Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, By Ransom Riggs

miss_peregrines_coverMiss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is a fictional narrative of Jacob Portman, who discovers another hidden world on a remote island. As the novel unfolds, Jacob’s grandfather, Grandpa Portman, tells tales of seemingly unrealistic people in his life as a child. A levitating girl, an invisible boy, and a girl who could lift boulders fill his stories. At first, Jacob believes everything. But soon he develops suspicions of the truth.

When Jacob finds Grandpa Portman dead, torn up and bleeding, he is devastated. He senses a creature lurking in the shadows. However, his friend doesn’t see it. When questioned by the police about what happened, Jacob tells them what he saw. Thinking him somewhat insane, the police recommend Jacob see a psychiatrist who leads him to believe nothing really happened, that it was all in Jacob’s head.

After receiving a book that Grandpa Portman had clearly wanted him to have, he finds mysterious clues inscribed inside. He relentlessly tries to decode the clues and eventually finds evidence of Grandpa Portman’s childhood home. He then has the daunting task of convincing his parents to allow him to travel there and explore it for more answers.

Once on the remote island, he investigates the broken-down remains of an old house– rooms left exactly as they were many years ago, with peeling paint and layers of dust accumulating on surfaces. Cautiously, he looks through an old trunk of photographs where he finds the same photos his grandfather had shown him. All of a sudden, he sees faces peering down at him from a hole in the ceiling. Is it possible these faces are of the people in the aged, yellowing photographs in his hands?

Once out of the house, he chases a girl across a bog. After he loses her in a cairn, he walks back into town. But the town is not the modern town he had left hours ago. “The clip-clop of hooves had replaced the growl of engines” (p. 123).  Upon seeing a calendar, the date displayed was September 3, 1940… many years before Jacob’s time. How it happened, Jacob doesn’t know yet. But there is much more than that for him to learn.

As the story progresses, Jacob learns more about his grandfather’s friends, the peculiar children, and of the monsters that hunt them, the hollows. Jacob also learns more about himself and the world of the peculiar children.

This novel, inset with spooky but real photographs, creates a relatively high tension level and is captivating enough to keep an interested reader engaged. This is a book I would definitely recommend to others, especially middle school age and up– younger children might get too spooked by certain aspects of the novel.

-Leila S., 7th grade

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