Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
As children, more than a few of us must have been lucky enough to hear a fairytale or two from our parents, before drifting off to a peaceful slumber. And as we grow older, we read about some of these stories in countless books. In time, we realize that they are all just tales of magic intended to teach us certain lessons in life. Each of them made up and fabricated into fantastic narratives.
And this is what Jacob grew up with. Enticing tales and magical adventures of a boarding school that housed several unique children with superficial powers were what filled his young mind. These were recounted to him by his Grandpa Portman. All these tales were backed by a handful of vintage photographs his grandfather has kept. Being young and innocent, Jacob believed his old man’s word and regarded him as a hero, someone to look up to.
But as Jacob grew up, he soon came to dismiss these stories as childish fairytales, and the photographs fake and manipulated. He felt betrayed and his perception of his grandfather changed from someone worth idolizing to someone brimming with lies. He came to see that his life was nothing but ordinary. That is until his grandfather met his untimely death from the hand of strange creatures. Creatures disturbingly familiar to Jacob. Then he realized that these are the exact same ones that were depicted in his grandfather’s stories. All those haunting monsters that creep into his every nightmare, alas, were true.
And so Jacob set out to a journey to find the whole truth behind his grandfather’s life and the mystery behind these monsters. He wanted nothing more than to give his grandfather’s death justice. With only his Grandpa Portman’s last words, Jacob seeks out the said boarding school to learn how much more of the fairytales were true.
By reading the summary of the book and looking at its cover, I concluded that it is a creepy tale. I mean, just staring at the black-and-white photo of a levitating girl in the cover gave me the creeps. It promises a horrific adventure, described as spine-tingling. Well, imagine my utter disappointment when I have come halfway through the book and yet, there were no hair-raising or gooseflesh-triggering that happened. Only the vintage photos scattered through each chapter made me flinch slightly. Even up to the very last pages, I was hoping for a bit of scare. Instead, I was slapped with a young adult book filled with courageous adventures and thrilling events.
Getting past my disappointment, and casting away my expectations of a horror genre, I find the book good enough. It’s not exactly a one of a kind story since it has elements that are also found in numerous fiction books such as supernatural abilities, time travel and the battle between good and evil. But then it is unique in a way that the author was able to weave a story out of 10 different vintage snapshots with from various collectors. Each photograph fits the narration so well and they are a great help to the readers’ imagination.
Also, I marvelled in the inclusion of Jacob’s family relationship like the fact that he shared more time with his grandfather that his dad did. Add in the fact that he was to become the manager of their family business in the future. These were crucial parts that helped Jacob grow into what he is. In also tapped on the ever present issue with teenagers: how the adults fail to listen to them. This was very evident during the time when Jacob confided to his parents what he saw the night his grandfather killed. Being realistic adults, his parents thought he had a problem and immediately seek psychiatric help. It just goes to show that sometimes, parents have to listen and hear out what their children have to say.
In the end, I felt that like reading a less complicated Harry Potter book due to its many parallels. Jacob found out that he was special and that he sought to save his friends from the monsters that tried to harm them. He also had to leave his ordinary life for a more dangerous yet extraordinary one. Although there were interesting twists and turns in the story, I felt that if not for the creative authentic photographs this book has to offer, it wouldn’t be such an appealing book. I was actually tempted to put it down and not finish reading but then I gave it a chance. I wanted to finish it so badly that I was a bit angered and surprised by the ending, which was a cliffhanger. Oh well, the book was not bad. Maybe the sequel would lift my interest with this book as I wanted to know more about what will happen to the characters. I would give it a 3.5/5.