So, Ransom Riggs apparently wrote this book by stringing a bunch of really weird, old photographs together (the kind you see on Buzzfeed with haunting descriptions), and then making a story line out of them. And actually, I think he did a spectacular job. The plot works well, and the world he’s created is a lot of fun, while still keeping a dark, macabre, Tim Burton quality to it. And the photographs, rather than distracting from the story, keep the mood exactly where he wants it.
The story follows Jacob Portman, whose grandfather has told him stories all his life about the horrifying “monsters” who hunted him during World War II. Jacob was always under the obvious assumption that those monsters were Nazis—but after seeing a tentacle-faced monstrosity in the forest near his grandfather’s slashed-apart body, he starts to rethink that. And after Jacob decides to go to Wales and see his grandfather’s homeland to find closure, he stumbles upon a wormhole that takes him back in time to the school his grandfather grew up in: a school full of “peculiar” children.
And by “peculiar,” I mean, “levitating,” or “invisible,” or “literally chock-full of bees.”
This is a wonderful, imaginative book, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series. ♦