Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a unique YA (young adult) novel as part of the tale is the vintage photographs scattered throughout the book.
1—A Peculiar Tale
I wasn’t certain what to expect when I opened Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children but what I got was subtle magic threaded through with both wonder and unease, punctuated by brutal violence. The story opens with Jacob finding his grandfather brutally killed and from there the story is a journey of discovery—equally a mystery and an adventure—about who his grandfather really was.
Is Jacob crazy or did he really see a monster? Were his grandfather’s fantastic stories true or were they lies? Or were they not so much lies as they were a means of coping with a terrible past? Even knowing that the stories were true and the monster was real, going along with Jacob as he discovers these things was magic in its own, even before we meet the peculiar children. This story is very much about the journey.
The peculiar children themselves were both fun and unsettling. Fun because of their powers, unsettling because after decades reliving the same day, they’re still children…and yet not. There’s something lurking under the childlike behaviors and mentalities that we get only fleeting glimpses of, something I hope we get to see more of in the next book. But let’s get back to the fun.
There’s Hugh, who has bees living inside him, and Olive who floats and requires lead shoes. Fiona can control plants and Millard is invisible—a very handy trait. And there’s Emma, who can create fire in her hands and was in love with Jacob’s grandfather and now has an attraction to Jacob. The question being, does she like Jacob for himself or is he a replacement for the love of her long-short life?
The monsters come in two flavors—wights who look human except for their blank pupils, and hollowgasts with steak-knife teeth and tentacle tongues, who barely retain any humanity at all. Both crave human flesh, that of peculiars in particular. Both were created in an ill-fated experiment to become immortal. And if a hollowgast can eat enough peculiars, it becomes a wight.
There is something about the cannibalism, the absolute selfishness of it, of turning another person into food, that encapsulates what makes the wights and hollowgasts truly monsters—not the hunger itself, but the original lack of care for anything but their own ends when they engaged in their experiment. An experiment they intend to repeat, even if it destroys the whole world.
I thoroughly enjoyed Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and will definitely be getting the sequels. This first book has a complete story but is also the beginning of another larger story that I look forward to reading.