Den Of Geek Book Club: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

This month's book club fiction choice is Ransom Riggs' Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children...

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is easily one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read, but I have to tell you all that I really enjoyed it. It surprised me by how good it was, and that’s saying something because I’d heard a lot of positive things about it by the time I picked it up. But I wasn’t expecting the depth it had or how spot-on some of its observations would be. I went in expecting the peculiarity, obviously, but I got so much more than just a weird book about strange children. My breath caught in my throat multiple times in the first half of the novel as Jacob and his father uncovered more and more about Grandpa Portman’s past and the conversation the two share about why Grandpa Portman had his children — and treated them as he did — before becoming very close and loving with Jacob, stood out to me as a particularly sharp observation.

I will admit that there were a few things about the novel I didn’t care for (I felt like the romance between Jacob and Emma was unnecessary and slightly creepy, and that the term “hollowgast” was a bit too on-the-nose given the metaphor of the Holocaust), and the ending particularly felt rushed and awkward. These things are worth noting, particularly the last one, since it doesn’t really feel like the story is over; it feels more as though the author simply decided he didn’t want to write anymore and sent it off to the publisher. While I know that’s not what happened, that’s the way it feels. When the book ended, I found myself turning the pages and asking, “That’s it? That’s the end of the book? It just… stops there?”

But these things did not ultimately detract from my enjoyment of the novel. I particularly loved the way Riggs is able to keep a foreboding and creepy tone throughout the novel without forcing it, which thanks in huge part to the setting of Cairnholm. The way it hangs over the story is a testament to how important setting can be.

I might be in the minority on this, but I also really like the way Riggs writes fight scenes. He has this odd stuttering start-stop quality to scenes that feels strangely realistic to me. For example, in the climax, when the wight drops the gun and it falls down the stairs. Most of the tension falls out of the scene. It’s much more subdued for awhile, before the action ramps up again once Jacob and Emma are in the sea. In most action scenes, something like that wouldn’t happen; rather, the action would be sustained at a high level through the end. But I feel like it’s much more realistic that people pause in the middle of fights, that Jacob and Emma have to hide in the sheep pen or that Bronwyn takes the time to stop and drop a house on the hollow just to be sure. It’s an odd way to write action and totally not what I am used to, but I really enjoyed it.

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I hope you enjoyed this month’s book. Let me know what you thought in the comments! Aliya will be back on October the 1st with Silent Comedy by Paul Merton.

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