Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
The main character in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is 16 year old Jacob Portman. Growing up, Jacob loved listening to his grandfather tell fantastical stories about his life in an orphanage on an island in Wales. Tales of an enchanted place with monsters and peculiar children with unusual abilities. Jacob began doubting these stories as he grew older and came to think of them as phantasms representing his grandfather's life as a WW2 orphan in war torn Europe. But a family tragedy sends Jacob on a quest to find out if his grandfather was merely an extraordinary storyteller, or if there is truth and danger in those old stories. This quest leads him to a crumbling old ruin, in the midst of a foggy bog, on a remote island off the coast of Wales. Strange happenings here lead Jacob to ask: Are there really monsters? Are the peculiar children still alive after all these years?
Ransom Riggs weaves his tale around real vintage photographs, some of which are rather haunting (see the photo that gave me the creeps at right!). This device is quite clever and definitely adds to the tension and sense of "otherness" in the story. The book trailer makes the story seem like it might veer toward horror, but I found the book to be more disturbing, eerie and mysterious than horrific; the focus is more about what we, and Jacob, don't know and don't understand than it is about monsters jumping out at us from the dark.
A coming of age theme brings a bit of depth to the story. Leaving childhood and learning to face the monsters in our lives is every bit as disturbing as the story the author tells, but I'm not sure the author meant the story to be a metaphor so much as an excellent example of storytelling.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children appears to be a standalone novel, but the author could certainly continue the story at a later date. I would be satisfied either way. I'm not sure if the book is being marketed as a Young Adult (YA) novel or not. It could certainly be considered YA, but I think it also has a wider appeal and adult readers will find it intriguing and entertaining.