Have you ever felt haunted by a book that wanted you to read it, no matter what? The wonderfully-titled Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children followed me around for a couple of weeks, then appeared in my house under suspicious circumstances. Which is to say, it was recommended to me on various websites, by word of mouth, and I saw it reviewed all over the place. But I resisted, and wasn’t sure that I really wanted or needed to read it. I wish I could remember what finally convinced me to pick it up, or where or when I finally bought it. All I can say for sure, however, is that it made its way into my home, at the very top of my TBR, and I’m grateful that it did.
This book takes a series of odd (or let’s say “peculiar”) vintage photographs and builds a narrative around them. The concept works so well that it becomes entirely plausible to consider the pictures as proof of the story, instead of merely a jumping off point for spinning this yarn. In truth, I would have been fascinated by the book if it was just a collection of strange and creepy photographs with whatever limited information about their origin was available. (The photos all come from personal collections, mostly cultivated through flea markets and other somewhat anonymous sources, so there is probably very little solid information available on any of them.) In some cases you can guess at the techniques used to create an image of an invisible boy, or a girl trapped in a jar, or a young man lifting a large boulder with one hand. Though I still found it impressive in an age when “dodge and burn” was not achieved by a mouse click in Photoshop. Other of the photos are not as easy to explain away, and I spent more time than I care to admit just staring at them in amazement.