Jacob Portman always thought his grandfather’s tale about fleeing from Poland to escape monsters who he later went on to fight was something like a fairy, a tale he’d concocted to articulate the horrors of life during World War II to his small grandson. But when Jacob is sixteen, a horrible family tragedy occurs. Soon, Jacob finds himself travelling from Florida to Wales, in search of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. It isn’t long before he begins to wonder whether there might have been more truth in his grandfather’s stories than he could possibly have imagined.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a haunting fusion of photography and narrative. It represents a labour of love for Ransom Riggs (is this his real name? it’s amazing) and his fellow collectors who salvaged the vintage photographs which are a key part of this eerie scrapbook novel. Though the photographic element of the novel is compelling, this is in no way a gimmick to sell an inferior piece of writing. The story and characters would be engaging on their own, but the photographs do add a disturbing realism to this tale of the paranormal. The designer and production team deserve some kind of award, it’s a real work of art.
Upon finishing this novel, I not only wanted to know when the follow-up is due(Quirk Books has an untitled Miss Peregrine sequel as being available from June 2013, no cover design as yet) but found myself wanting to know more about the improbably named and wholly brilliant Ransom Riggs. Wikipedia tells me that he is an American author, but he must have spent some time around the Welsh because even as an enthusiastic (and slightly prickly) Welshie, I found myself laughing at the realistic representations of Anglo-Welsh dialect “I said shaddap, ya dozy bastards” and the slightly Chavvy boy rappers Dylan and Worm, who might easily have been inspired by Maggot and his friends in Goldie Lookin’ Chain.
Not only am I looking forward to reading about Ransom Riggs’ peculiar children, but I will be experimenting a bit more with titles from Quirk Books. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a little gimmicky for my liking, but I think that Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children demonstrates a genuine commitment to a more experimental type of publishing and they have to be applauded for this.
I’m really excited about some of the promising sequels being released in 2013!