As peculiar as the book may sound, even containing said word within the title, the only thing that stands out as such is why this book has seemingly flown under the radar, at least in this illustrated format. This graphic novel, contained in a nice hardbound book with a well designed dust jacket that really jumps out at you from the shelf, was written by Roman Riggs and was based upon his novel of the same name. Illustrated simply, yet beautifully by Cassandra Jean with photographs from Riggs’ personal collection, it stands out as something wholly original and fresh.
The book starts out with Jacob hearing stories about his grandfather Abe’s adventures when he was just a young boy. As they were filled with wonder and excitement, Jacob naturally took them to heart. Some years later that sheen had worn off until the unthinkable happened and Abe was killed, apparently, by a monster. After passing on a message, Jacob starts off to discover what he can of his grandfather’s past life, to make sense of it for him, and to perhaps gain a measure of normality. When he finally learns the truth and meets the children at Miss Peregrine’s home, it only raises more questions than answers.
It is humorous that Riggs labelled the children as peculiar as they are some of the most normal children one could meet. It is true that each of them possesses a talent that elevates them from the average human, but it is their kindness and almost wide-eyed innocence that make them extraordinary. Miss Peregrine as well, is quite fascinating being able to transform herself into a bird and provides the novel with some interesting imagery because of it. The abilities of all, including Miss Peregrine, are nothing new but intriguing to see in the hands of the minors.
The book is set in present time, yet also concurrently set during the past, namely World War II. If there was a time period for Riggs to choose from, he could not have chosen better as some of the greatest stories ever written were set during that era. For whatever reason, tales that take place in that time frame from just before to just after World War II, seem to generate fodder for the mind. Conflict is always a necessary factor when creating a great story and there was no larger struggle in recent memory, no greater representation of good versus evil.
The art as previously stated is beautiful and having Cassandra Jean illustrate the book was a great idea. The colouring scheme was also very smart as it delineated Jacob’s old life in black and white, to his new one finally coming to life with bright primary colours and pastels. To also include the photographs the story was based upon, sprinkled throughout the book was a great touch as it gave the story credibility and a sense of realism, even though it was a work of fiction.
Whether you deign to read the novel or this graphic adaptation, you surely cannot go wrong. It has everything a great story could ask for. Adventure, intrigue, horror, drama, lost love, new love, and monsters, shape-shifting, time loops, World War II and wonder are only some of the things you will encounter in this tale by Ransom Riggs. The fact that he took some photographs and wrote a story around them was genius. There is a sequel to be released soon to which readers of this book are most surely anticipating.
4 out of 5