REVIEW ALSO ON: http://bibliomantics.com/2011/06/25/biblioma ntic-book-club-%E2%80%9Cmiss-peregrines-hom e-for-peculiar-children%E2%80%9D-by-ransom-riggs/
I had a lot of expectations when I started Quirk Books first young adult novel. I was under the assumption that it was a frame story a la The Princess Bride (R.I.P. PETER FALK!!!! ::sniffles::) meets The Island of Dr. Moreau. So basically Abe telling Jacob stories about his stint at Mrs. Peregrine’s orphanage. In actuality, the novel ended up being Groundhog Day meets X-Men, with the infinite time loop that the peculiars are stuck in being Bill Murray’s purgatory like Groundhog Day and the peculiars themselves being the X-Men, hiding from a world that’s frightened of them. Although there are no groundhogs and no matching spandex suits.
There’s the headmistress Miss Peregrine who controls time and can shape shift into a peregrine (a falcon for you non-Ornithologists or people who are too lazy to use Google and/or Wikipedia), Emma the fire starter, Millard the invisible boy, Olive who can levitate, Claire who has an additional mouth behind her head, Hugh who has bees living in his stomach, Bronwyn the strong girl, Fiona who controls plants, Horace who dreams of the future, and Enoch who has the ability to transfer life from one object to another. Sadly none of them are blue, can teleport, or have ridiculous sound effects like BAMF! and SNIKT!
The peculiars, as with all superheroes (or in this case prior circus performers- same thing?) have their own villains to battle, in this instance deformed peculiars bent on discovering immortality. After an experiment gone wrong these peculiars morphed into hollowgasts, evil creatures who live in horrible pain that can only be assuaged by eating peculiars. They also have tentacles for mouths, bringing tentacle rape and Cthulhu fetishes to a whole new level (insert cunnilingus related tentacle joke here). After feeding enough they are then able to transform into wights and pass about in normal human society, Jeffrey Dahmer being one such known wight who kept his taste for flesh. The narrator refers to them as “something out of David Lynch’s nightmares”, a reference I both appreciate and am frightened by. What could David Lynch possibly have nightmares about? Probably something much worse than the man behind Winkie’s.
A big selling point of the novel are the vintage photographs that Riggs introduces. The photos scattered throughout the novel intertwine with the plot and often seem to inform/create the narrative. Sometimes this works extremely well, as in the beginning of the novel when Abe is literally showing them to Jacob and less so later on, when the connections to the photos seem forced. Occasionally, but not often, the narrative seems to merely skew off to discuss a non-event merely so the author has an excuse to use the photo. It’s like how manatees write “Family Guy”. Once or twice I felt this happening with the photos, but it was my only major complaint in this extremely entertaining novel.