Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children {Reading Recap}

it's just that good!

And perfect if you've always thought about wanting to read the book but never got around to it...enjoy this summary :)

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
is definitely a 'different' kind of book...
Yes, the little girl in the picture is levitating! 
This is a tale about Jacob Portman, outcast extraordinaire.  Growing up, his grandfather, Abraham (Abe) Portman, told him story upon story about his life: living in an orphanage, fighting in war, crossing oceans and deserts, performing in circuses, and knowing everything about how to survive.  He was fascinating.  The most fascinating, though, were Abe's stories about life in the Welsh children's home.  This place was enchanted and designed t o keep kids safe from monsters, on an island where the sun always shined and no one ever got sick or died.  What a life!  When Jacob asked his grandfather why he had to leave his parents in Poland, Abe would alwasy respond the same: because the monsters were after him.  What kind of monsters, you ask?  Why, these monsters were awful hunched-over ones with rotting skin and black eyes, had three tongues, and smelled of putrefying trash!  How awful.  But the kids weren't like other kids - they were peculiar!  Jacob would probe further, asking about the children...
"There was a girl who could fly, a boy who had bees living inside him, a brother and sister who could life boulders over their heads."
Abe could tell Jacob didn't fully believe the children were real, so he showd him pictures!  Four wrinkled and yellowing snapshots:
1-a blurry picture of what looked like a suit of clothes with no person in them, or a person with no head.  But, in fact, he was invisible.  Millard was his name.
2-a little girl wearing a crown; her feet weren't touching the ground.  She was levitating
3-a scrawny boy lifting a boulder.  He was STRONG.
4-the back of somebody's head, with a face painted on it. He had two mouths, one in the front and one in the back. 
As Jacob grew older, however, he began to question these stories.  They just couldn't be true!  He was picked on at school for repeating the tales to his classmates.  Abe stopped telling stories about his past, and he was known to be 'crazy' by his family. 
Then one day, Jacob received a phone call at work - it was his grandfather demanding to know where the key to his gun chest was.  He had to get the key!  Used to this behavior, Jacob told his grandfather to calm down and told him that he was safe.  He reassured him that the monsters weren't coming for him.  Abe's son, Jacob's father, was ready to put Abe in a home.  It was the same old ways with crazy Abe.  But, Jacob wouldn't hear of it.  He left work and headed to his grandfather's house to check on him. 
Jacob ran from room to room calling out his grandfather's name.  But nothing.  No reply.  No sounds.  Just empty.  Behind Grandpa Portman's house was the backyard, which led up to the Florida woods.  Jacob knew that's where his grandfather had to be, so searched he did.  What he found was his worst nightmare.  His grandfather lay facedown in a bed of bud, his legs sprawled out and one arm twisted beneath him as if he'd fallen from a great height.  His undershirt was soaked with blood, his pants were torn, and one shoe was missing.  He didn't move.  Jacob could hear him breathing ever so shallowly - he knew he had to move him.  But just then, Abe began to speak: 'Go to the island, Yakob.  Here it's not safe.'  Jacob knew it was the old paranoia.  But Abe's last words were:
"Find the bird.  In the loop.  On the other side of the old man's grave.  Septemeber 3, 1940.  Emerson - the letter.  Tell them what happened Yakob." 
Jacob knew what had done that to his grandfather was still in the woods.  He took his flashlight and aimed it - and for an instant, he saw a face that seemed to have been transplanted directly from his nighmares of his childhood.  It stared back with eyes that swam in dark liquid, furrowed trenches of carbon-black flesh loose on its hunched frame, its mouth hinged open grotesquely so that a mass of long eel-like tongues could wriggle out.  His friend that was with him didn't see anything, and from that moment on, Jacob was also thought of to be crazy.  His parents treated him like a breakable heirloom, afraid to fight or fret in front of him or he would shatter.  He was plagued by nighmares so bad he had to wear a mouth guard to keep from grinding his teeth into nubs as he slept.  He couldn't close his eyes without seeing the tentacle-mouth horror in the woods.  He wa sconvinced it killed his grandfather.  He was sure it was lurking everywhere: dark trees, beyond the next car in a parking lot, behind the garage by his bike - it was waiting. 
Jacob did everything in his power to try to figure out exactly what his grandfather's last words meant, but to no avail.  He agreed to see a shrink, Dr. Golan, to help him sort through his grief, anger, and confusion.  He was just about to give up when he received a book for his birthday - it was a book by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and it used to belong to his grandfather.  It was found in his home after he died.  And, in side the book was a letter - written by Ms. Alma Peregrine.  The postmark on the letter read: Cairnholm Is., Cymru, UK.  From that moment, Jacob knew he had to go to Cairnholm island - he knew it held secrets of his grandfather's past.  His shrink agreed that a trip to the island would help Jacob find closure, even if he came up empty-handed.  So, it was settled.  Jacob would go to Cairnholm Island, a tiny island off the coast of Wales, with his father for a few weeks in the summer. 
