The story opens with a horrific family tragedy in the USA that sets 16 year old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of a home for children. As Jacob explores abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the charges under Miss Peregrine’s care in her Home for Peculiar Children were more than just peculiar.
This is an extraordinary debut – a novel that works its magic not only through words but also by the judicious use of vintage black and white photography. The text/image combination seems as fresh and innovative here as it does in other books (Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, for instance). Many of the images are intriguingly weird, adding much to the atmosphere and plot.
By story’s end though, certain plot threads are left hanging – and the Welsh setting is hardly convincing – but overall this is an excellent read, a fantasy that breaks the mould. This is suitable for readers of all ages, and is recommended especially for cynical adults jaded by the whole fantasy genre. It could become a classic.
About the Reviewer: David Murphy’s latest novella Bird of Prey was published in the USA in 2011. A previous novella Arkon Chronicles appeared in paperback from Silver Lake Publishing (a small press) in 2003. His novel Longevity City was published in hardback by Five Star, and well received, in 2005. Award-winning short fiction has been published and translated worldwide, including two chapbooks and a short story collection. Website at www.davidmurph.wordpress.com