It was only fairly recently that I discovered Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. The first in the Peculiar Children trilogy it was originally published in 2011, and next week a film adaptation directed by Tim Burton will be released in cinemas. Its premise intrigued me – an abandoned orphanage on a remote Welsh island, and the mystery of what is hidden within its walls…
‘When I was a kid, Grandpa Portman’s fantastic stories meant it was possible to live a magical life. Even after I stopped believing them, there was still something magical about my grandfather. To have endured all the horrors he did, to have seen the worst of humanity and have your life made unrecognisable by it, to come out of all that the honourable and good and brave person I knew him to be – that was magical’
The story is narrated by Jacob Portman, a teenage boy who following a family tragedy sets off on a journey to find out more about his family’s past. This journey takes him to a mysterious island off the Welsh coast, which is home to a crumbling ruin of an orphanage – Miss Peregrine’s home for Peculiar Children. This sinister discovery raises numerous questions for Jake – who lived here, why did they live here and could they still be alive? Jake soon discovers that there is more to this house than meets the eye, as he uncovers eerie photographs of its inhabitants and realises that the children who lived here were more than peculiar. Under the care of mysterious headmistress Alma Peregrine, who has remarkable abilities of her own, the children seemed to have powers beyond his comprehension, and could even prove to be dangerous.
‘I’d always known I was strange, I never dreamed I was peculiar.’
I was intrigued to read that Ransom Riggs wrote this story after he began collecting vintage photographs, particularly those that were strange or haunting. Fascinated by these photographs and their subjects, Riggs decided to write the stories behind the pictures. These photos are used throughout the book and the reader gets to discover them along with Jake. I thought that the photos and text worked well together and I loved how the weird and wonderful characters had been created from this piece of history. Each mysterious photo had a story to tell, and they helped to create an unnerving and unforgettable story. This story was particularly tense and atmospheric to begin with as Jake first discovers the house and the haunting things it contains. I was eager to find out who lived there and what their peculiarities were which made for a gripping read, and this was before the peculiar children themselves are faced with a threat even more haunting…
‘I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.’
I really enjoyed reading Miss Peregrine’s – a story of a fantastical world of peculiarities, hidden monsters and even time travel. This combined to create a strange, magical tale that provides a fascinating glimpse into a new world. I am now looking forward to reading the next two books in the series, Hollow City and Library of Souls, to find out what adventures are in store for these remarkable, peculiar characters.
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, the movie tie-in edition, was published on 2nd August 2016 by Quirk Books. Many thanks to Jamie-Lee Nardone for providing a copy for review.