Chills and Thrills: Read “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” this Halloween


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If you are looking for a thrilling book this Halloween, be sure to pick up “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.”

Nicole Kowalewski, Herald Reporter

What if you were born just a little bit different from everyone else?

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”by Ransom Riggs introduces the world of the peculiars, a collection of individuals possessing strange abilities and attributes that set them apart from the rest of humanity.

Hunted by bloodthirsty creatures called hollowgast, peculiars live under the protection of their ymbrynes, women who can transform into birds and manipulate time. Ymbrynes — including the titular Miss Peregrine — house their wards inside loops, which are portals of safety where the same day is repeated over and over again.

For centuries, pockets of peculiars have lived inside these loops, never aging and sheltered from the threats of the outside world. But peculiardom cannot stand divided for long.

Meanwhile, Florida teen Jacob Portman has grown up listening to his grandfather’s extraordinary tales of a pipe-smoking headmistress keeping watch over a house full of odd children.

Yet, as Abraham Portman began to succumb to dementia, Jacob dismissed these stories as fairy tales until a horrific night left him clinging to his grandfather’s dying words: “Find the bird in the loop…on the other side of the old man’s grave. September 3rd, 1940.”

Packed with fascinating characters, chilling creatures and haunting vintage photographs, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is the start of an epic six-book series perfect for the spooky season.

Riggs’ almost lyrical prose coupled with bizarre black-and-white found photography creates a uniquely eerie experience that perfectly captures the allure of peculiardom.

This first installment in the series was actually written around an assortment of pictures that Riggs collected, with the ensuing novels building off of the established plot. This technique works exceptionally well, and I often found myself flipping through the book just to review the photos scattered throughout. Rest assured, these images will stay with you long after the cover is closed.

If you are not looking for nightmare material, never fear — this book has much more to offer. Each character is vividly represented in a way many YA novels fail to achieve, and it is easy to fall in love with Miss Peregrine’s motley collection of young peculiars.

Each character has distinct quirks and depth — some of which align with their peculiarities. Keep in mind, Riggs does not give his characters “superpowers” in the usual sense of the word; some peculiar features are passive or of little obvious use. The only commonality is their eccentricity.

Little Olive, for example (pictured on the front cover), was born lighter than air and cannot walk on the ground without weighted shoes. Delicate Claire possesses a second mouth in the back of her head. Cynical Enoch brings life to inanimate — or, just as often, dead — figures with a collection of pickled animal hearts. This is not your dime-a-dozen novel about a bunch of kids with magic powers.

The promised thrills are also present in this novel, with a more adventure-heavy plot picking up in the following books.

Spooky season or not, “Miss Peregrine’s” is a worthy read. Taking the plunge into the darkly fascinating and delightfully strange world of the peculiars will leave any reader wanting more.