Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children

Ransom Riggs

Enchanting. 

I found myself grasping at why I liked this series so much. I still cannot give you a quick, one-sentence answer. Instead, I will torture you or humour you with a bit of a stream of consciousness review. (Edited so as not to be as confusing and bumbling as my soc is in reality.)

There are moments of beautiful insight in this series that catch you by surprise. The more I write reflections after finishing novels and series, the clearer my preferences have become to myself. One thing I have learned will have singing praises is the presence of provoking sentences and thoughts in unexpected places. In the midst of an action/adventure, coming of age story in the eyes of a modern teenager is not exactly where you expect to find ruminations on life, relationships, and the nature of love. 

“To some it might’ve seemed callous, the way she boxed up her pain and set it aside, but I knew her well enough now to understand. She had a heart the size of France, and the lucky few whom she loved with it were loved with every square inch—but its size made it dangerous, too. If she let it feel everything, she’d be wrecked. So she had to tame it, shush it, shut it up. Float the worst pains off to an island that was quickly filling with them, where she would go to live one day.” –Library of Souls

This excerpt is just one insight. I clearly identify with this, or I would not post it, but there are more just as simply and beautifully put sprinkled throughout the series that make it more than your typical young adult novel.

The story line is original. Yes, it is good vs evil. Yes, it is a modernised coming of age tale. However, execution is everything. Riggs does a wonderful job telling an entertaining, action-packed, and sweet story. The use of antique manipulated pictures contributes to, not takes from, the authenticity of the tale. (Although there are one or two spots where it is a bit rocky because the author almost does an aside to describe an upcoming photograph.)  I rather enjoyed the conclusion of the story – it was reminiscent of Candide and The Alchemist.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Susanna Clarke

I am tempted to call this novel a historical fiction as well as a fantasy. Clarke writes about Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell as if this were a well-researched account of their lives. She does this with layers of stories: the over-arching story of English magic, the story of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and many, many footnote stories and small events throughout the book.

Yet, it is not dry. It is entertaining, poetic, witty, magical and believable – all at once. (Perhaps the magic is in its authenticity.) When I finished the book, I watched the show on Netflix. When I finished the show, I reread my favourite parts of the book. If my to-read list wasn’t already longer than my projected lifespan, I might have read the entire book again and again.

I look forward to more full-length tales from Susanne Clarke. I enjoyed being lost in her beautiful world.

-A Bookish Girl

The Bromeliad Trilogy

Terry Pratchett

Is there any surprise that I found myself in a Terry Pratchett novel (or rather trilogy)? I will save you, my generous reader, from my adoration of Terry Pratchett and attempt to write a review that is more than accolades for Pratchett and the blind that I always find when I read his novels.

This series is referred to as a children’s novel, but it is a children’s novel only in the sense that a child could read and enjoy the story. There is much more depth to this story than we have become accustomed to in the children section of the bookstore. This additional depth is what makes this such an important novel for a child to read. The nomes not only struggle to escape danger and survive but also grapple with religion and prejudices.

Essentially, Pratchett teaches you without lecturing you or losing you. He keeps you entertained, laughing, and pushes you to think. Labelling this a children’s book is unfair. This is a story for everyone. There is a lesson here for us all. Therein lies the beauty of a Pratchett novel.

I apologise, dear reader, I cannot help but to gush when I write about Pratchett.

-A Bookish Girl