Tag Archives: fantasy

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

“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.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Young Adult fiction | 352 pages | Quirk Publishing | June 2011 | 1594744769 | Library copy

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The Magnificent 12: The Trap by Michael Grant

In the second volume of The Magnificent 12 series, Michael Grant once again takes us on a wild ride around the world. Mack, Stephen and Jarrah are on their way to China to pick up the next member of the 12, but of course they encounter everything from scary little men made of stinky blue cheese to dragons, to giant grasshoppers and just plain old giants. With the clock ticking down to the Pale Queen’s release, will Mack be able to find the rest of the 12 in time to save the world from impending doom?

I wasn’t as enamored with this second book. The humor that drew me into the The Call was over the top and contrived in The Trap. I also think that the numerous pop culture references will date this book too quickly. Overall, though, I’d still recommend this series to readers who like humor and adventure.

The Magnificent 12:  The Trap by Michael Grant
Juvenile fiction | 294 pages | August 2011 | Katherine Tegen Books | 0061833681 | Library copy

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to discover another world?  What sort of creatures you might find there or adventures you might have?  Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan do just that when they walk through the wardrobe and into Narnia, where animals and trees talk and you’re more likely to come across a satyr, dwarf, or centaur than a human being.  But all is not well in Narnia, which has been frozen in perpetual winter due the evil workings of the White Witch.  Can the foursome help stop the Witch’s reign of terror and restore order to Narnia or will a betrayal so deep tear them apart forever?


The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Juvenile fiction | 189 pages | June 2005 | Zondervan | 0060764899 | Library copy

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Juniper Berry by M.P. Kozlowsky (2011)

Juniper Berry’s parents have been acting very strange lately.  The days when they all used to make pizzas together or put on one of Juniper’s plays are just a memory that grows more and more distant each day.  It seems as though the more famous they become (her parents are movie stars), the less interest they have in Juniper. 

Without friends or her parents, Juniper spends one lonely day after another pacing her gargantuan mansion and its expansive grounds with her dog, Kitty.  One day, she meets a boy named Giles in the woods.  Another loner who is picked on at school, Giles confides in Juniper that his parents have also not been themselves recently.  The two team up to try to discover what is turning their parents into creepy, ghoulish remnants of their former selves. 

A spooky tree that leads to a secret, underground world leads Juniper and Giles to Skeksyl:

He was extremely tall, taller than any man Juniper had ever seen.  In fact, almost everything about him had length.  Each body part extended:  long legs, long arms, long neck, long fingers.  He was enveloped in a ratty hooded cloak, his elongated face concealed in shadow…He was a gangly creature, and would have seemed to the point of breaking if it were not for how he slithered about , his limbs like anacondas in their movement. (p. 103)

His all-knowing manner at once frightens and intrigues the children and the temptation to fall prey to his promises (much like their parents did) is strong.  Will Juniper and Giles be able to resist long enough to uncover the truth before it’s too late?

An attractive cover will definitely draw kids to this book and I think they will enjoy the fantasy/mystery thrown in, despite the fact that I was put off a bit by the slow pacing.  It reminded me of Coraline by Neil Gaiman, in that there is an alternate universe where you get what you think you want, only to discover it’s not what you wanted at all.

This is an ARC slated for release in April 2011.

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