Thursday, August 11, 2011

A very peculiar read

Judging by its cover, you'd think that Ransom Riggs's debut novel, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, is a horror story. Unfortunately, it's not, but it's something much more wonderful. In a way, it's a coming-of-age book filled with mystery, suspense, and the occasional episodes of creepiness. And, I believe it can be a cross-over novel -- a book that can be enjoyed by both young adults and adults.

As a child, Jacob, the main character, has long been fascinated by the old photographs that his grandfather keeps. The photographs are by and large eccentric -- a girl seemingly hovering in the air, a scrawny boy apparently lifting a huge boulder, a girl staring at her reflection on a pond, with the reflected image consisting of two girls, a creepy pair of girls with their backs turned to the camera, a girl holding a globe of light in her hands.

The black and white photographs lend an air of mystery to the story. Of course, we all know that they're fake, yet somehow, there's a gothic feel to them. Here are some examples.

By the time Jacob is in his teenage years, his fascination for the photographs and the children on them has waned. But then his grandfather dies violently of mysterious causes. Jacob decides to go to the Welsh island where his grandfather's orphanage once stood, with the hope of finding the reason for his death.

Things turn more mysterious when Jacob reaches the island and finds out that the orphanage, which was run by Miss Peregrine, was bombed during World War II and with all of its residents killed. So how can it be that his grandfather failed to mention this very important detail? How did his grandfather survive the bombing? Adding another layer of mystery to all these, Jacob makes a startling discovery -- the children shown in his grandfather's photographs are alive! And they do have peculiar traits!

I don't want to write any more details. You just have to get your hands on this one, dear reader. It's one of the most pleasantly surprising reads I've experienced this year. What's more, there can be a sequel!

But I do would like to say that, production-wise, this is a very beautiful book. The vintage photographs appearing in the novel are real pictures that Riggs have gathered or have requested permission to reuse. The pictures effortlessly weave into the story, making the reader richer and more satisfying. Here are two of my favorite pictures:

Read this book if:
  1. You love cross-over novels.
  2. You like books with pictures. Who doesn't, no?
  3. You think you're a peculiar child yourself.


Stepford Mum said...

I was eyeing this book at Fully Booked last weekend!! It'll be on my Christmas wishlist :)

Peter S. said...

You're gonna love the characters, Stepford Mum!

Ryan said...

I want to read this book so bad, I can taste it. Not sure what it tastes like, but I can.

Peter S. said...

Hi, Ryan! Hmmm.... Interesting perspective! Hehehehe.

Portobello's coffee said...

This is turning out to be one my best read this year. Thanks for recommending.

Peter S. said...

You're always welcome, Portobello's coffee!