by Ransom Riggs
The weird vintage photographs on the book cover drew me in. They are compellingly weird: whole-head masks and a coiled tube; a sad, jacketed boy in a bunny costume, and an eerily doubled reflection among others. If you don’t think these photos sound interesting, you can safely skip this book and the rest of this post. If you do think it sounds interesting, you’re probably wondering if it is as good as it seems.
The story is good — there are more strange photographs, and secrets, and special abilities. If this sounds at all familiar, it must be because you’ve read some of the most popular young adult titles ever: not just Harry Potter, but Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, too. And it appears it will be the first in a series, as a bidding war for the movie rights resulted in the announcement of a sequel. (I believe the book is nearly always better, though if Riggs gets his wish and Tilda Swinton plays Miss Peregrine, I will definitely go see it in the theater.)
So it is a good story. I want to say the book is great, but the writing falls a bit short of the magic I’d want to feel to say it was great. (By way of comparison, I thought Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making had that magic.) If you want a good story, are intrigued by monsters, or are curious to see how a writer weaves a story from found artifacts (the photographs are all real vintage images) you’d probably like this.