By Ransom Riggs
Place: Publisher & Year: Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, contemporary fantasy, time travel fantasy, historical fantasy, mystery, paranormal, historical fiction
Series: The author’s blog (8/9/2011) states that there will be a sequel to this book.
Audience: Young adult
Number of pages: 352
Setting: Englewood, Florida & Cairnholm, Wales
Time period: Contemporary & 1941
Plot summary: When Jacob Portman’s grandfather is killed in the woods behind his house, the police decide that he was attacked by feral dogs. Jacob was in those woods that night, though, and saw something that was not a dog. What he saw could only be described as a monster. Of course his parents and the police don’t believe him when he tries to explain this to them. After this, Jacob has terrible nightmares and doesn’t want to leave his house, even in broad daylight. Jacob’s parents send him to a psychiatrist where he undergoes months of therapy. Eventually, Jacob convinces his parents to allow him to travel to Wales over the summer. He intends to find the home where his grandfather lived as a child. He also hopes to find some answers to the mysteries which surrounded his grandfather.
Illustrations: The story is interspersed with old black and white photos which highlight characters and scenes. Some of the photos featuring children in odd outfits and poses are rather disturbing (such as Boy in Bunny Costume, p. 86).
Pacing: Lots of action mixed with the pictures and dialog make this a quick read.
Characterization: The story is told in first person through Jacob. Important secondary characters include Jacob’s dad, Miss Peregrine, and children from the home, particularly Emma.
Frame: The title and photos found in the beginning and throughout the book set the frame; it is a peculiar story about peculiar children.
Story line: An entertaining (and peculiar) story which highlights unusual, old photographs.
Orphanages — Juvenile fiction.
Islands — Juvenile fiction.
Orphanages — Fiction.
Islands — Fiction.
Mystery and detective stories.
Somewhat similar works:
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill
The Witches Daughter by Paula Brackston
Personal notes: I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I loved the photos in it. It almost seems like the story was written to highlight the photos. In the author’s note at the back of the book, Riggs states that the pictures “are authentic, vintage, found photographs” (p. 350). The fact that these are found photos make them all the more mysterious.
I was a bit disappointed with the ending – I wanted a bit more closure. I’m happy that there will be a sequel to this book. Perhaps I’ll get my closure from it.
Other: Diversity – Children with unusual abilities, orphans, shape shifters, wights, hollowgast