Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
|Genre||Young adult literature, horror literature, dark fantasy|
Published in English
|June 7, 2011|
|Media type||Print, e-book, audiobook|
|Followed by||Hollow City|
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is the debut novel by American author Ransom Riggs. The book tells the tale of a boy who, following a horrific family tragedy, follows clues that take him to an abandoned orphanage on a Welsh island. The story is told through a combination of narrative and vernacular photographs from the personal archives of collectors listed by the author.
This young adult book was originally intended to be a picture book featuring photographs Riggs had collected, but on the advice of an editor at Quirk Books, he used the photographs as a guide from which to put together a narrative. Riggs was a collector of photographs, but needed more for his novel. He met Leonard Lightfoot, a well-known collector at the Rose Bowl Flea Market, and was introduced to other collectors. The result was a story about a boy who follows clues from his grandfather's old photographs which lead him on an adventure that takes him to a large abandoned orphanage on a Welsh island.
The book has been a New York Times best seller. It reached the #1 spot on the Children's Chapter Books list on April 29, 2012 after being on the list for 45 weeks, remaining there until 20 May, when it dropped to the fourth spot on the list. Critics have generally praised the book for creative use of vintage photographs as well as good characterization and settings.
When Jacob Portman was young he was told by his grandfather that he lived in a special orphanage for children who were peculiar run by a mistress named Miss Peregrine. However, as Jacob grew older he began to question the reality of his grandfather's stories. This changed when Jacob received a distressing phone call from his grandfather, visited his grandfather's home, and saw a humanoid creature that his friend could not. Abraham, his grandfather, tells Jacob "to find the bird in the loop on the other side of the old man's grave on September 1940" and tell them what happened. The police and his parents don't believe the description of the monster (with Jacob describing it as having multiple tentacle-like tongues in its mouth), and his parents take him to see a psychiatrist, Dr. Golan. Dr. Golan suggests that Jacob go to Wales, the location of the orphanage from his grandfather's stories. Jacob initially finds the orphanage deserted and empty, so Jacob seeks information from the people around that area like the workers at the "Cairnholm museum".
During another search of the orphanage again, he sees a mysterious girl who he follows and tries to get answers from. They reach the bogs before Jacob realizes that the inn and people are different. The drunken patrons at the pub are suspicious about him and chase Jacob. Jacob realized he was back in time. Jacob then gets captured by the girl, named Emma Bloom, and an invisible boy named Millard Nillings. The trio drive away the angry mob and escape to Miss Peregrine's orphanage. Jacob is introduced to other children with peculiarities, like his grandfather mentioned. Bronwyn has amazing strength and Claire Densmore who has a mouth at the back of her head. Emma and Millard tell Jacob they are in a time loop that repeats the same day forever because of Miss Peregrine. Miss Peregrine explains to Jacob that she is a Ymbrynes which is a peculiar that can create time loops. Miss Peregrine also explains that the hollowgasts (the humanoid, tentacle-mouthed creature like the one that killed Jacob's grandfather) are a threat to all Ymbryne-run orphanages.
Miss Peregrine explains that Jacob and his grandfather are both peculiar, and their ability is to see and stop the Hollowgasts. Jacob also sees that the peculiar children do performances to entertain the crowd with their powers. Jacob then meets Enoch who has the power to use hearts from other creatures to give life to things for a short time. Jacob and Enoch discover that Victor was killed by a hollowgast and laying dead in his bed. Jacob is told about the wights that have evolved from hollogasts and hunger power from the peculiars. Jacob, Emma, Bronwyn, Enoch and Millard go into an icehouse where a man named Martin whose body was inside an lidless ice coffin so Enoch uses a sheep heart to bring him back to life briefly so Jacob can ask who killed him. Martin explains after realising he's alive that a wight killed him but then the wight turns up behind them and revealed that he is Dr. Golan. Jacob decides that he will stay in the time loop with his friends after all he has been through so he and his companions make their escape from Dr. Golan and make their way back to the orphanage but discover that Miss Peregrine was kidnapped by Dr. Golan.
Dr. Golan said that if they try to rescue her he would kill Miss Peregrine but Jacob and his friend think he is bluffing so they make their way to the shore to find him. When they find Dr Golan near a lighthouse he shoots Millard and they see Miss Peregrine and Miss Avocet in their bird forms in a cage so Jacob and Emma follow him. When they corner Dr. Golan he throws the cage containing Miss Peregrine and Miss Avocet into the water then Jacob shoots him in the throat and he falls into the darkness. Jacob and Emma follow the bird cage to the sea where they see a U-boat and rescue the cage and bring Miss Peregrine back to shore while Miss Avocet is captured by the wights and taken away on the U-boat. Jacob and his companions realise that Miss Peregrine can't change back to human form. When they return to the orphanage they find it destroyed, leaving them having to track down the wights and figure out how to help Miss Peregrine. Jacob travels back to say goodbye to his father one more time then promises to come back when he has finished his mission with his friends so Jacob and his companions all set sail on a boat to the sea to track down the wights.
- Jacob Portman - 16 years old; main character. Jacob's peculiarity is to see hollowgasts.
