Monday, June 27, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs tells the tale of Jacob Portman, an ordinary sixteen year old whose life becomes extraordinary thanks to his grandfather, Abraham Portman. As a young child, Jacob had been in awe of his grandfather's incredible tales of being shipped away from his home for his safety; sent far from his native Poland, to a children's home on a magical island and the peculiar children with special gifts with whom he'd shared his childhood, all protected by a wise old bird from grotesque monsters with rotting skin and tentacles coming out of their mouths. Each tall tale had been brought incredibly to life in the form of old wrinkled and yellowing snapshots which Abraham had presented as proof to his grandchild. The fantastical and frightening stories had prompted both admiration and nightmares in young Jacob, until the day he grew up and stopped believing. At which time, each tale had been explained away by Jacob's father, as mere exaggerations of the truth and more horror story than fairy tale. Abraham was in fact just one of the many children shipped away from their homes for their safety prior to World War II breaking out, the Nazi's were the monsters he'd narrowly escaped, though his family--mother, father and brothers--weren't as lucky, and the only peculiarity for which the children were hunted for was their Jewishness.

Despite not believing his grandfather's stories, an unbreakable bond still existed between Abraham and the now 15 year old Jacob, so when Jacob receives a frantic call from his grandfather, he rushes to his side, only to find his beloved grandfather injured and dying, setting in motion a chain of events which will change Jacob's life forever; splitting his life into two halves: Before and After. Jacob is struggling to come to grips with his grandfather's death and to find meaning in his last cryptic words, when he receives a mysterious letter from Headmistress Alma LeFay Peregrine which sets him on a journey to a faraway island which holds the secrets of his grandfather's childhood, and potentially the path to his own life's greatest adventure.

I so enjoyed this book! An incredible fantasy filled with adventure, intrigue, love and one or two monsters to keep it a little interesting. The book wasn't at all what I expected, but it was nonetheless a wonderful surprise. One of the most intriguing and brilliant features of the book is the array of authentic vintage photographs which the author interspersed throughout the novel. The photographs which were lent from the personal archives of ten collectors, were woven into the story so seamlessly that it added a wonderful touch of credibility to this most fanciful of fairy tales. The book spends some time setting up the mythology and lore of Miss Peregrine and her wards which leads me to believe (and hope) that a sequel is in the works. I can't wait!!