Sunday, September 18, 2011

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN – RANSOM RIGGS


My sister-in-law had a copy of this title and said it was really good. I wanted her to give it to me but she passed it to my niece (her daughter) instead so I looked for a copy from an online vendor. When my copy arrived it was slightly damaged but I couldn't send it back because by then I desperately needed to read it. The vendor did give me a discount so that is fine too. Starting it last evening I read today until finished. I do have to say once started I wanted to have undisturbed reading time to the end.

Years ago I read and loved several books based on the premise of true stories told in the form of fairytales. In the beginning this book seemed to be one of those. Aging Abraham Portman has told his grandson Jacob stories about himself as an orphan fleeing “monsters” in the 1930's and living in a magical children's home where life was beautiful and children could levitate, hold fire in their hands, lift incredible weight, and other such wonderful things on an island off the coast of Scotland. Abe's story appeared to be a Holocaust story cloaked as a fairy story.

The format of the book is wonderful and the book is beautiful. The end papers and chapter divisions look like aged fabric and the chapters include old photographs of peculiar looking children. Many of the photos are downright creepy. The photographs represent characters from the book and mostly children who lived under the protection of Miss Peregrine in 1940. I liked the construction of the novel and the idea of the home being for children who were either orphaned, or abandoned and who had supernatural powers. Probably because I had a preconceived notion that this would be a supernatural thriller I felt disappointed that it was actually an alternate world time travel fantasy. But, by the time that realization set in I was hooked.

It is through the grandson Jacob that the reader follows Abe's clues to Scotland, finds the “loop” where he time travels to Miss Peregrine's orphan home. There is enough action, gore, monsters, and suspense to keep the pages turning. The characters are not only peculiar but also so creative. It is most definitely the marriage of the eerie pictures with the text that makes the book so good.

Not being familiar with Quirk publishing led me to investigate. Quirk can be found at quirkbooks.com and you will see that they were established in 2002, are “seekers of all things awesome,” and publishers of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and other such silly books that make some of us laugh and make some of us mad.

One tiny little quirk of my own got a workout though. I hate typos and situations that I can't work out appearing in a finished book. It always leads me to believe the publisher doesn't have good enough proof-readers. On page 140 Jacob has his hands tied behind his back. When asked to remove his shoes and socks and roll up his pant legs he does. I am pretty sure most of us could not do that while our hands are tied behind us. Typos included a may when it was supposed to be my, they for their, and a few others I noticed. Also a few of the pictures didn't have corresponding characters at the home and I was disappointed, like the dog with the head of a boy. Oh well. 

I can't help but still think about the kids at my old school AC that are readers of fantasy and thrillers. I hope their new librarian buys this book for them and I hope they find it, read it, and enjoy it as much as I did. 

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