- Abraham Portman - Abraham is Jacob's grandfather. Like Jacob, he had the peculiarity of seeing hollowgasts. Abraham spent his adult life traveling the world defeating hollowgasts whenever he could, but kept it a secret from his family. When Abraham is killed by a hollowgast, Jacob goes into a deep depression leading his parents to hire Dr. Golan as a psychiatrist and also leading to Jacob learning about his peculiar ancestry.
- Bronwyn Bruntley - appears as a teenager. Bronwyn is imbued with incredible strength like her brother Victor.
- Claire Densmore - appears as a little girl with long golden locks that covers her extra mouth at the back of her head. She uses this mouth to eat.
- Emma Bloom - 88 years old; Jacob's romantic interest. Emma appears as a teenager and she can make fire with her hands.
- Enoch O'Connor - 117–118 years old. Enoch can bring dead creatures including humans back to life for a short time. He can also bring homunculi to life as long as they contain an appropriately sized animal heart. He has a bit of a sadistic personality.
- Horace Somnusson - appears as a teenager. Horace is capable of having prophetic dreams. He is a follower of fashion.
- Fiona Frauenfeld - appears as a teenager. Fiona has an affinity for plants and can make them grow or die and has immunity to most poisons and toxins. She keeps herself in an unkempt state, in some respects like her beloved plants.
- Hugh Apiston - appears as a teenager. Hugh has empathy with bees. He stores them in his stomach to protect them and can command them when they are released. Hugh is famously Fiona's love interest, as she is his. The other peculiars consider that since he controls bees and she controls plants, their mutual attraction is natural.
- Millard Nullings - 87 years old. Millard appears as a young adolescent in the time loop and has the extraordinary peculiarity of invisibility. Unfortunately, he is always invisible, but he wears clothes most of the time. He is also extremely well-versed in all things peculiar. he is currently trying to document the events of every living thing on the island during the loop
- Olive Abroholos Elephanta - 75 1/2 years old. Olive appears as a little girl in the time loop. She is lighter than air and will float away if she isn't weighted down or attached to a rope. In the upcoming movie, she has the peculiarity of controlling fire.
- Victor Bruntley - appears as a teenager. Like his sister, Victor also has super strength. He was killed by a hollowgast before the start of the series and his body was kept in a bedroom upstairs until they buried him.
- Addison MacHenry - Addison is a human mind trapped in a boxer's body. He lives in Miss Wren's menagerie along with many other peculiar animals. He can speak and is very intelligent.
- Deirdre - Deirdre is an emu-raffe. She has fewer legs than an average emu-raffe.
An Ymbryne is a particular kind of peculiar that can change into one kind of bird and can create and maintain a time loop; they are usually female, and protect peculiar children, adults, and animals, often rescuing them from bad situations.
- Alma LeFay Peregrine (née Bentham) - Miss Peregrine is the headmistress of the school. She is a delicate woman who enjoys a pipe and adores her charges, although she can be strict at times. She lived in Miss Avocet's loop when she was young and she can turn into a peregrine falcon.
- Balenciaga Wren - Miss Wren ran a loop for peculiar animals, but has since retired after being captured and escaped. She can turn into a wren.
- Esmeralda Avocet - Miss Avocet is an elderly woman from the early to mid-Victorian period in England. Her time loop was invaded by wights and hollowgasts, forcing her to retreat to Miss Peregrine's loop. She can turn into an avocet.
- Miss Finch - Very little is known about her. She can transform herself to a finch and has an aunt who stays in finch form.
- Olivia Owl - While training to control loops and other Ymbryne stuff, she had a accident and she got stuck in owl form. She was brought to Miss Wren but was beyond help. She has been an owl for 10 years.
- Franklin Portman - Franklin is Jacob's father, who is married to Maryann Portman. He always had a difficult relationship with his father and assumed he was having a long-term affair when he was gone from the house. He gets obsessed with one topic or another and starts writing books about them, but never finishes them. He is the only person to go with Jacob to Wales.
- Maryann Portman - Maryann is Jacob's mother and Franklin Portman's wife. She grew up in a rich family and still holds onto her materialistic ways. She is not a very loving mother, putting her socialite life ahead of comforting her son. However, she is still very protective of Jacob.
- Susan Portman - Susan is Jacob's beloved aunt. She gives him his grandfather's copy of Ralph Waldo Emerson's poems, which leads Jacob to his quest in Wales.
Miss Peregrine's spent 70 weeks on The New York Times Best Sellers list for children's chapter books. It reached the No. 1 spot on the list on April 29, 2012 after being on the list for 45 weeks. It remained there until 20 May, when it dropped to the fourth spot on the list. The book dropped off the list on September 9, 2012, after 63 weeks.
According to Deborah Netburn for the Los Angeles Times, the best part of the novel is "a series of black-and-white photos sprinkled throughout the book". Publishers Weekly called the book "an enjoyable, eccentric read distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters."
A sequel, titled Hollow City, was released on January 14, 2014. The novel is set right after the first, and sees Jacob and his friends fleeing from Miss Peregrine's to the "peculiar capital of the world", London.
A film adaptation of the book is set to be released in the United States on September 30, 2016. It is directed by Tim Burton from a screenplay by Jane Goldman. Eva Green was cast as Miss Peregrine in the film, along with Asa Butterfield as Jacob, and Ella Purnell as Emma Bloom.
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