Friday, February 10, 2012

REVIEW: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

“And that is how someone who is unusally susceptible to nightmares,night terrors, the Creeps, the Willies, and the Seeing Things That Aren't Really There talks himself into making one last trip to the abandoned, almost-certainly-haunted house where a dozen or more children met their untimely end.” 

Jacob grew up listening to his grandfather's stories about how he escaped the war in Europe and hid from monsters in an idyllic home for children with strange powers. As he got older, he started to realize that there was probably no such thing as girls who could levitate, or boys who could pick up giant rocks, or the mysterious caretaker of the house, "The Bird" - Miss Peregrine. Or child-eating monsters with tentacles coming out of their mouths. He distanced himself from his grandfather and ignored his desperate phone calls, blaming it on senility... until his grandfather ends up brutally murdered, and Jacob sees a glimpse of a monster disappearing into the dark woods. After many visits to a therapist, Jacob embarks on a quest to find the house, find Miss Peregrine, and get some answers. He gets more than he bargained for. 

I have a problem with expectations. I expected that this book would scare me shitless. That it would be full of thrills and chills, and that I would not be able to sleep. Like a weird mix of X-Men and the Woman in Black. That is not at all what this book is, and I was kind of disappointed. 

Don't get me wrong, this is a great first book for Riggs! He has some fun prose, like "The sky was the color of a new bruise." The beginning is fantastic, setting up his listless life, the shock and horror of his grandfather's murder, and the aftermath where everyone thinks he is crazy. I love his initial investigations when he sleuths around the Welsh island. I got some minor thrills when he is exploring the dark, musty ruins of what once was Miss Peregrine's Home, trying to solve the mystery of their fate, while hoping their ghosts did not kill him in the process. The last 50 pages are chock full of thrills, murder, monsters and bombs. 

However, (spoilers) he discovers the pocket of endless summer that is "the loop," an idyllic haven for the peculiar children who are now in their 80s, but eternally in children's bodies, still approaching the world as children. This was less satisfactory for me than if their was some element of Claudia from Interview with a Vampire in there. Fun, fucked-up psychology of an 80 year old trapped in a child's body. Anyway, this is where the story stops dead for me. They go swimming, and fall in love, and yes there are interesting characters to be introduced to, and lots of explaining, but other than that, not much happens for a good 100 pages. 

One interesting fact about the book is that all the photographs are real. He pulled them out of archives, yard sales, and personal collections. Sometimes I felt he was writing to justify the picture's presence in the book, but other times they creepily supported and expanded upon the text. 

It is a charming book (which is not what I expected to say about it), and a well-written first part of a series. At least it reads that way. I hope there are more books coming that can get into the guts of the action, mystery and horror without the weight of exposition. 

I said the same thing about the last book. Am I growing impatient?

Regardless, here is the awesome book trailer:

And here is the making of the book trailer:

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