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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs
Quirk Publishing, $10.99, 227pp
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" reads like a fantasy/adventure/thriller for young adults. My book club recently chose it and everyone in the group who read it all agreed that it's quite an enjoyable ride for children of all ages.

The story is told from Jacob's point of view. He's a young man who talks about wondrous stories his grandfather, Abraham Portman, told him as a child and the orphanage he grew up in, complete with odd looking pictures of children. Of course, as he starts growing up he comes to realize that his grandfather must surely have made these stories up. Children could not possibly shoot flames from their hands, lift things that adults cannot, be invisible, float on air, etc. Pictures can be faked, right? He begins to resent his grandfather for making him believe he could lead an adventurous life like those told in the tales. However, when Jacob gets older and realizes that he can never have such a life, he decides he'd be happy just to be normal and fit in at school and with his family instead of being an oddball.

After receiving a desperate call from his grandfather, Jacob arrives to see a nightmare vision of something unbelievable attacking him. Grandpa Portman dies after uttering a cryptic message to Jacob. No one will believe what he saw, and he starts to think he's gone crazy over the loss of his grandfather. His parents make him see a psychologist and, from then on, his life drastically changes.

Jacob finally decides the only way to get on with his life and be normal again is to unravel the mystery that was his grandfather. He convinces his father that he needs to visit the orphanage where his grandfather spent time as a child, located on an island in Wales. What Jacob finds, after much tribulation to get there, is an eerie, abandoned house, with a large hole going through half of it, caused from mortar damage during the war. He also discovers a trunk that is loaded with interesting photos, just like the ones his grandfather shared with him as a child. When he actually meets Miss Peregrine, who runs the house, and some of the children from the photos, he finds that he's stepped back in time and that the nightmare creature he saw kill his grandfather really does exist. Things get really interesting for Jacob; it's as if he's experiencing one of his grandfather's adventurous stories for real.

To me, the overall story was reminiscent of the movie/book, "Big Fish", which I really enjoyed, having the characters of the story being wondrous but as real as you and me. The author did a great job, especially given that this was his first novel. He's a collector of strange and odd photos and that's where he got the concept to write the book, by creating interesting stories and descriptions from the pictures. I found this an enjoyable read, and would recommend it to everyone who likes an adventure fantasy. There is a sequel, called "Hollow City", which I will be reading in the very near future; I hope it will be as good as this book was.

This book is available in several formats, but if you want to get a better look at the photos that accompany the character descriptions, you will want to get the hardback edition. ~~ Dee Astell

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