I absolutely loved this book! Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs came highly recommended last year by a woman I used to work with. While perusing my local library’s digital loan library recently, it showed up as available. I jumped on it and began to read it right away, with little knowledge of what it was actually about. After the first chapter, I went back into the library app to put holds on the other three books in the series. I didn’t need to finish this one to know that I’d definitely wanted to read the rest of them. I did read it in about three days, though.
The book starts out with sixteen-year-old Jacob losing his grandfather in a mysterious attack. He saw some kind of monster kill Abe, but no one believes him. Jacob starts to see a shrink and begins to accept that he just had a stress reaction. His therapist encourages him to visit the island where his grandfather lived while hiding from Nazis. Jacob convinces his father to go to the small island south of Wales for a few weeks.
While exploring the uninhabited, far side of the island, Jacob finds the ruins of his grandfather’s childhood home. It’s clear that no one has lived there for a very long time and it was likely destroyed during WWII. After he breaks open a trunk of old photos, he sees some of the children from the photos watching him from higher floors in the house. They run away, he chases them, and winds up following them into an ancient burial cairn in a swamp. But when he gets to the back of the chamber, no one is there. He exits to find that the weather and even the time of day seems to have changed.
Upon returning to the town, he notices there are no generators providing electricity. There are horses, not cars. People’s clothes are different. He eventually comes to realize that he’s somehow time traveled back to the 1940’s. Jacob makes nice with the children he’d seen before and meets Miss Peregrine for the first time. She accepts Jacob and welcomes him to stay with them.
He knows he can’t stay, though. He can’t spend the rest of his life, trapped in a time loop, his age frozen, forever living the same day over and over again. He can’t just abandon his family like that. He promises to keep visiting for as long as he remains on the island with his father.
Then, of course, drama ensues. That horrible monster that Jacob saw kill his grandpa? Yeah…turns out that is Jacob’s peculiarity. It was also his grandpa’s. No one else can see these monsters, who strive to eat peculiar children. All of these children, who’ve been frozen in time since the ‘40’s, have something “peculiar” about them—some strange supernatural talent. One girl can make fire, one can fly, one can make things grow, there’s a boy who can control bees, and even a boy who dreams the future, among others. Miss Peregrine, of course, can become a bird and she controls time. It is she who created and maintains the time loop that is trapped in the 1940’s.
The monsters only Jacob can see—called hollows—attack Jacob in present-day. He has no choice but to go back to the past. A hasty goodbye leaves his father confused and terrified, doubting his own sanity now right alongside his son’s.
This novel was an absolute thrill ride. I couldn’t put it down and every time I did, I couldn’t wait to pick it up again. I really loved it and plan on reading it again someday. The descriptions of the settings were detailed and really helped me picture the places where the action was happening. The action was also well painted with words. I liked how the author stayed true to perspective and did not reveal things that would not be known. The pictures throughout the book were a fabulous bonus to a wonderful, exciting, and intriguing story.