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Time Loops And Tide Taming

Millard Nullings (with a little help from Ransom Riggs) shares a collection of folk stories with a peculiar twist in Tales of the Peculiar.

Time Loops And Tide Taming

BOOK REPORT for Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs

Cover Story: Flora and Fauna
The Best: “The First Ymbryne,” “The Woman Who Befriended Ghosts”
The Worst*: “The Pigeons of Saint Paul’s”
The Weird: “The Splendid Cannibals,” “The Locust”
Bonus Factors: Peculiar History, Morals of the Stories
Break Glass In Case Of: Looking for a New Fairy Tale

Cover Story: Flora and Fauna

This cover is super pretty—the gold parts are actually gold foil—and pretty dang perfect for a book full of fairy tales. And when you look close, particularly at the insect under the word Peculiar, it’s also pretty clear that this book is a bit, well, peculiar.

The Deal:

Compiled by Millard Nullings—the invisible boy from Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series—this collection of 10 stories gives a glimpse into the history and folklore of the peculiar world. As he writes in the foreword: “Passed down from generation to generation since time immemorial, each story is part history, part fairy tale, and part moral lesson aimed at young peculiars.”

The Best: “The First Ymbryne,” “The Woman Who Befriended Ghosts”

From the very moment I “met” Miss Peregrine in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, I was intrigued by the idea of ymbrynes and their special talent for creating time loops. “The First Ymbryne” tells the story of, well, the first ymbryne, Ymeene, and how she learned to both create loops and keep her people, the peculiars, safe inside them.

I dig a good “fish out of water who finds their place in the world” story, and many of the stories in Tales of the Peculiar are just that, considering that peculiars are sometimes, quite literally, fish out of water. “The Woman Who Befriended Ghosts” tells the story of a young woman who can see and talk to ghosts, and does so to the detriment of her relationships with living, breathing individuals. She struggles with feelings of not belonging, both with ghosts and people who are alive, and tries her hardest to fit in both worlds. It’s not until she realizes that she doesn’t have to force things that she finds happiness.

The Worst*: “The Pigeons of Saint Paul’s”

Apparently, the people of London and the pigeons that reside there have a long history of  antagonistic behavior, which climaxed with the building** of Saint Paul’s Cathedral … and the Great Fire of London.

*By worst, in this case, I just mean least interesting. It’s not terrible, but the rest of the stories in the collection are much more entertaining.

**I originally said “climaxed with the erection of,” but I started giggling like a 12-year-old boy and so decided to edit myself.

The Weird: “The Splendid Cannibals,” “The Locust”

I don’t know how you feel about cannibalism, but, personally, I find it a pretty abhorrent practice. But the cannibals in “The Splendid Cannibals” are pretty decent people, even if they get their sustenance from human flesh. They’re also very savvy businessmen and women, and definitely know how to work a situation for their benefit.

If you noticed the insect under the word Peculiar on the cover, you might have also noticed that it has a very un-insect-like head. The peculiar in “The Locust” discovers that the have the ability to turn into the creature they feel most connected with. Why they pull a The Metamorphsis, I won’t spoil, but the reason is a little bit heartbreaking. (The story is ultimately not so heartbreaking, thankfully.)

Bonus Factor: Peculiar History

The world Riggs created in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series is a rich one, filled with extraordinary characters and a huge amount of inferred backstory. The stories in Tales of the Peculiar fill in bits of that backstory while also expanding the world outside of the loop that belongs to Miss Peregrine and her children.

Bonus Factor: Morals of the Stories

Morality tales can often be, by nature, super preachy. Thankfully, Riggs’ tales more closely follow Aesop’s Fables in that they wrap the lesson in with the story and don’t hit readers over the head with the moral. (I mean, they’re pretty obvious. But never sanctimonious.)

Break Glass In Case Of: Looking for a New Fairy Tale

The tales in this book aren’t about faeries, but they still fit the mold. And as someone who loves fairy tales and fairy tale retellings, I’m always game to check out new versions of old tales—or, in the case of Tales of the Peculiar, totally new tales that put a spin on well-known themes. If you feel the same, or you’re a big fan of Riggs’ series, this collection is for you.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Dutton Books for Young Readers, and got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Tales of the Peculiar is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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