English villagers in the island of Cairnholm, Wales. But people are always afraid of other things that they do not understand.
As for characterization, it comes to life because there is a rich pool of different characters who have individual concerns and methods of thinking. Somehow, I can't help feeling that there are many unexplained incidents as to how a boy anmed Victor with the strength of ten men can easily die without giving a fight. There are some parts that are dragging and slow to pick up on action, although the author tries his best to show the struggle between bravery and passiveness, it does not really strike me.
Who Could Enjoy the Book
I believe that readers and even collectors of vintage photographs could have a unique experience reading this book while the story builds, of strange and sometimes nightmarish photos, to those that are simply sad, and bleak. This is a book for lovers of paranormal stories and also those who have a thing for haunted homes and the history of those who lived in it.
About the Author
Just in case you were wondering, yes, Ransom Riggs has a thing for eerie vintage photos.
Ransom Riggs grew up in Florida and but now makes his home in the land of peculiar children-Los Angeles. Along the way he earned degrees from Kenyon College and the University of Southern California's School of Cinema and Television. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children debuted #5 on the New York Times Best Seller List. He recently sat down with Quirk Books' creative director Jason Rekulak to discuss its peculiar origins.
He is looking forward to a trip to Belgium where he gets to see creepy abandoned chateaus, something he is really excited about.
What Other People Are Saying About the Book
" A tense, moving, and wondrously strange first novel. The photographs and text work brilliantly together to create an unforgettable story."- John Green, New York Times bestselling author of Paper Towns and The Fault In Our Stars