The island was lacking modernization, to say the least.  There was only one phone on the entire island, and only one set of rooms to rent to stay.  They didn't get many visitors.  Jacob set out to find the old house his grandfather told him about, and his dad set off to study the birds of the island.  Jacob found the house, and to his dismay, knew that Miss Peregrine, the headmistress that wrote his uncle the letter, was no longer alive.  He was determined for answers, so he searched the house.  The house looked evil and had been torn apart by bombs from World War II.  He found a giant crate in one of the bedrooms upstairs and tried everything to open it.  Finally, he thought to push it over the staircase and pray that it would break open from the fall.  It did break open, but it went straight through the first level and into the basement.  Crap!  Jacob tried to stay away from the dark, putried basement, but now he had no choice.  He crept down into the pitch blackness.  That's when he found the contents of his crate scattered about the wood of the crate.  Then, the children appeared.  The little girl ran, and Jacob ran after her, trying to convince her that he wouldn't hurt her - she eventually captured him and kept him as her 'slave'.  Then, Jacob met Millard, who was invisible.  Jacob wasn't sure if he was dreaming or if he was really encountering the children his grandfather spoke about so often long ago. 
They entered 'the old man's grave', which was stone tunnel next to the bog in Cairnholm, and came out to sunny skies and horse-drawn buggies.  No loud generators.  No cars.  Jacob knew something strange had happened.  But then, the little girl, who later reveals herself as Emma, and Millard took Jacob to the house.  Only this time, the house was beautiful and enchanting.  Jacob could not get over how it looked so different, and much like how his grandfather described it for all those years.  He was introduced to Miss Peregrine, who instantly knew who Jacob was.  The others weren't so sure.  But Miss Peregrine assured the children that he was, in fact, Abraham Portman's grandson.  Then, the explanations began. 
Miss Peregrine explained that Abraham Portman did live with them (Miss Peregrine and the children) in the big house on the island.  He chose to leave them to fight in the war during that time, and then he lived in America to raise his family.  Miss Peregrine also explained that her, the children, and Jacob's grandfather were 'peculiars'.  She explained that the taxonomy of Homo sapiens is a simple dichotomy: there are the coerlfolc, the teeming mass of common people who make up humanity's great bulk, and there is the hidden branch - the crypto-sapiens who are called syndrigast, or 'peculiar spirit'.  The remaining peculiars live in hiding, all over the world.  There was a time when the peculiars could mix openly with common folk, but they were slowly forced into hiding.  Peculiar traits often skip a generation, or ten.  Peculiar children are not always, or even usually, born to peculiar parents, and peculiar parents do not always, or even usually, bear peculiar children.  Jacob learned that Miss Peregrine could manipulate time.  She explained that she created a loop (time loops had been created for quite some time, and there were several created by peculiars like her throughout the world) which replayed the same day, September 3, 1940, over and over and over again.  However, the peculiars in the time loop remembered their experiences and what happened from day to day, only the commons did not. 
 Jacob found out that Emma was in love with her grandfather, and she was heartbroken when Abe decided to fight in the war - and ultimately never came back for her as he had promised.  He also learned that by remaining in a time loop, peculiars didn't physically or mentally age.  However, if they spent hours and hours outside of the loop, time would catch up with them and they would begin to age quickly to catch up to their actual age.  So, the children appeared to be quite young, mostly Jacob's age (teenagers), but they were really between 80 and 100 years old! 
Jacob loved learning about the children and hanging out with them - he found them to be highly entertaining and loved going back to September 2, 1940 every morning when he awoke in the present day.  He continued to travel back and forth, in and out of the loop.  Emma was a fireball and could create fire from her hands, Millard was invisible, Claire had a mouth in the back of her heard, Enoch could raise the dead, Bronwyn was the strong girl.
Miss Peregrine had company from another time manipulator, of which she stated her children had been destroyed, and she flew to Miss Peregrine to warn her.  This is when Jacob learned that many peculiars attempted an experiment to turn themselves into demi-gods, ultimately resulting in the experiment turning them all into hollowgast - rather than becoming gods, they transformed themselves into devils, with no heart or soul.  In a cruel twist of irony, they achieved the immortality they had been seeking.  It's believed that the hollows can live thousands of years, but it is a life of constant physical torment, of humiliating debasement - feeding on stray animals, living in isolation - and of insatiable hunger for the flesh of their former kin, because peculiar blood is their only hope for salvation.  If a hollow gorges itself on enough peculiars, it becomes a wight.  It is also important that hollows cannot enter a loop, but wights can.  If being a hollow is a living hell - and it most certainly is - then being a wight is akin to purgatory.  Wights are almost common - they have no peculiar abilities.  But becasue they can pass for human, they live in servitude to their hollow brethren, acting as scouts and spies and procurers of flesh - it's a hierarchy of the damned that aims someday to turn all hollows into wights and all peculiars into corpses.  Hollows also retain no memory of their former lives, which helps peculiars hide in their loops.  Wights also lack pupils - creepy! 
