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Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

01/05/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children in the USA - or Buy Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children in the UK

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pub: Quirk Books. 352 page hardback . Price: $17.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1.

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For as long as he could remember, Jacob’s granddad has told him stories and showed him photographs of his time at ‘Miss Peregrines Home For Peculiar Children’. But Jacob grows up and doesn’t believe his granddad’s stories anymore. He’s a classic teenager, a fish out of water and adrift in a world he doesn’t fit in to.

One day he gets a desperate call from his raving granddad who believes someone is trying to kill him. By the time Jacob gets there with his friend, Ricky, his granddad is dead in the woods outside his home. It’s then that Jacob sees the monster that no one else can see, the one that killed his grandfather.

Except that it’s all his imagination. His friend confirms there was nothing to see, no monster with a yawning maw of writhing tendrils. Jacob goes into therapy and a sharp decline until the day he sets off to find the home his granddad left in 1940.

A modern boy on a quest to find some kind of truth to prove he is not mentally disturbed sounds like a hilarious premise for a novel. This is aimed at probably mid-teens and upwards and includes all the inevitable teenage angst about how growing up really sucks. The introspection makes for a great narrative and as the truths Jacob thought he could rely on gradually unravel we learn pretty much at the same time as him that the world is a far more uncertain place than even Jacob could have imagined. Nothing is quite the same again.

‘Miss Peregrines Home For Peculiar Children’ includes a series of original, archive photographs that supposedly back up this story. The aging photographs all catalogued at the back, are a window into a lost world of people probably long dead and are a touching an personal embellishment to the narrative. This feels like a genuine and original novel that brings a new cast of characters into being. I think there will be a sequel and I am intrigued to find out what will happen next to Jacob and his friends.

Sue Davies

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