Book of the Month

June Book Of The Month – Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children By Ransom Riggs

Hannah Walton-Hughes

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is a dark fantasy novel by Ransom Riggs, published in 2011. It has since been succeeded by five sequels, and its film adaptation in 2015 was directed by the infamous Tim Burton. Told through a combination of narration and vintage photographs, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is a haunting and unforgettable read. Hannah Walton-Hughes recommends. 

I must admit, Miss Peregrine was one of the only books I have read where I saw the film adaptation first. Whilst the film was undoubtedly impressive, I did feel that it went downhill in its second half and I therefore approached the novel with some sense of apprehension. However, I soon learned that you should never judge a book by its movie. 

After his grandfather’s mysterious death, Jake vows to track down Miss. Peregrine and her children’s home

Miss Peregrine is narrated from the point of view of Jacob Portman, a teenage boy whose grandfather, Abe, used to tell him stories of a special children’s home. Its inhabitants each had abilities that made them unusual; in other words, they were peculiar children. Abe tells Jake of how the children’s home was presided over by its headmistress, Miss. Peregrine, a type of Peculiar called an Ymbryne. After his grandfather’s mysterious death, Jake vows to track down Miss. Peregrine and her children’s home, with the hope of validating Abe’s tales, and learning the truth about who his grandfather really was. What he doesn’t realise is that he will also learn a great deal about himself along the way. 

I found the types of peculiarities both brilliant and endearing; from pyro kinetics, to floating, to super-strength, Riggs creates such a variety in the children; all these skills become invaluable as the story unfolds. I personally wished for every single one of these powers as I read the book!

In the children’s home, time stands still in a ‘loop’

My two favourite characters in this book are Emma Bloom and Miss. Peregrine. Emma has such fire (no pun intended!) but is also fiercely loyal. As readers, we cannot help but pity her; she has been through so much heartbreak, and clearly wants more than her restricted life at the children’s home can offer. The way in which she acts as a ‘leader’ to the other children, never lets us forget how old she really is; in the children’s home, time stands still in a ‘loop’; whilst Emma is sixteen in looks, she is in fact over 80 in normal years. 

Miss. Peregrine herself is iconic. Whilst very set in the Victorian attitudes of her time period, she also demonstrates an intense level of understanding and care, treating the children in her home as her own. Comical, strong and impressive sum up Miss. Peregrine as a character; she is one of those fictional characters that I would love to meet in real life. 

The vintage photographs in this book are unlike anything that I have ever seen before. Using images that Riggs himself collected over many years, they are harrowingly realistic, and really help to spark the imagination of the reader. Some are bittersweet, and some are downright terrifying! They help to tell the story and are beautifully integrated into the narrative.  

The genre of this book is hard to pinpoint. It feels like it is part fantasy, part horror and almost part fairytale, with its curious happenings and mystical location. I would like to take a minute to talk about the location; choosing to place the children’s home on an isolated island in Wales really helped to build up the tension in the first part of the book; we, as readers, are waiting with bated breath for Jake to find the source of all of his grandfather’s stories. 

A book well-deserving of the awards it has obtained

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is an unforgettable read that I would recommend to anyone even remotely interested in the fantasy genre. The relationship between characters, the setting, and the highly original storyline make it a book well-deserving of the awards it has obtained. I for one am very excited to read the sequels; I have well and truly been drawn into the world of the peculiars! 

Hannah Walton-Hughes

Featured image courtesy of Ed Robertson via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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