When I first saw the trailer for the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children movie coming out later this year, I wasn’t super interested until Miss Peregrine literally turned into a peregrine falcon. Falcons are one of my favorite birds! So I decided to seek out the books to find out what this series is all about before the movie comes out.
All in all, I was quite impressed with the books. If you’re trying to tell a story about British kids with magic powers that’s wildly different from Harry Potter, then this is the way to do it. Author Ransom Riggs not only found ingenious ways to incorporate the “peculiar” old photographs he found into the story (e.g., the photo of the floating girl on the cover inspired a character whose peculiar ability is to float), but he also used them to inspire a quite original take on how “magical” (called “peculiar” in this trilogy) folks can hide within plain sight in the world of “normals”: time loops. But while I loved the time loops, they allowed characters to essentially live forever, which could be a huge problem.
While I’m pleased with how things panned out for the main characters at the end of the trilogy with regards to time loops, I don’t think Riggs fully explored the insidious implications of the time loop mechanism he set up. Immortality is a dangerous thing, and while there are rules governing it in the series and those who try to get around the rules are punished, the system itself is never adequately questioned. This ends up undermining the trilogy’s otherwise brilliant worldbuilding.
Spoilers for the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children trilogy below!
Ransom Riggs’ New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is about Jacob Portman, who is not a happy teenager. He has no real friends, school is a bore, his parents are barely parents at all, and his future is both well-planned and depressing. The only interesting part of Jacob’s life is his grandfather, Abe Portman. Abe is a Polish Jew who fought in the later years of WWII. He speaks three languages, knows his way around more than a few weapons, and can tell a tall tale better than anyone.
His tales are mostly about the orphanage on an island in Wales where he was sent as a war refugee. He also keeps a cigar box full of whimsical photographs; one has an invisible boy, another has girl floating, another has a skinny teenager lifting a boulder over his head, and there are many others equally as strange. However, not everything is as sunny as it seems—after a horrific incident Jacob is forced to face his worst fears. Using the clues that his grandfather gave him in his tales and photos, Jacob must find out what made Abe run and who or what he was running from. Grandpa Abe has a secret, and Jacob is determined to find out the truth. However the truth may be just a bit… peculiar.