A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs.
As our story opens, 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 who once lived here - one of whom was his own grandfather - were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow - impossible though it seems - they may still be alive.
Have you ever started reading a book thinking it was going to take you in a particular direction, only for you to be taken off in a completely different direction altogether? That's what happened with me when I read Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, a story that is the perfect example why you shouldn't prejudge a book based upon its cover and blurb, or even its opening chapters. Being a lover of horror I jumped at the chance when the generous people at Quirk asked if I would be interested in receiving a copy - everything about it shouted "read me - I'm going to creep you out!", but how wrong could I have been? This is not a horror story, but to label as fantasy would, I feel, do it something of an injustice as it is more than that. I'm struggling here - I think it almost defies description - and this is why this review is going to be shorter than the majority that you will find on The Book Zone as I want everyone to discover this story's unravelling the way I did.
What I will say about this book is that it totally enchanted me in a way that few books have. I'm not saying it is the best book I have ever read, but for some reason the story sucked me in completely and left me wanting so much more at the end (warning - this is the first in a series and as such there are many loose ends left untied come the final page). Perhaps it was the author's beautiful prose, or the incredible photos that accompany the story, but something in this book struck a magical chord inside me.
Ah yes, the photographs, I really should say a little more about them as it was these that had me dropping everything to read this book as soon as it arrived in the post. Spaced throughout the story are the most fantastic vintage photographs, pictures that when you look at some of them closely will have you thinking that something isn't quite right. As an example have a look at the girl on the font cover image above and you will see exactly what I mean. Naturally, I flicked through the book looking greedily at all the photos before I even started the story and didn't notice many of their peculiarities, but these soon become apparent as the tale unfolds. Incredibly, the author assures us that every photo in the book is an authentic, vintage photograph and none of them have been altered to suit the story.
This is a book for boys and girls of all ages from confident reader young teens all the way up to readers in their 80s and 90s. If you don't like horror then please do not ignore this book for fear that it will scare you. Yes, there are a handful of creepy moments but it is certainly not a scary story. This is a book for readers who love stories that take them away from the world they think they know, and if you want something different in your reading diet then Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children is the book for you.