You can’t judge a book by its cover. Never has this saying been more true than in the case of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. With its creepy vintage photographs that look to be from some old horror film, and the description on the back cover which eludes to danger and tragedy, this did not seem to me to be a great read for children, much less myself, not being a fan of horror stories. But seeing it pop up on so many “must read” lists, and then having it placed in my hands by my sister, I figured I had to give it a try.
I was delightfully surprised. Miss Peregrine’s is not a horror story, but the story of a boy who grows up hearing his grandfather’s strange tales of the peculiar children he spent his childhood with, of a wondrous island and sprawling, comforting home for orphans. The stories also included monsters that haunted his grandfather after living through the horrors of World War II as a young Jewish boy.
After his grandfather’s tragic death, Jacob becomes haunted by his grandfather’s stories, no longer knowing what is true and what is just a tall tale. He and his father travel to the island where his grandfather’s stories took place, hoping to find that it is just an ordinary island with ordinary people, thus squelching Jacob’s fears.
On the island, Jacob discovers the orphanage and the children from his grandfather’s stories. He sets off on an adventure to discover the whole truth—about the orphanage, about his grandfather’s past, about the peculiar children…and the monsters.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a beautifully written story full of adventure, mystery, peculiarity and, yes, a bit of gruesomeness. But it is perfectly appropriate for children ages 8+, as long as they can get past the creepy photographs without them causing nightmares. The peculiar children are actually very sweet and helpful to Jacob; they simply were born with oddities that forced them to have to hide away from normal society. There are actual monsters that the children are hiding from as well.
Another note about appropriateness: In the beginning of the story, Jacob’s language is typical for a teenage boy (he is fifteen). His conversations with his best friend are full of crude comments and foul language (no F word). However, once he lands on the island and begins his adventure, his attitude and personality change, as well as his language.
I have given Miss Peregrine’s 4 stars due to the language and the misguiding cover. The story itself is a 5 Star!!
Miss Peregrine’s is the first book in a series. Hollow City, the second novel, is now available.