I have always loved the thought of this book – ever since someone mentioned the title to me a couple of months ago. First of all, what a captivating title. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, a title which first evoked images for me of a cheery little Mary Poppins kind of children’s book. But I looked it up online and got a completely different impression (in a good way!) Horror! It’s horror isn’t it? Freaky photos, a twisted title and an unbelievably sinister synopsis! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy! The Library had a massive waiting list, so I had to wait for a while. But it was worth the wait.
In the meantime though (whilst I was waiting) I discovered that this wasn’t the horror book that I had been anticipating. It was classed as more of a ‘Sci-fi’ piece of fiction. This admittedly disappointed me a little, but looking back (having read the book now) I look at it in more of a ‘Horror-Fantasy’ genre (if there even is such a thing, ha ha!)
So, the story is written in the point of view of a sixteen year old boy called Jacob/Jake and surrounds his bond with his grandfather and the mysteries that entangle his childhood. It all started with his Grandfather telling him stories – fairytales really, about a childhood in the care of a headmistress called Miss Peregrine, amongst children who had extraordinary gifts. She (according to his grandfather) lived on an island off Wales and ran this home for peculiar children. Naturally, as Jacob got older his belief in these stories diminished, but strangely his grandfather still insisted that they are all true, right up until his death. When he dies, Jacob is at loss of what to believe and he is referred to a physiologist as a result of his faith in these strange tales. His grandfather’s last instructions were: “Find the Bird in the loop.”
Although Jacob is being seen by a physiologist, he is finding it hard to let go of the weird tales that had entertained him, his whole childhood long and insists in visiting the island which was the centre of these stories. Accompanied by his father who uses the trip as a birdwatching expedition, he ventures into the location of his childhood and discovers some amazing things. This book is really effectively fast-paced and well-written. It was a treat to read (especially at these exciting parts!)
Jacob discovers Miss Peregrine and her weird home for ‘peculiars’. Peculiars, in my opinion, are best described in this sinister explanation: “The Muslims drove us out. The Christians burnt us as witches. Even the Pagans of Wales and Ireland eventually decided we were malevolent faeries and shape-shifting ghosts.”
Peculiars each have something strange about them. One of them can leviate. One has two mouths. One can make fire with their bare hands. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is a safehaven for them. It is in a loop stuck on the day – 3rd of September, 1940 – before the home got bombed in WWII. Jacob manages to access the loop and befriend the Peculiars and then he finds out that both he and his grandfather belonged at the home, too…
I just LOVED this book, right from the first page! I would recommend it to all lovers of fantasy, but I would still insist that this book does touch on horror. Judge that for yourself by the following photographs taken from the book itself. So although that it is sort of a Sci-fi book in a way (concerning the inhuman powers), there is a delicious sense of dark, twisted horror present throughout the entire book. It’s going on my Christmas list, certainly, along with the sequel: Hollow City and possibly the third book in the series, too – Library of Souls. One of the best books I have read all year. I rate it highly, as you can tell! 🙂