Jacob has grown up listening to stories of his grandfather’s childhood: how he as a young jewish boy in pre-war Poland was ripped apart from his family and sent by himself to an island off the coast of Wales for safekeeping. How he grew up in a children’s home full of peculiar children with weird abilities, like the super strong boy who could lift giant boulders by himself, or the levitating girl who had difficulties keeping her feet on the ground. How he left them all behind to fight the Nazis in World War II, to join the circus, to travel to America and raise a family. As he lies dying in the woods, raving about monsters, he whispers a mysterious riddle to his grandson: Go to the Island, Yakob. Here it’s not safe. Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man’s grave. September third, 1940.
This book was unlike any other I have read. The author, Ransom Riggs, has created a perfectly strange, creepy, yet charming story whose atmosphere is enhanced by a series of old black and white photographs depicting ghostly children and unsmiling faces. I first thought the photos were created for this book, but in fact they’re borrowed from real collections (there’s a list at the end of the book), which makes them even more creepy/awesome. The book cover is one of them, and I must admit, that’s what made me pick up this book in the first place (I totally judge books by their covers).
Our protagonist, 16-year old Jacob, is instantly likeable. He’s funny, sweet and seems real somehow, probably because he actually has a well-developed personality (which makes me wonder if he’s maybe based on the author himself). He had me when he built an exquisite replica of the Empire State building out of adult diapers, only to knock it over. That was when I knew I’d love this book.
Check out the book trailer:
Jacob’s story is an adventure, a mystery, and a little bit of a romance, all rolled into one. The book kept me guessing, which made it hard to put down. So it’s good news then that it’s the first in a series (yay, more!). I really recommend Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children if you enjoy fantasy and paranormal stories! And also, if you can, you should try to read it on a gray skied, rainy autumn afternoon by a window overlooking the ocean, in a comfy old chair in a room lit by candles. Preferably inside a World War II museum. Not to go overboard or anything.
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.