MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR SPECIAL CHILDREN (Ransom Riggs)
This book attracted me, first of all for the photos, then for the plot that struck my imagination, for this reason, despite not particularly fond of fantasy, I convinced myself to buy it.
The photos contained here, in truth, are also a bit disturbing like, for example, that little girl who levitates on the cover. And that 30s hairstyle, that crown, don’t they look creepy too? Inside, however, the book is truly unique and very attractive. I’ll immediately explain why.
After the cover, with the photo of the flying girl, the book will present itself with an absolutely captivating graphic design, as singular pages will begin to pass under your eyes with a fantasy similar to that of the wallpapers of the 30s, then the suggestive photo – on a totally black background – of a girl whose face is illuminated by a light coming from the palm of her own hands, just as if she were holding a torch …
The wallpaper then continues by coloring itself with a delicate brownish color, at the center of the facade of which is written “Prologue”, then some pages in which the protagonist tells the background and another disturbing photo: the “body” of a boy dressed , but… without a head or hands followed by the same levitating child on the cover, a boy who holds up, with one hand, a huge boulder, etc.
Is this enough to get your attention?
NOTES OF PLOT
Jacob is a bored, well-off 15-year-old American, with a weird grandfather who tells him weird things about his childhood, and the typical parents of the well-to-do American middle class.
Jacob, in estate, works, so to speak, in one of the stores whose chain belongs to his mother’s family, Smart Aid, in Englewood, a sleepy seaside town in Florida. He is lazy, bored with routine and flat on himself. He has few friends, but the biggest, most reliable and charming of all is his grandfather Abrhaham, known as Abe.
One fine day, Grandpa Abe calls the shop to be told where the key was hidden … which key? The one to open a warehouse of weapons of all kinds, a real arsenal for capricious collectors. He knows why, but his son, that is Jacob’s father, who never believed him, kidnapped her, seriously doubting his mental clarity.
Therefore, the boy pretends that he does not know where he is, then calls the parent to warn that the grandfather was in the throes of a paranoid crisis, that he was talking about monsters, that they were coming to kill him, and that he, Jacob, absolutely did not have to go. there at his home, because he would have easily found death himself.
The most appropriate solution, to Jacob’s parents, therefore does not seem to be other than to put his grandfather in a hospice, just to get rid of the ‘problem’ …
The grandfather was a war veteran, but he didn’t seem to have lost his mental clarity at all, despite his 80 years, and the stories he told to Jacob, were unlikely, but they were proven by concrete photos!
Grandfather Abe was born in Poland and was left without parents due to his Jewishness. If he had saved himself from Nazi persecution, it was only because, at the age of 12, he had been sent to an orphanage on a small island off Wales. The monsters could therefore only have been the Nazis who had invaded Poland and captured all the Jews living there. But his grandfather claimed, instead, that the monsters were not the German soldiers: those he was referring to had hunchbacks, wrinkled skin and black eyes. And their gait was very similar to that of the zombies in the old movies. Plus, they smelled like sewage and had slimy tentacles protruding from their mouths, which they spat out to suck some creature into their slimy fangs. << You could only see the shadow of them >> (page 10). But the grandfather, he knew how to fight and defeat them properly!
The child about these tales, as disturbing as they were, liked to fantasize and be fascinated, but in the end, logic had the upper hand and Jacob realized that they could not be true. Just like those even less credible about the orphanage and its guests.
The grandfather described it as an enchanted place, << designed to keep children safe, on an island where the sun shone every day and no one ever got sick or died. They all lived together in a large house, protected by a wise old bird ... >> (page 10).
They were protected – said Abe – because the guests of that big house were not like the others: they were Special! Special because a little girl, for example, knew how to fly; a little boy had a swarm of bees in his belly; a couple, brother and sister, were able to lift enormous weights over their heads; and one was even… invisible!
I will stop here with the narration of other details in order not to incur the fatal wrath of those who see the expectations they have on a possible new reading ruined.
Fascinating, isn’t it? Have I intrigued you? I hope so. However, you will be even more thrilled when you see the photos inserted throughout the book: photos from the 1930s, if not older, in black and white with the strangest depictions! All strictly authentic, which Ransom Riggs, the novel’s author, borrowed from some collectors to set up and define the story of his book.
He himself a collector, at the end of the story, thanks the 10 heroic collectors, who saved exceptional and valuable photographs from the trash, patiently searching in the big bins full of old photos at flea markets and antique shops.
MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR SPECIAL CHILDREN it is undoubtedly a very unique book, not only for the story told, but above all for the exceptionality and originality of the proposed project: that of basing the plot of a novel on photos found and about which absolutely nothing is known. And fantasy Ransom Riggs has shown that he has a lot to sell, if he graduated from Kenyon College and the School of Film and Television of the University of Southern California and is the author of short films also visible on the net, as well as a blogger, travel writer and collector of photographs of epoch.
A multifaceted character, therefore, this Riggs, who has been able to give us an exciting story from the first to the last page and has become a saga now in its fifth volume, which, despite myself, I have not yet had a way to read.
But it is also true that, despite its numerous strengths, the novel also contains flaws.
The first is that of having let go of the hand, towards the end, where there is almost nothing but a fight to the death; the other is that of having transformed (the story) – always towards the end – into a story almost exclusively for teenagers, after having kept the reader in suspense for almost its entire duration. And, in the end, this is a major flaw.
The writing style, however, is good and smooth and, at the beginning, also exciting because it tells the story in the first person, so much so that it almost seems like a true story, due to the way in which the narration is participated. In fact, Fox immediately grabbed the rights for the film adaptation (launched in 2016), directed by Tim Barton, a version of which I am still curiously waiting to see the success or not.
In short, to conclude, I advise everyone to read this book not only to read, but also for the sole pleasure of leafing through something beautiful.
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