Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has a lot in common with one of those writing exercises where you take a picture and write a story about it. In this case, we have a novel based on a number of old photographs involving trick photography. The story spun from the photographs is one of temporal shenanigans, people with mysterious magical abilities and tentacle monsters.
Our Hero is a young man named Jacob who has spent most of his childhood hearing fantastical tales from his grandfather about the orphanage where he grew up. As he gets older he comes to realize that these stories were obviously untrue until a monster from one of his grandfather’s stories appears. (Of course, no one believes him, because monsters are not real.) This results in a lot of therapy for the young man and an eventual quest to discover the truth behind his grandfather’s stories. The truth of course is even stranger than his grandfather’s stories, and that the monsters are very real. (One thing that I liked was the way the stories are debunked, and then reintroduced as fact.)
This book has some interesting worldbuilding that may or may not hold up under closer scrutiny. The basic idea is that there are people with astounding abilities and variation in physiology. (Several of the children in the story have unusual physiology.) Due to various plot-centric reasons, these people now confine themselves to stable time loops. Unfortunately for them, one of the side effects of these time loops is that you do not age. (As a result, most of these time loops are inhabited by children overseen by a “peculiar” with the ability to create temporal loops.) The second side effect is that if you leave the time loop after too long inside of it, you will age rapidly and die. I had some trouble with the above set up because even if the “peculiar” talents are not entirely hereditary, it seems like keeping most of your entire population as children indefinitely would result in you not having a population after a while. (The author does address this concern as well as the psychological effects of being a child for an equivalent of decades, so that was a plus.)
This is an interesting book with an engaging main character. (I am not quite as happy with most of the other characters, particularly the one that turns out to be the main villain.) It’s a very quick read and I managed to finish it in a few hours. (It was one of those time warp books where you pick it up, and suddenly three hours have passed.) The action was a little rushed toward the end however, and the ending was wide open. (This was a very, very wide open ending. This was an open ending looking out over the world’s steepest cliffhanger.) I liked the book a great deal, and I’m hoping there will be a sequel.