Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs (Quirk Books, June 2011, YA on up, 352 pages)
On an island off the coast of Wales, there was once a home for peculiar children, and one of the children who lived there was Jacob's grandfather. He told Jacob stories about the children-the girl who could fly, the boy who had bees living inside him, the brother and sister who could lift boulders...and showed him old black and white pictures of these friends from his past.
And he also told Jacob about monsters--the stuff of nightmares.
When Jacob was 16, he saw his first monster. And then he went to Wales, to the place where the peculiar children had lived long ago...
Here's the trailer. Watch it.
And that's all I'm going to say about the story, except for a spoiler coming up at the end of the post! But I could talk at great length about the delicious strangeness of the book--its odd combination of horror and enchantment, and its mesmerizing, creepy, beautiful, haunting, disturbing photographs....it's not a cozy comfort read. But boy, once things get going, it is a zinger!
I have never ever seen found photographs used to such great effect--these are all real pictures. That part of the book is brilliant, and makes this a book that is unforgettable. I wasn't convinced by all aspects of the plot, but that, I think, was because I was so mesmerized by the characters and their circumstances that "plot," with all its messy concomitant happenings and conflicts, seemed extraneous and felt a tad forced.
If you feel stuck in a reading rut, whether your rut of choice be lighthearted fantasy for the young, scary stories or steamy paranormal fantasy for the somewhat older, do give this a try! I didn't take it to my heart in a warm and snuggly way, but it was one of the most memorable books I've read in ages, and I couldn't put it down!
Here's another review, relatively spoiler-free, at Stainless Steel Droppings, that's worth checking out if I haven't already convinced you.
And now for the spoiler.
more spoiler space!
Here's the spoiler:
This is a time travel book (that's why I'm reviewing it this Tuesday, as is my time travellish wont!). So not only does the reader get peculiar orphans (almost always a plus as far as I'm concerned), she gets orphans suspended in WW II. Their home has been inserted into an endless loop of one repeated day, a loop into which Jacob plunges, stirring things up on every level, creating paradoxes, emotional conflicts, and bringing Danger to the idyllic (or is it?) world of the peculiar children.
You can almost hear creepy music playing while you read....
disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher.