Rating: ★ ★ ★
I feel this title has been stuck in my brain for ages – it’s possibly one of the longest titles I’ve seen in YA fiction, and one of the most interesting to say (Miss Peregrine is a lovely name), so I decided to give it a go, quite excited at the prospect of a scary YA novel. Although this book was fun and quite spooky at times, I feel like it was just a little bit too slow for my liking, and could have done with some more action.
This novel is about Jacob Portman, whose beloved grandfather dies in a horrific accident. However, Jack doesn’t believe that it is an accident. After years of hearing his granddad tell him stories about his childhood in a home for ‘peculiar’ children, and years of dismissing these stories, Jacob begins to wonder if they are true. In an attempt to help Jacob recover from his trauma, Jacob’s parents agree to allow Jacob to visit the Welsh island where his grandfather lived as a child and try to find out more about this home. While there, Jacob stumbles upon a derelict house, meets a girl called Emma who can travel through time, and is transported back to the world that his grandfather grew up in. It is a world frozen in time, and the house, headed by the stern Miss Peregrine, is filled with tons of peculiar children, each with their own peculiar characteristic, from an invisible boy, to a girl who floats unless weighted down. As he begins to piece together the truth about his grandfather’s death, Jacob discovers that this magical world is also in danger, and when they are all threatened, he must decide which world he cares for the most.
This story is such a good idea. I loved all of the peculiar children, especially seeing the photographs which are included to show you exactly what they are like. I think this was a great touch to really make the story feel real, and also make it scarier. Some of the photographs were truly quite scary and sent shivers down my spine, adding to the experience of reading story a great deal. I think that there was nonetheless a nice balance between Riggs’ world-building and the actual story, as it never felt as though I was in the middle of an information dump and being bombarded with information. Rather, everything was released in a way that felt subtle and natural for the story. The world itself was fascinating, such as the little frozen world set in the 1940s in a time loop, unknown to the people living on the island. I also loved the hollowgasts as villains, and thought that they are a rare example of genuinely scary monsters in YA fiction.
On the other hand, despite all these great aspects to the book, it was just too slow for me. The beginning, with Jacob in California before we have any contact with the peculiar children was too long. Although as the story unfolds, we learn that a lot of the details in this bit are relevant, I wish that we could have dived into Miss Peregrine’s world a little bit quicker. Even when we did meet Miss Peregrine and the children, some of this was a bit slow as well. There was a chunk of the book that was Jacob playing with these children and getting to know more about them that felt like it was a bubble of happiness without much relevance. I would have liked here as well for the subsequent action to have picked up a little quicker. However, Riggs did make up for this with the absolutely thrilling chapters that followed, which truly were filled to the brim with action. I think that my restlessness with reading this book simply stemmed from the fact that I knew there was something big coming, and I wished I could get there sooner. Perhaps some more foreshadowing in this middle section of the book could have fixed this issue, or perhaps just for the action to have begun earlier.
Overall, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was a good book. Not great, but good. It kept me entertained and hooked because I knew that something big would come soon enough, but I wish that I hadn’t had to push myself to muddle on through the middle section and had simply found the whole book exciting.