A while back I happened to come across the photograph above on the internet. I was intrigued both as a lover of photography and all things weird. I instantly tried to track down it’s origin and my search brought me to this curiously titled book. They say never judge a book by it’s cover but in this case I was so impressed with the design of the cover I would have bought it for that alone.
Out soon on paperback, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is the first novel from wonderfully named author Ransom Riggs (that’s his real name by the way – well done Mr & Mrs Riggs!) an avid collector of vintage photography from pretty much anywhere he can find it. In this book he uses some of his most unusual discoveries to weave a gripping fantasy centred around a young teen Jacob who after witnessing the death of his grandfather Abe at the hands of a terrifying creature, discovers a life hidden from him until now except for some odd photographs of children doing seemingly impossible things shown to him over the years.
In an effort to understand what has happened and conserve his own sanity he follows a trail of clues which lead him all the way to a remote Welsh island to find the orphanage where his grandfather spent his childhood during the 1940’s. He finds the house in ruins after a German raid during World War II but on following a strange girl he recognises from one of the old photos through a Cairn – an ancient neolithic tomb he exits in the 1940’s with the house fully restored and populated by the aforementioned Peculiar Children who possess strange powers, protected by the enigmatic Miss Peregrine.
What follows is a wonderfully written adventure both original and captivating and at times chilling . Riggs has a wonderful, almost forensic eye for visual detail (his previous book was the amazingly detailed Sherlock Homes Handbook which says a lot!) and constructs a vivid world to play out the unfolding storyline. To the author’s credit as the story transfers from America to Wales the transition is pretty seamless. Riggs understands the language and customs of the area and this section doesn’t feel as if it’s written by a tourist. As the story reaches it’s conclusion we’re prepared for a sequel (Hollow City, due January14th 2014) by a thrilling cliffhanger .
The other wonderful feature of this book is the book itself (I’m speaking of the hardback version here as this was my review copy) – beautifully bound with classic fonts and high quality paper and peppered with those wonderfully creepy photos it’s one of the best designed books I’ve seen in years and the Quirk Books team have to be applauded for their efforts in creating such a beautiful piece.
Looking forward to Hollow City!