I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.
A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.
| I chose this novel to fill the “Chilling Children” square of my 2017 Halloween Book Bingo.
I was pleasantly surprised by this young adult fantasy. An interesting amalgam of “found” photographs and a fantastical tale and the two work very well together. Jacob Portman has had an uneasy relationship with the stories that his grandfather, Abraham, tells about his childhood orphanage and its occupants. We get to share in his confusion, as he attempts to ascertain which elements of the story are true and which are tall tales.
In many ways, we all have to perform this task—examine the family stories and family history and see how much of it is useful or relevant to those of us in the present. I’m a family history researcher, so perhaps I see value where others don’t, but I don’t feel that any family information is useless. If nothing else, it tells us where our family attitudes and habits come from. At best, it can show harmful family patterns that a person can discern and avoid. No need for a young woman to marry an abusive man and learn the hard way—examine your ancestress’ lives and either find a caring man (or woman) or choose to stay single.
I also liked Jacob’s father, who was lured to the Welsh island by potential birding opportunities. I’d be right there beside him! If I have any complaints, it would be the lack of resolution at the book’s end, requiring the reader to move on to the next volume for closure (and since there’s a 3rd book, I’m sure the same will be true of the second book).