Bookish's Reviews > Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
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Jun 04, 2011

it was amazing
Read in May, 2011

When I first heard of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, with its intriguing title, cover, and premise, I was immediately smitten. I love odd books and this one seemed unique in every way. I’m very glad to report that Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was so enthralling that it overcame jet lag from a 10-hour plane ride – I just had to read to the end!

Jacob has always been in awe of his colorful Grandpa Portman, who told him stories about his fabled childhood in a faraway island where he lived in order to hide from monsters. Jacob first believed in his grandfather’s extraordinary tales of his friends, strange orphans with magical abilities, especially since his grandfather had photographs as proof of their existence. However, as he grew older, Jacob began to doubt that the stories, the orphans, or the photographs, were real…until his grandfather’s cryptic last words and a letter from a mysterious Miss Peregrine spur Jacob to search for his grandfather’s childhood home, which turns out to be in a small island off the coast of Wales. What he finds there is completely unexpected.

“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.

...

“I gathered up what scrawny courage I had and waded through waist-high weeds to the porch, all broken tile and rotting wood, to peek through a cracked window. All I could make out through the smeared glass were the outlines of furniture, so I knocked on the door and stood back to wait in eerie silence, tracing the shape of Miss Peregrine’s letter in my pocket. I’d taken it along in case I needed to prove who I was, but as a minute ticked by, then two, it seemed less and less likely that I would need it.”


What happened to the inhabitants of this devastated ruin and how was Grandfather Portman involved? Jacob’s investigation turns from creepy to heart-palpitatingly scary, then poignant. Where the story went truly surprised me, not only delivering on its promise of eccentric and dark but inventing a rich and magical other world of “peculiar” children and monsters that’s convincingly woven with real history.

The writing is so descriptive and evocative that I now question if the vintage photographs interspersed throughout the narratives are even necessary to the enjoyment of the story. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was apparently inspired by these weird photographs the author found, each with something so off-kilter about them that they can inspire multiple fantastic stories on their own. While I loved the photographs, they were a bonus rather than essential.
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