Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The story begins with Jacob discovering his grandfather dying gruesomely of wounds inflicted by a monster that no one believes is real. After some gaslighting by his family and a psychologist, he follows up on stories his grandfather told him about his childhood in a sort of orphanage on an island off the coast of Wales. Jacob travels to the island and stumbles into the past, learning the truth about the orphanage, his grandfather, and himself. The novel is illustrated with weird black-and-white carnivalesque photographs of children that really add to the mood.
Jacob is a strong narrator, with a believable teenager’s voice, grappling with his identity and his grandfather’s past. The plot is tightly constructed, using a unique conception of time travel to create some good surprises in the climax. I’m having trouble avoiding spoilers in this review because the entire concept was so strange, and only revealed gradually. The mystery and sense of discovery would be gone if a reader already knew what was peculiar about the children and their home, so I feel spoilers are worse than usual in this case. The one weak point of the story is probably the villains, which just seem like generic bogeymen. They have a flimsy framework of motives and backstory, but are underdeveloped, especially in comparison with the other characters.
The novel ended with a sequel obviously in mind: the children leave their home to go off to have more adventures traveling through time in pursuit of the villains. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading this book and I’ll be looking forward to the next installment!