Things began to click for Jacob as he put two and two together and learned that his grandfather was a peculiar - his ability was that he could see the hollows, as most peculiars could not.  Then, Jacob realized that a hollow is what he saw the night his grandfather was murdered.  And the reason everyone thought he was crazy?  Because they were common folk, and Jacob was a peculiar that saw a hollow. 
Miss Peregrine used Jacob going back and forth between her time loop and the present day to stay updated on any new visitors to the island.  But then it hit him - his dad studied birds (he was an ornithologist), and told Jacob that another ornithologist had come to the island as well and was encroaching his territory.  Jacob relayed the information on the newcomer to Miss Peregrine.  The house went on lockdown, just to be safe if the bird watcher was in fact a wight. 
Then, a few days later, Martin, the museum keeper in present-day town, had gone missing.  He failed to open his museum or stop by the bar for his customary nightcap.  When the bar owner's wife went in search of him at his home, she found his front door hanging open and his wallet and glasses on the kitchen table, but no one was home.  Finally, a few days later, a call came in that Martin's body had been fished out of the ocean.  He had been murdered and was only in his robe and boxer shorts, very unlike Martin to be out and about in the dead of night dressed like that.  Jacob informed Miss Peregrine what happened, and she put the children's home on further lockdown - no one was to go outside of the walls, including Jacob.  It was for their own safety.  However, Jacob, Emma, Bronwyn, and Enoch agreed that they needed to see Martin's body, which had been stored in the fisherman's ice house while a terrible storm ravaged the island, to ascertain whether or not it was a hollow that attacked him.  They ventured away from the house unnoticed, with the help of the other children, and were off.  What they learned was that Martin was in fact attacked by a hollow, only after a wight had come to his door in the middle of the night.  The wight that was right behind them in the ice house.  
The children were very frightened as the wight began to speak.  He knew exactly who each child was and how they had come to the children's home: Emma Bloom, a spark, was abandoned at a circus when her parents couldn't sell her to one; Bronwyn Bruntley, berserker, taster of blood, didn't know her own strength until the night she snapped her rotten stepfather's neck; Enoch O'Connor, dead-riser, born to a family of undertakers who couldn't understand why their clients kept walking away.  And Jacob. 
Jacob soon realized that the wight was doing a fine impression of his middle school bus driver, Mr. Barron.  Then, the man's accent changed, and Jacob realized it was his family's lawn and pool man for years.  When Jacob asked how the wight knew where to find him, he answered, "Why, Jacob, you told me yourself.  In confidence, of course."   - Dr. Golan - Jacob's psychiatrist whom he had told EVERYTHING about his grandfather and the stories.  He knew exactly where Jacob was because Jacob had, in fact, told him.  
Golan showed up at the house and took Miss Peregrine, in bird form.  After a lengthy battle and swim to the lighthouse, Jacob, Emma, Bronwyn, and Millard successfully killed Golan the wight, but Miss Peregrine could not turn back into her human form!  Then, all the children realized that the time-loop had not reset, and they were in trouble.  The children, including Jacob, agreed to go in search of another loop.  They all piled into a boat, with Miss Peregrine in tow, and set out on their new journey.  
*end of book* 
 The complete first half of this book is booooooorrrriinnngggg!  Seriously, I understand the need for some backstory, but half of a novel of it is a bit ridiculous.  However, once I got to the meat & potatoes of the novel,  I was hooked!  I couldn't put it down - I just had to know what happened next! 
The ending does end rather abruptly, but I wasn't surprised by this at all since my sister had warned me of this; but all is well, because there are plans for a second book to come out next year!  :)
So, if you're wanting to read something 'different' and intriguing, this is the book for you!  I look forward to book #2!
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Anonymous said...

What I couldn't understand. Is why Miss Peregrine couldn't reset the loop. Did she have to become a Human again to do it or Was it because one if her wings were broken so she could not return to human form ?

Anonymous said...

She cannot reset the loop because the loop must be reset daily. That and gallows had been taking it over so..

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