“Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man’s grave. September third, 1940.” I nodded, but he couldn’t see that I didn’t understand. With his last bit of strength, he added, “Emerson – the letter. Tell them what happened, Yakob.” (p. 33)
Jacob Portman believed he was destined to live an incredibly ordinary life. But then his grandfather is tragically killed, spewing the above disjointed jibberish as he lay dying in Jacob’s arms. Could this cryptic message have anything to do with the strange photographs his grandfather used to show him when Jacob was younger about the magical children’s home he lived in on a small island off the coast of Wales? Jacob had long ago dismissed his grandfather’s stories as rubbish, but now he’s not so sure. In order to make sense of everything that’s happened, Jacob and his father travel to Wales. Cairnholm is shrouded in fog and mystery, but Jacob is determined to honor his grandfather’s last request and find out the truth about Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Riggs’s debut novel is unique in that he blends Jacob’s story with some fantasically creepy photographs borrowed from collectors around the country (including himself). Unfortunately, I felt some of the fantasy elements of the story could have been explained better and that, at times, the story was written to complement the pictures and not the other way around. Readers who are looking to be thoroughly creeped-out may be disappointed as the story is not nearly as scary as I thought it would be. Overall, though, I was impressed with the writing and was intrigued enough to read it all the way through. The ending seemed like it might lend itself to a sequel, though I probably wouldn’t be interested in reading it.