Russell Riggs’ first novel “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” sat on my bookshelf for the past three summers. This Christmas, my older sister picked it up and read it, which of course left me very curious. I decided to read it as soon as she finished. “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” follows Jacob, an apathetic, antisocial high school aged kid from Florida, whose family has grown very wealthy through the development of a pharmacy chain. Jacob isn’t close to anyone except for his elderly grandfather, who was a teenager himself during WWII and had to flee his native Poland because he was a Jew. Jacob’s grandfather often told Jacob stories of children with superpowers and monsters who were constantly chasing the children, but Jacob and his family dismissed these stories as grandpa’s way of coping with the trauma of WWII despite the bizarre photographs that Jacob’s grandfather had to offer up as proof. When Jacob’s grandfather dies, Jacob struggles to sift the truth from the fiction of his grandfather’s life.
What makes this YA novel super interesting is the incorporation of genuine, largely unretouched vintage photographs that Riggs’ borrowed from friends’ collections to use as plot supporters. The novel is peppered with these bizarre photographs that were most likely manipulated using burning, dodging, and double exposure techniques in the darkrooms of yesteryear. I’m giving this book a four star rating, rather than a three, mainly because I so enjoyed the plot’s embellishment with the vintage pictures (seriously, how original of an idea was this on Riggs’ part?!), some of which I’ve included below:
I really loved this novel and it was the first one that I’ve read in a long time that I hoped wouldn’t end when it did. Unbeknownst to me, on the day I finished “Miss Peregrine’s Home,” Riggs released his second novel “Hollow City,” which serves as the second installment of what is now known as the “Peculiar Children Series.” I ordered “Hollow City” on Amazon and am looking forward to continuing the search with Jacob.