By Eileen Ramos
If you’re interested in an innovative way of storytelling then be sure to check out Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. This debut novel contains vintage black and white photos interlaced with a fascinating story which was inspired by those same pictures. You will meet a sixteen year old boy named Jacob Portman who has bonded with his grandfather through the elder’s fantastic and thrilling tales of levitating girls and invisible boys. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes when Grandpa Portman is suddenly killed in an extremely vicious and violent attack but not before he says a cryptic message about a letter and his old home. Wanting to know more about his grandfather and his past and trying to make peace with his untimely death, Jacob goes to a remote island near Wales where Grandpa Portman lived as a boy in Miss Peregrine’s Home.
As you and he will discover, the children are definitely more than peculiar and that’s where I stop. This story is way too good to spoil and you will be glad I didn’t reveal anymore. Don’t peek ahead at the rest of the pages and photos, let the book thrill and surprise you. The photos are so striking and strange that they will pull you deep into the story. You’ll start spinning scenarios of your own about what the intrigue the pictures entail.
Riggs has such a strong command on words painting such vivid visuals that the photos are more like bonuses than necessities. Case in point, this is what Jacob sees when he first sees the house:
The trees parted like a curtain and suddenly there it was, cloaked in fog, looming atop a weed-choked hill. The house. I understood at once why the boys had refused to come.
My grandfather had described it a hundred times, but in his stories, the house was always a bright, happy place—big and rambling, yes but full of light and laughter. What stood before me now was no refuge from monsters, but a monster itself, staring down from its perch with vacant hunger. Trees burst forth from broken windows and skins of scabrous vine gnawed at the walls like antibodies attacking a virus—as if nature itself had waged war against it—but the house seemed unkillable, resolutely upright despite the wrongness of its angles and the jagged teeth of sky visible through sections of collapsed roof. (p. 78-79)
With such mesmerizing and horrid imagery, you will definitely want to discover what lies inside this house and let me tell you, it’s a story worth reading. The images on the page will make you feel like you’re on this journey with Jacob as you flip through the pages. Just like Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close does with Oskar and his family. This book is so well designed that it looks just like an old photo album.
Riggs’ narrative was not what I expected, a number of surprises are thrown at you. So if you want to be thrilled and chilled to your very core, get Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Eileen Ramos is an enthusiastic introvert who has a fervor for words. She loves collecting them and seeing how they fit in, and expand, her world. She’s a writer by day, sleeper by night (well, sort of) and she can’t wait to see what title she earns next. For more information or to link with Eileen, check out her LinkedIn profile.