Book Review – Tales of the Peculiar

TITLE: Tales of the Peculiar
AUTHOR: Ransom Riggs
ILLUSTRATOR: Andrew Davidson
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHED: 2016

Tales of the Peculiar is a companion book to the author’s Miss Peregrine series.  It is a collection of ten short stories, each led with a woodcut illustration.

So I’m going to start right off the bat and say that this is not meant to be part of the story that Riggs does for his trilogy.  It’s meant to be other stories from the same world.  Basically, fairy tales for peculiars.  As such, it takes place long before the trilogy and features no photographs, which we’ve come to want from Riggs.  That doesn’t make it bad at all, just takes a minute to get out of that mindset.

 

Here’s an overview of the stories.  Warning that although I tried to not spoil anything, you never know what slipped through.

The Splendid Cannibals
Travelers with money and a village of peculiars with the ability to regenerate limbs.

The Fork-Tongue Princess
A princess already promised, but her secret will make her a monster.  What’s a peculiar to do?

The First Ymbryne
She didn’t know she was a peculiar until she accidentally managed a special power – the first time loop.

The Woman Who Befriended Ghosts
A woman who had only ghosts as friends moves to a haunted house to make friends.

Cocobolo
A chinese man who searches for his lost father on the open seas and finds a family secret.  They’re peculiar.

The Pigeons of St. Paul’s
Pigeons in London need a place to roost, so they talk in the ear of the best builder and make him build a cathedral.

The Girl Who Could Tame Nightmares
She used her powers to take away peoples nightmares, but was it a good idea?

The Locust
A weird boy with no friends befriends a bug and becomes one.

The Boy Who Could Hold Back the Sea
A boy with the power to hold back and control water currents shows his power and has to go into hiding.

The Tale of Cuthbert
Basically the origin story of Miss Wren’s Menagerie.  There are peculiar animals that need saving, a gentle giant willing to save them, only who will save him?

 

Okay, so I loved the story of the first loop.  The cannibals story was just silly, although one of the stronger ones in the book.  Really, you’re reading fairy tales for peculiars, so you’re going to get absurd stuff (even fairy tales for humans are absurd).  A few stories were weak, but that’s to be expected just by the nature of what everything was.

I loved the woodcuts, even though I was used to bizarre photos and expecting them – I wish they’d’ve found a way to throw in a couple (the area now, perhaps?) – but what was done totally worked for this type of a book so I’m not complaining.

In all, if you like the Peregrine books as I have (My review of book 1 is here) I think you should pick this up as well, so I’ll give it a 4/5 pages with a warning – if you weren’t into the Peregrine books, I don’t think you’ll like this one all that much.

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Book Review – Hollow City

TITLE: Hollow City
AUTHOR: Ransom Riggs
PUBLISHED: 2013
FORMAT: Hardcover

Hollow City is the second book in the series that started with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (which I reviewed a couple months ago.  You can also find a review of the companion non-fiction book on BitB).  I’ll warn you now that if you didn’t read the first one, you may want to skip this review because there might be some things that spoil that for you.

So, my mistake, but important to note, the book takes over where the first one left off pretty much, and since a little bit of time had passed, there were a couple things said that I didn’t remember.  It’s totally a pet peeve of mine that they don’t bother telling us anything that would tie one book in from the other, especially when quite a bit of time has passed and when the books are meant to stand alone.

Hollow City starts off with the kids escaping their bombed out island and Jacob and company with the injured Miss Peregrine, taking her to find a ymbryne while running from hollowgast and the like.  Don’t forget that its 1940, they’re trying to get to London (remember your history, that’s not going to go well), and they have all kinds of people after them and causing trouble including talking/peculiar animals and a band of gypsies.  Some of these creatures/people end up being friend not foe, but there’s trouble everywhere.

So, not a lot happens in this book, but the way that the story is told makes it a worthwhile payout.  And I did like how it ended.  There’s a lot going on for not a lot going on (if that makes sense) but like I said, it read quickly and I didn’t feel like I wasted time reading this book (unlike, say, Divergent #2 or HP #2, which were total wastes of time).  It sets up nicely for the third book, which Ransom is already working on.

There’s not a lot I can say without spoilers, unfortunately.  I will tell you that the book is still gorgeous and interesting and it amazes me how well he does at all of this.  In a cool twist, when I read this book, I also got a letter in the mail with a random found photograph in it, and I had just googled where the antique shops were to start a collection of my own.

