Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children


“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.” –Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Quirk
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Source: Personal Collection


A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

–From Goodreads

My Thoughts:

I started reading this book while sitting on an airplane that was “overweight” and was consequently delayed for an hour and half. In spite of (or maybe because of) the “will we or won’t we ever leave the ground” drama playing out in the background, I found myself getting surprisingly sucked into this novel. I had previously held out on reading Miss. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children because I had been run over by the “hype train” one too many times (i.e. The Hunger Games trilogy, Water for Elephants, etc), and I learned it was part of a series (groan). However, I kept hearing about how “unique” the book is, and that it was going to be made into a movie. So I caved.

As I alluded to above, the novel starts off really strong. I enjoyed following Jacob, the protagonist, as he navigated the often tricky teenage existence. He has a job he hates (and doesn’t try very hard at), his parents don’t understand him, and he doesn’t fit in very well with people his own age. Jacob is however very close with his grandfather, Abraham, who shows him pictures of children he knew on an island in Wales. Riggs’s prose is sharp and witty in these early pages, and I found myself nearly laughing out loud (on a crowded plane full of cranky passengers nonetheless). The vintage photographs were also fascinating, and I liked how they were tied into the story.

However, after Jacob sets off in search of the children in the photographs my enthusiasm for the story began to wane.  The prose became much more sloppy, and the photographs come so quickly at parts that they seem to detract from the story rather than add to it. This is especially true with regard to the peculiar children themselves–I had to keep flipping back and forth because I couldn’t keep them all straight. I also had a hard time accepting the world Riggs created since it wasn’t well explained and there were many plot holes in the explanation. Hopefully, some of these will be cleared up in the next book in the series.

What I think this book is really lacking (or at least lacking for me) is character development. Aside from Jacob, most of the other characters are so flat and underdeveloped that they are forgettable. There are a few who stood out (Emma, Abraham, Miss Peregrine), but they were in the minority. I especially do not understand why more time wasn’t devoted to Jacob’s parents. Clearly, Riggs is trying to paint them as the stereotypically “absent and vapid” parents, but they were almost comically unbelievable to me. Why not just have Jacob be raised by his grandfather? Not only would little have been lost from the plot by omitting Jacob’s parents, but I think the narrative would have felt more genuine.

And one other thing: the love story? No. Just no. I can’t say anymore without giving away spoilers, but if you’ve read it I’m sure you understand what I’m getting at.

Overall, I really like the premise of this novel and am curious enough after reading the ending to give the second book in the series, Hollow City, a try. The best parts of the book–the beginning, the atmospheric setting of Wales, and the peculiar children–offset the bad parts enough to make the reading experience enjoyable. So in the end, while this book didn’t live up to its initial promise for me, I still think it was pretty good.

What Others Had To Say:

*Let me know if you have a review published and I’ll add a link to it!

My Review In Four Lines:

  1. Rating: 3/5 stars
  2. What I liked: The visually stunning photographs, the overall premise of the novel
  3. What I didn’t like: Lack of character development, the bad romance, and slow second half of the book
  4. I would recommend this book for: People who like vintage photographs and/or enjoy young adult books


Note: I did not receive any compensation whatsoever for this book review. All opinions expressed are my own.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. biblioglobal
    Jul 02, 2014 @ 21:35:34

    I had been vaguely thinking that maybe I ought to read this one. I’m glad that your review didn’t make me want to add it to my reading list!


    • exlibrisheather
      Jul 03, 2014 @ 12:31:49

      It wasn’t the worst thing I ever read, but I wouldn’t rush right out to buy it either. Honestly, if I had already accumulated the second book in the series I’m not sure I’d ever get around to reading it. I’ve seen your reading list–you have way more important books to read 🙂


  2. Geoff W
    Jul 07, 2014 @ 10:16:04

    Oh I haven’t decided on this one. I really love the cover, but wasn’t aware it was in a series which puts me off. I need fewer series to read.


    • exlibrisheather
      Jul 08, 2014 @ 13:24:39

      Agreed. Plus this book leaves off with a cliff hanger so you basically have to keep reading the series if you want any kind of resolution. It’s a little gimmicky in my opinion and really irritated me.


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