Awhile ago a book caught my eye while we were “window” shopping at Target. Can it really be called window shopping if you’re not looking through a window?
Hollow City by Ransom Riggs. The cover was so odd. I thought for sure a book with a cover like that was bound to be interesting. My immediate thought was: ghosts! I love ghost stories. Growing up I fed my imagination on Scary Stories and More Scary Stories by . More on that in the next post.
However, when I went to check it out at the library, I discovered it was the 2nd book in a series. The 1st book’s cover wasn’t as interesting (I mean, how can you top a kid with a giant hole in her chest??) but upon closer inspection it was odd enough.
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very peculiar photographs. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that Miss Peregrine’s children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow – impossible though it seems – they may still be alive.
Ooo! How are they dangerous?? Why were they quarantined? Were they monsters?? I started reading and proceeded to spend over half the book wondering what the book was about. The questions posed in the beginning of the book were not being answered. Was it supposed to be a horror book? It wasn’t scary though there was some action in the beginning to whet my appetite.
It turns out the book’s description was misleading. Quite misleading. Considering it starts out with Jacob going over the stories his grandfather told him in the past and there was never any mention of danger and fear (except the danger he escaped – he was a Polish Jew living in Poland during WWII), I never got the impression that Miss Peregrine’s children were dangerous. It’s stated more than once that Jacob’s grandfather was happy there and that it was a safe place.
I was confused. It didn’t seem to be a horror story if the place is safe. So what kind of story is it?
Well, I’ll tell you now it’s not a horror story so you don’t go into wondering and wondering and wondering as I did. Despite that discrepancy, it was good. Riggs used vintage photos (a lot of them look pretty weird) to show certain things he describes in the story. But it’s not just a book with pictures in it where we’re merely seeing what’s being described – the characters are looking at photographs and we are given those photographs to see for ourselves.
Riggs has collected old black and white photos and seems to have created a story based on them. It was very interesting I thought.
I won’t tell you more because I don’t want to give away anything, but if you like vintage photos (many of them weird and some creepy), magic, and danger then you may give this one a try.
And next time someone claims to see something you can’t, maybe you’ll think twice about calling them crazy. They could just be peculiar.
Read any good books lately?