When in doubt, fall in love with the same woman that your grandfather fell in love with 50 years ago. Just ignore the fact that she’s a 90-year-old woman in the body of a 15-year-old who can somehow make fire spring out of nowhere. Everything will work out, right?
This seems to be the mentality of Jacob, the main character in Ransom Riggs’ novel “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” After his grandfather is murdered, Jacob sets out for a small island in Wales to look into his grandfather’s dark history.
What he finds instead is a school run by a shape shifting woman named Miss Peregrine. All of the kids in the school have ‘peculiar’ powers— you know, being invisible, floating off randomly, being able to rip hearts out of living creatures and stuff them into toys to make them alive. You know, the usual.
Oh, and the school has been stuck in a time lock since World War II. But don’t ask me how Jacob got there; it’ll all be explained to you.
There are two absolutely brilliant things about Riggs’ novel: one, his use of vintage photography. The photos—all of them real, and all of them randomly found in random sales in his travels- — are stunning. I actually skipped ahead in the story to look at the photos, which you really shouldn’t do, as all the photos are tied into the plot.
The second is his story. You’re kept on your toes the entire time — nothing is as it seems, and everything can change in a heartbeat.
On the other hand, you run the risk of wanting to strangle the main character. Every single one of the kids taught by Miss Peregrine are original and witty and fun to read about, but the main character makes you want to slam your head against the table. Jacob isn’t stupid. He’s just so insanely naive about life that you wonder how he convinced his parents to let him go to the island at all. Who just ditches their entire life and leave their family behind to go frolic with a girl who may set you on fire at any moment!?
If you can resist the temptation to stab Jacob with a fork, the photography, the peculiar children and the crazy beasts after them make it easy to enjoy “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.”