Title: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Plot Type: Fantasy with a touch of horror
Ratings: Violence—3; Sensuality—2; Humor—3
Publisher: Quirk Books (6/2011) (Currently available in hardback, paperback, e-book, and audiobook CD)
Early in chapter 1, Abraham is savagely murdered by an unknown assailant—unknown to everyone, that is, but Jacob. When Jacob finds his grandfather's body in the woods, he also sees a monster peering out from the trees—the monster from Abraham's stories. As Abraham dies, he urgently whispers a few cryptic phrases to Jacob. From that point on, Jacob's life changes completely. No one believes his monster story, but he can't give it up and he has constant nightmares about that monster. This results in unending visits to a psychiatrist, ridicule from his peers, and disbelief and pity from his parents.
Riggs does a great job of setting up scenes with powerfully descriptive foreshadowing. The following paragraph put me in mind of the dramatic opening scene in David Lynch's classic film, Blue Velvet, where we watch a beautiful morning unfold in a white-picket-fence suburban neighborhood, with birds singing and flowers blooming—but then things begin to go terribly wrong (Click HERE to go to a YouTube video of that scene.) Both the print and film scenes ratchet up the suspense when they drop a macabre note into a picture-perfect, Mother-Nature moment: "It was an almost-too-perfect morning. Leaving the pub felt like stepping into one of those heavily retouched photos that come loaded as wallpaper on new computers: streets of artfully decrepit cottages stretched into the distance, giving way to green fields sewn together by meandering rock walls, the whole scene topped by scudding white clouds. But beyond all that, above the houses and fields and sheep doddering around like little puffs of cotton candy, I could see tongues of dense fog licking over the ridge in the distance, where this world ended and the next one began, cold, damp, and sunless." (p. 101)
Click HERE to go to an article about the German bombing of Wales during World War II. Click HERE to go to an article explaining the Kindertransport, a program that facilitated the transport of European, mostly Jewish, children to safety in Great Britain just prior to the outbreak of World War II. Click HERE to go to a history of the Holocaust in Poland. Click HERE to go to a history of the Jews in Poland.
Click HERE to to go to a Quirk Books web page that contains links to PDF downloads of the first three chapters of the book. Click HERE to view Riggs' excellent book trailer on YouTube. Click HERE to watch a fascinating YouTube video Riggs took while he was putting together the book trailer. It is entitled A Most Peculiar Trip: Searching for Miss Peregrine. Click HERE to read a fascinating NY Times interview in which Riggs explains how a collection of vintage snapshots morphed into his first novel.
The movie rights have been sold to 20th Century Fox, and Tim Burton is slated to direct (projected release date—7/31/15).
Below are thee of the vintage photographs Riggs has woven into the story. Click HERE to view a pdf file with full-page shots of all of the photographs in this book.