So, I guess it won’t surprise you when I rate this highly.  Read the first one, but then get this one, too.  4/5 pages.

Book Review – Talking Pictures by Ransom Riggs

Talking Pictures

Ransom Riggs

Paperback

2012

 

Ransom Riggs, author of Miss Peregrine’s, shows us the love he has of old photographs (and that which led him to Miss Peregrines, I do say) and gives us a glimpse into his (and his friends’) personal collection of someone else’s photographs, found at antique stores and flea markets, marked with comments from the original owners.

Really, there’s not much to say about this book.  The pictures are old – some 100 years or more – and black and white or sepia, slightly blurry and/or out of focus, or just generally lack the sharpness that a more modern camera can provide.  Some of the comments are cute (there’s a whole section dedicated to people who hate the picture that was taken of them), others a bit melancholy (boys off to war, for instance), and others downright sad.  In fact, it was a downright sad that started his collection.  A photograph that he bought for a quarter with a caption on the back that named the girl and her fate.

Its as good a place to start as any.

In all, if you haven’t read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, I suggest you go read that first and then come back to this for a unique glimpse into an author.  But I think that if you don’t love that book already or aren’t as into old photos of strangers as Ransom is, that you won’t enjoy it nearly as much.

I’m going to give it a leery 4 out of 5 pages.  It’s worth a look, but if you’re not already into this, I don’t think this book will convert you.

Book Review – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Author: Ransom Riggs

Format: Hardcover

Published: 2011

 

Jacob Portman has a fairly quiet life – he works at a drugstore, which his family owns, has one friend, and a grandfather who he adores.  The grandfather has a thousand stories of the peculiar children he lived with when he was sent to Wales to escape WWII.

Everyone thought they were just stories, until the night his grandfather was attacked.  The night Jacob saw the hideous creatures in the woods.  The night that Grampa Portman tells him that he’s not safe, and to go to the island.

All he has to go by are the old stories.  And the cryptic message he tells Jacob as he dies – “Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man’s grave.  September third, 1940.”

A gajillion shrinks later, Jacob thinks he’s on the road to recovery, and he asks to go to the island.  He wants to know what his grandfather meant, even if it is all hooey.  More importantly, he wants to know who his grandfather was.

 

Now, I can relate to this book on a lot of levels.  My grandmother was my best friend, and now she’s dead.  As a writer, I often think about all the stories I’ll never know.  Even if I had written them down all the time, there’s no way to fit a lifetime of stories into a few chances to write them down.  So I totally get it that Jacob wanted to know – the stories he thought were just stories, well, they sorta came true when he saw his grandfather and the creature that did it.

He makes it to the island, and what he finds there is less than expected.  There’s one pub/bar/restaurant in town, and the only rooms available are upstairs.  Jacob takes one and his father, who leaves him alone to work on a birding book, the other.  There’s not much else.

He’s introduced to another kid on the island, who’s supposed to show him around but doesn’t want to take him to the orphanage where his grandfather lived, although he eventually gets to it.  The bombed out shell of a house that stands in testament to the events of 9-3-40 and all that happened there.  The only thing remaining that even hints anyone used to live there is a trunk full of old photos that somehow hasn’t turned to mold or dust in the past 60-ish years.

The peculiar children his grandfather always talked about.  Kids with talents akin to a Ringling Brother’s side show.

I can’t talk too much about what happens after that.  I really don’t want to ruin the story for anybody.  I think the thing that got me on this one is how different they are, but also how the same they are too.  Yes, the book talks extensively about these children, but the way they’re presented is awesome.

I don’t want to scare you off.  This isn’t a book about the circus; its not a book about freaks.  It’s about love and protection and the people that matter in your life.

Read the book.  It’s an incredible story, well told, and the characters are awesome.  And, seriously, consider buying the book.  I love the layout with the sepia dividers and grainy black and white photographs (true photographs!) throughout.  This is seriously a five star book.

When you finish, tell me what you think.  I can’t decide if I want a sequel or not.  On one hand, I will always want more, and it leaves you with several more stories to tell.  On the other hand, the book is magic, and I wouldn’t want anything that could spoil that.

Five out of Five pages for sure.

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