I know this sounds ridiculous but I’m going to say it anyway. I put off reading Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children because I hated the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi. Yup, I judged one author’s work based on his marital status to another author… Classy.
But the great reviews, and the found photos that are so integral to the text, eventually reeled me in.
Brief note on me and old photos:
There was a time when I was obsessed with Victorian photography, especially “hidden mother” and, wait for it, postmortem photos. Yea I’m a morbid creep. But it’s so interesting that, at a time when portraits were rare and expensive, family members who hadn’t had a chance to photograph relatives while they were living would stage portraits after that person died. As in there are photos of dead people pretending to be alive. Some even standing, propped up on elaborate stand and rigs. Soooo creepy! Even more creepy are the family photos where you can play “spot the dead one”. Thus the idea of a YA novel using Victorian and other vintage era photographs to tell a story was one that really appealed to me.
And with that explanation out of the way, let’s continue with the review.
I really enjoyed the photos. It was fun reading knowing a photo was coming up and trying to guess what it could be. But even without the story I would have happily flicked through a book just of pictures. Like I said, old-timey photos are my jam.
I also really like the “side-show” feel of this novel. It reminded me of shows like American Horror Story that play with this vintage circus theme with varying degrees of success (Someone remind me to re-read The Night Circus please. Thanks).
And just the whole “frozen time” thing I found a really fun concept and I think it will be really interesting to see how this is developed in the next novel.
For me the plot just fell flat. For a lot of it, it felt like the author was relying too much on the photos and the concept and didn’t put enough effort into everything else. Yes, it’s an awesome and unique way to tell a story, yes the characters are intriguing and fun, but we need a bit more substance as well!
Also the romantic element felt forced. This book doesn’t span a lot of time, and I know the kids are pretty isolated and in need of fresh blood as it were, but given the context and back story… I just didn’t buy it. At least not in the short amount of time that it happens in.
It all just felt a bit predictable and more of a setting up story than a story in it’s own right. Which, being the first in a series, maybe I just have to realize that that’s what it is.
So let’s just say that, while it’s a solid idea and a fun read, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children definitely left me wishing there was more to it. The story had a lot of potential but in the end even the photographs couldn’t lift it above average for me. I will probably read the next one at some point but I’m not rushing out to pick it up.
I know there are a lot of people who absolutely adore this series and I’m interested in hearing your take on it. But for me:
3 out of 5 stars