I absolutely loved this book!!
As Jacob Portman is growing up, his grandfather, Abraham, tells him stories; stories about a magical place on an island off the coast of Wales, where he allegedly grew up as a refugee from WWII. The house where he lived was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
As time goes by, and Jacob becomes a teen, he begins to lose faith in the truthfulness of these stories. He is especially discouraged from believing them by his parents.
But one day, he gets a frantic call from his grandfather. As he and his friend drive to his grandfather’s house, they find the place completely torn apart, as if it had been ransacked. They find a trail, out the back door, into the woods. The follow the sounds that they hear, culminating in a scream. Eventually, they find his grandfather, bleeding and dying. When Jacob follows the noises he hears, he sees something unimaginable, something monstrous. The thing runs away. Abe dies.
Jacob is later inclined to believe the eventual police report that his grandfather was killed by wild dogs. But then he finds a letter, supposedly written to his grandfather by Miss Peregrine. It was postmarked from Cairnholm Island. But it was only fifteen years old. Abe had been at the home in 1939-1940. That would put Miss Peregrine in her nineties.
Dr. Golan, his psychiatrist, convinces Jacob’s parents to let him take a trip to Wales, and to this island, and when Jacob’s father finds out that the area is replete with bird wildlife (his dad is an aspiring ornithologist), he readily agrees to take him.
They book a room at the only pub on the island. On Jacob’s first trip to the old home, all he finds is a partially demolished shell of a building, with rooms containing old stuff that probably belonged to the children. He does find what he believes to be his grandfather’s room. But that’s all he finds. Nothing magical. Nothing mysterious.
He is not satisfied, however, and makes a return trip, inspired by a visit to his bedroom by a peregrine hawk! He finds an old trunk that turns out to be filled with photographs similar to the ones that his grandfather showed him. One thing I like about this book is that it includes this photographs, which are authentic photos found by the author at places like flea markets. Only a few of them have been retouched for the purposes of the book.
It is at this point that Jacob finally encounters some of the “peculiar children.” From this point on, the book takes a fantastic turn that is, indeed, magical and mysterious. Miss Peregrine and the children are in a manufactured time loop, so that they are always on, I believe, September 3, 1940. There are monsters that are after them, though, and one of these was what killed Jacob’s grandfather.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and am anxious to read the second book in the series. As for the movie, I saw it first, and enjoyed it, but they added so much that wasn’t in the book. For example that whole bit about the amusement park was nowhere in the book. The book, in my opinion, is infinitely better than the movie.
A truly fantastic read!