Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children is a young adult book about a safe place for children with extraordinary abilities. This place, which is trapped in a 1940s time loop, is then discovered by a teenager named Jacob. Sound familiar?
Usually when a novel feels reminiscent of previous tales, it gives the entire story an air of laziness. It just ends up feeling like the author’s primary concern was to take what people liked from previous stories and add them into a hastily made melting pot. And if the author doesn’t care about the story they are telling, then why should we?
But not in the case of Miss Peregrine.
This book feels like many a young adult and/or children’s story before it. It has the gothic aspects of Lemony Snicket, with a fantastical world that mimics books from Tom’s Midnight Garden to Narnia.
However, instead of feeling like a worn out cliché, this book feels like coming home. It recreates the warmth of its predecessors wonderfully. As a result, atmospherically it is a joy to read. But this is also a world with danger continuously lurking for our protagonists. There are always monsters around the corner. Monsters which also have really cool designs and that feel genuinely threatening. Enough to be very effective antagonists.
As for the main characters, Jacob doesn’t really have much of a personality, but he is likable enough. In addition to this, there are enough colourful characters in the house itself to hold the readers interest.
But the greatest part of this novel has not even been brought up yet and is entirely unique. That is the way in which genuine vintage photographs are used to tell the story. This then creates a fantastically eerie atmosphere, which lingers for all 300 or so pages. In addition, to have the characters presented to you visually in this way brings the story to life in an entirely fresh way. And the way in which the pictures are linked in with the narrative and are often added in at just the right time is very clever indeed.
Overall, this is a warm and entertaining book that will keep you hooked until the end.