YA, Horror, 352 pages, Quirk Publishing
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- Why I read it: Creepy crawly, little kids that freak me out, WWII, let's do the Time Warp again
- Disclosure: Received a review copy from the publisher. Thanks!
A mysterious island.An abandoned orphanage.Judged by its Cover: Definitely a favorite of mine. It's weird, creepy, and eye-catching - perfect for the book!
A strange collection of very curious photographs.
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.
A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography,Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
When I first received the review request for this book, I turned it down. Then I saw a glowing blurb from John Green. And while usually a blurb is not enough to sway me, this time it was just enough to make me change my mind and give this one a chance; a chance which it immediately took advantage of by grabbing me by the throat and never letting go. So thank you, John Green, because without your expert guidance I almost certainly would have missed out on one of my favorite releases of 2011!
If anyone wants an example of small press done right, then this book is it. It combines all of the advantages of small press publishing - unusual formats, off-trend stories, bizarre or creepy content that mainstream publishers might not be willing to risk - with meticulous editing and beautiful writing that made this story shine to the very best of my potential. My biggest complaint with small press and indie publishing is that the books often fall just short of what they could have been. Miss Peregrine's, however? Pitch-perfect in every way.
The text itself, full of lovable and freaky characters, a riveting mystery, and a time traveling twist reminiscent of the Wyrd Museum trilogy I read and re-read maybe a dozen times between grades four and six, would have been more than enough for a glowing review from me. It's the antique photos, though, that really sent shivers down my spine, and made this book not just a good debut, but a great one. It's thrilling to see an author with this much vision show up on the YA scene, and while I know I say I'll keep tabs on maybe dozens of debut authors, Ransom Riggs is one that I will really be keeping my eye on.
My biggest complaint is, as usual, the cliffhanger ending. It's such an insecure way to try and keep a reader interested, in my opinion - create a world I want to live in, and I'll be happy to keep reading your series, cliffhanger or no cliffhanger - and it's showed up in YA way too often post-Hunger Games. Still, this felt like a cliffhanger a la the class YA adventure books I grew up with (the Inkheart books by Cornelia Funke come to mind), so I can forgive it - mostly. It's going to be a long wait until the sequel releases in Spring 2013.
Besides the pictures (and mostly because of them), what stands out to me about this book most of all is that it wasn't afraid to be leave-the-light-on-before-bed-dive-under-the-covers scary. Polish grandpa suffers a gory death by nightmarish monsters within the first 50 pages? F*^&ing terrifying, and I don't mean that sarcastically. I can't think of a novel I've read this year that scared me more, in a good way. Horror is probably the most neglected of all the YA subgenres, and if that means I'm missing out on stories like this, then that's pretty depressing.
...and the Short.
Genuinely terrifying and full of lovable and freaky characters, Miss Peregrine's makes for a terrific time traveling mystery not to be missed.
The Final Word: Loved it!
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is available now!