‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel’
by Ransom Riggs and Cassandra Jean
Yen Press, 272 pp., $19.99
Out of odd photographs — a levitating girl crowned with a tiara; a bald, pint-size clown pulling a spiral of ribbon from his twin’s mouth; a phlegmatic man covered in bees — Ransom Riggs created the 2011 New York Times best-seller “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” Paired in this hardcover with artist Cassandra Jean’s illustrations, the story of teen Jacob Portman’s discoveries comes to visual life. There’s truth behind his murdered grandfather’s fantastic tale of childhood on an island sanctuary, safe from World War II Nazis, but Jacob can’t hide there indefinitely, as he learns while fleeing from tentacle-mouthed monsters and their even scarier blank-eyed pawns.
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Jean’s clean, sharp lines, augmented by moody shading and pastel washes of dreamlike color, highlight the story’s emotional power: the contrast between the fragile peculiarity of the sanctuary’s inhabitants and the threatening grimness of a world that seems bent on crushing them. Pictures are worth thousands of words. They take up lots of space on the page, though, in this instance crowding out minor aspects of the original version such as Jacob’s suspicions on first encountering Miss Peregrine’s charges.
The book ends with only a token resolution, as Jacob Portman and his new friends leave their imperfect refuge behind. Riggs has already written a sequel, “Hollow City,” due out in January. The graphic novel’s last few pages depict an excerpt in which villains in dirigibles hunt the children down. By the looks of it, the series will continue to be hauntingly beautiful.
Nisi Shawl reviews science fiction and fantasy for The Seattle Times.