One look at the cover of Miss Peregine’s House of Peculiar Children might just make you feel a little creeped out. A solitary little girl floating in a black and white photograph. After much debate a year or so back, I finally picked up a copy of this book or the start of a series, since the second book was released. I wasn’t exactly sure if I was ready to jump into this world yet but with the burning desire for horror of late, I decided to give this book a read.
Let’s check it out!
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.
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. – Goodreads
I wish I could say that I loved this book because the initial potential and the idea of it is so good. The set up of the book and simply the premise interlocked with the idea of using old black and white photographs from collections and what not. Plus, abandoned orphanage, island in the middle of nowhere, bare minimum technology and creepy peculiar children and a story that started in World War II traced back in the modern day is the perfect recipe for a horror, no? The problem with this is that Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was giving the impression of a horror novel but it wasn’t. I felt a little cheated. You can argue that I’m an adult so how I view horror is different (if you’re new here) but my tolerance of my childhood fears really hasn’t changed too much. The only one I have conquered is my fear of clowns and I still make an effort to not get too close to them. But if there’s anything that makes a horror movie scary is putting in children…freaks me out every time. So, if Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was right on the way to get me all creeped out except it wasn’t what I had the impression of and in a way, it was a let down. I really don’t like feeling like anything is falsely advertised, whether its novels or movies or whatever else. It kind of messes up the experience for me. Now, if I put that aside, because I eventually did about a quarter into the novel.
One negative down, how about a little positive that made Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children somewhat enjoyable was that the build-up was so slow but effective. Once the mystery is revealed, its kind of like walking into an enchanted other world because that is what the book does, it did fall a bit flat and forced. There were snippets of excitement as the main character Jacob starts looking in the abandoned and destroyed orphanage. The atmosphere there was great. It really was. Except when the mystery popped open, there were moments where it was still a little too slow paced for my liking. It was obvious that the idea behind this novel was great but on paper, it didn’t execute quite as well and as intriguing and it would be.
More points go to the characters though. Not the main one. While I give full respect to our main character Jacob for trying to find his grandfather’s past and understand it. The end goal was to prove that the man he respected and looked up to wasn’t a loon and that everything he believed was true. The efforts were really there and that’s what made the beginning great. Except Jacob was kind of like this rich brat who already had everything paved for him but he wasn’t really grateful for what he had. Just altogether not really a likeable character. While his character did change and develop as the story moved along, he became a little more acceptable. But still, sometimes his decisions are at times questionable.
However, the other characters, pretty much the children and Miss Peregrine, now they are rather weird and peculiar. The creativity behind the stories of these children and Miss Peregrine and just who they are and their abilities are very fun to learn about. In a way, their story was the best part of the novel because it gave us something different. Although I felt that the pacing could be the better, the enemies and the whole other world concept was good.
Overall, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is definitely a little odd and awkward. I wish I liked it more. I truly did. While it wasn’t horror, it was more of a mystery mixed with a tad of time travel and magic in the form of their peculiarities. Think of a circus with an interesting blend of characters with abnormal talents and that is who these children are. The story started off slow and while the plot did thicken and it did seem like it was going in the right direction. Something didn’t work for me. The ending did lead up to build for the sequel and while a little forced and I feel that a sequel is quite unnecessary, the ending had built up good content whereas the beginning was fantastic because of its atmosphere. Two very different ways of approaching how to pull in the readers. Sad to say, I still felt it fell a little short for me and I’ll have to give it some thought whether I’ll continue on with this series especially when I wasn’t too fond of the main character here.
Have you read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? What did you think of it? If you haven’t, have you heard of it before? What was the impression you got from the cover?