As I have gotten older, I’ve gotten more picky about the books I read.
It’s actually kind of a sad reality for me. Not every book that I pick up is as fantastic and amazing as I want it to be. Sometimes—horribly—I don’t finish the books I pick up. It is my firm belief that a book you don’t like is a book that is not worth finishing. There are just too many amazing, incredible books out there to waste your time on a book you don’t love.
When I was younger, I finished everything. I loved everything. I reread almost everything. But now, as an adult and a writer with higher standards, it is difficult to find books that meet my expectations the way they did when I was younger.
And yet, it does happen.
Every once in a while—in a very long while—I will stumble across a book that stuns me. The way it’s written, the brilliance of its characters, its plot, its world, will carry me away, and for a while, I can be a kid again.
I spend a great deal of my life searching for those books.
Not too long ago, I found one. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. As so often happens, I saw it in bookstores and libraries, and thought, nah. It looked—weird. A little creepy. A little dull. Definitely not the kind of book that would sweep me off right off my feet.
Boy, was I wrong.
The story begins when Jacob Portman witnesses the death—or murder—of his aging grandfather, long believed by the rest of his family to be senile. Jacob isn’t so sure, however, and his grandfather’s last words—and the stories he has been telling Jacob since he was a small boy—lead him to a small island off the coast of Wales. Somewhere on the island is the ruins of the children’s home that his grandfather grew up in, a place that Jacob has heard about many times, but never seen. He is convinced that the answer to his many questions—and his increasing nightmares—lie buried somewhere in the ruins, so he goes looking.
When he gets there, he finds a girl claiming to be his grandfather’s best friend—but she is the wrong age. In fact, she’s only a few months younger than Jacob himself. Soon, the stories that his grandfather was telling him begin to make sense as he is taken from the aging ruins into a time loop, a place built specially for Peculiars—children with more to them than they let on. Against his own better judgment, he finds himself caught up in the world of the Peculiars, finding traces of his grandfather’s extraordinary past at every twist and turn and, at the same time, discovering that there is far more to himself than he at first realized.
But even a time loop has its dangers, and too soon he and the other children find themselves on the run from creatures bent on their destruction.
Unused to hostility of this kind, Jacob must choose between the dull safety of the life he had and the whirlwind he has stumbled into by accident. His decision tips the balance between living and dying for a myriad of people, including himself.
Ransom Rigg’s fabulous book is scattered throughout with black and white photos of the Peculiars that fill its pages. The vintage, eerily realistic photos bring a sense of authenticity that is—quite frankly—chilling. If you’ve got a taste for high adventure and ghostly tales, I would highly recommend this book to you!
We cling to our fairy tales until the price for believing in them becomes too high.