10 December 2014

Miss Peregrin's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I am so mad at myself that I waited as long as I did to read this book. It was wonderful: full of whimsy and humor, yet dark and quite chilling at times, too. And with an absolutely stunning voice. It had some of my favorite descriptions ever in it.

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME is about Jacob Portman, a boy from Florida who grew up hearing fantastic tales from his grandfather about fighting monsters. Jacob's grandfather is a Polish Jew who escaped the Nazis, the sole survivor of his family, and wound up at an orphanage in Wales for several years, before leaving to fight in the war and, at last, settling in America.

The first part of the novel starts off mundane enough, but things change when Jacob starts seeing the same monsters his grandfather did. He has to go to Wales, to his grandfather's old orphanage, to unravel the mystery - and there, he discovers that maybe his grandfather's tales weren't so fantastic after all.

There's a lot that elevates MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME above other similar books. For starters, it comfortably straddles several genres all at once: science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, contemporary, even horror - there is a definite feel of Lovecraftian terror to it. There's the aforementioned voice (example: It was truly biblical; a fog I could imagine God, in one of his lesser wraths, cursing the Egyptians with.), which was delightful.

Then there are the photographs.

Ransom Riggs found a bunch of vintage photographs and wove them seamlessly into the story.

I don't know how much the selection inspired the story and how much the story inspired the selection, but the photos add this reality to the book that is absolutely stunning. It feels more history than fiction.

The sequel to MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME, HOLLOW CITY, already came out - and I'm reading it right now. I'm always a bit wary of being a bandwagon-jumper, but Ransom Riggs has made a fan out of me and I can't wait to see where the story goes from here.