A black and white image of a little girl hovering over the ground in a forest

About the Book

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #1)
Published: 2011

Cover Story: Flaunt It
BFF Charm: Yay!
Talky Talk: Straight Up With a Vintage Twist
Bonus Factors: Old Found Photos, The Priest Hole
Relationship Status: Antiquing Buddies

Cover Story: Flaunt It

Now THAT’s what I’m talking about!!! This cover is a great promo for the magically creepy insides of the book, with none of the stereotypical YA crap we usually deal with. In discussing covers, we often talk about how we’d feel with this book on a train, which is weird because I never ride trains, but I actually DID read this book on a train last weekend from NYC to DC and y’all I totally left it out on purpose, hoping someone would see it and be all, “Dang, look at that book! That girl is totally mysterious and alluring.”

The Deal:

If you were lucky enough to grow up around your grandparents, you probably heard them tell you lots of stories about where they came from and about how growing up was so much harder in the old days cos people had to, like, walk to school instead of riding a school bus, which obvs means that grandparents don’t know shizz cos school buses are RIFE with terrifying and heinous situations and I would have MUCH rather walked than sit next to that asshole Andrew who took great pleasure in snapping my bra straps and making fun of me for reading. The point is, we’ve all grown up hearing stories, but I highly doubt any of us were privy to the stories that Jacob’s grandfather told him. Tales about escaping from terrifying monsters and hiding out in an idyllic old mansion with orphans who possessed some rather extraordinary qualities. As Jacob grew older, he came to the realization that his grandfather’s stories were metaphors for his experience as a Polish boy escaping from the Nazis, and he cast aside his beliefs in magical creatures. That is, until he found his grandfather dead, attacked by some kind of beast that only Jacob could see.

After enduring months of therapy, Jacob decides that the only cure for his delusions and paranoia is to visit the island off the coast of Wales where his grandfather once lived. With his dad in tow, Jacob discovers that the orphanage is now a decaying, forgotten relic, bombed to bits during World War II. And yet, for reasons that defy reality, it looks like the orphans never left…

BFF Charm: Yay!

Yay BFF Charm

I don’t mean to sound like my mom, but Jacob is such a good kid! He’s smart and thoughtful and sweet with just enough dick attitude to make him feel like a real teenager. While he’s not as interesting as the “peculiar children,” he’s the type of hero that I find v. easy to root for, because he’s kind of a pussy, just like me! And yet he forces himself to face his fears, time and time again, and for that, I admire him. I would definitely enjoy hanging out with Jacob, although I wouldn’t, you know, follow him into that scary dark basement, because THAT IS NEVER A GOOD IDEA. But hey, I would definitely stand outside to, like, be the look out and stuff.

Swoonworthy Scale: -1

This is going to be hard to explain without giving a little bit away, so if you want like zero spoilers, skip to the next section. But if you don’t mind a bit of a spoiler, keep reading. Ok? Made up your mind? Good.

So, through a series of events that I will let the book describe in much better form, Jacob meets Emma, a girl who can create fire with her hands and therefore perform the greatest party tricks EVER. As you might expect from someone who generates sparks, Emma is a total dynamo, and Jacob starts to fall for her. But then, through another series of events that I will most definitely leave to the book because otherwise you will get totes confused and stop reading to have a drink and I WANT A DRINK TOO so let’s just both wait til we get to the end, shall we– Jacob discovers that Emma was in love with his grandfather, back in the 1940s. So basically, he wants to date his grandfather’s girlfriend, and she wants to get with him because he reminds her of his grandfather. And no matter how great the story is, I CANNOT find that to be anything other than icky. I just can’t. I’m sorry. DON’T BURN ME, EMMA.

Talky Talk: Straight Up With a Vintage Twist

Jacob’s contemporary voice combined with characters from the past creates a charming, antique-y tone that reminded me a bit of The Chronicles of Narnia. While I occasionally wished for a little more teenage ‘tude from Jacob, I enjoyed seeing the magic unfold through his eyes. The otherworldly quality of the story matched with the photographs (more on that below) plunged me into an old fashioned adventure, with compelling yet measured pacing. And there were a few moments towards the end that almost led me to start developing a serious nail-biting habit, which was only prevented by the fact that I really like the polish I’m wearing.

Bonus Factor: Old Found Photos

Two creepy old timey children in clown outfits, one holds a string attached to the other

Ok, you guys, this bonus factor makes the book SO FUN TO READ. Ransom Riggs (what is that, a YA name?) combed through archives of old found photos to help create his story, and each time Jacob sees one, we get to see it too! They’re fascinating and creepy, and they make the novel that much more haunting.

Bonus Factor: The Priest Hole

A pint glass on a bar countertop

When Jacob and his dad arrive on the tiny island of Cairnholm, there’s only one place to eat, drink and stay the night. And that wonderful, grimy, craptastic establishment is Priest Hole, a pub full of old, raucous alcoholics. In other words, it’s the ultimate dive bar, and I WANT TO GO TO THERE.

Relationship Status: Antiquing Buddies

I love spending a Saturday poking around antique shops, looking for treasures amidst the curios and the crap. There’s something so fascinating about looking at artifacts from other people’s lives, water-damaged pictures and postcards with fading scrawl. And this book totally gets that. Instead of lecturing me about the fact that I really don’t need to be buying another dance card because seriously, don’t I have like a dozen at home, this novel is right next to me, elbow deep in nostalgia, spurring me on. We both love speculating on the enigma of a peeling portrait’s smile or imagining the extraordinary contained in ordinary objects. We may not deeply connect on anything else, but I love escaping with it into the past, where everything feels just a bit more magical.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my copy of the book from Quirk Books. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is available now.

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.