Thursday, January 17, 2013

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs. Quirk Books, 2011

This is a magical little book, a tale of unusually talented children, time travel and monsters, illustrated with black and white photographs. Sixteen year old Jacob is devastated when his grandfather, Abe Portman, dies in his arms, killed by.. something. Everyone says it was dogs, but Jacob saw a humanoid being that even his friend standing right there didn’t see. Jacob comes to think that perhaps Abe’s wild stories of an orphanage on a tiny Welsh island filled with children who could levitate, or lift huge boulders, or create fire in their hands, and that he killed monsters, just might be true after all.

Circumstances make a trip to Wales possible-encouraged by Jacob’s therapist. Once Jacob arrives on the island his grandfather spent time on during WW II, things turn out to be even weirder –and more dangerous- than his grandfather described.

This is a lovely coming of age story as Jacob is forced to grow up abruptly. He’s faced with things that not only endanger friends but challenge his entire world view. This story has been compared to the X-Men’s school for mutants, but Miss Peregrine really doesn’t train the kids to use their talents to fight; she’s content to keep them alive and safe, isolated from the world. It’s got a touch of Shangri-La, and a bit of the feel of Gaiman, but it’s totally original. I hear there is a sequel in the works, which makes me very happy. 


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