Last month I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and this month I read its sequels Hollow City and Library of Souls which were not quite as strong as their predecessor but still relatively enjoyable for YA fantasy.
**Spoilers for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children below**
“I was here for a reason. There was something I was meant not simply to be, but to do- and it wasn’t to run or hide or give up the minute things seemed terrifying and impossible.”
So when we left Jacob Portman and Company their 1940s time loop had been destroyed and Miss Peregrine was trapped as a bird leaving her wards to fend for themselves. The motley crew make their way out of Cairnholm where, using a Peculiar book of fairy tales, the discover a time loop inhabited by Peculiar animals. Their ymbryne, Miss Wren, has evaded capture by the wights so our heroes travel to London, the Peculiar capital of the world, to find her. Using the book of Peculiar fairy tales for more clues Jacob, Emma and the other children set off to find Miss Wren’s pigeons with the hopes that they will lead them to Miss Wren who in turn will help Miss Peregrine turn back into a human.
It is a pretty convoluted book with one too many stories. My biggest complaint about Hollow City is it felt like it could have easily been condensed to a few chapters in its predecessor or successor to make a more succinct, better novel. There are a lot of tangents in order to introduce more Peculiar people and this give Riggs the excuse to show us more of his eerie black and white photos but there isn’t much of value here. It ends on a big cliffhanger so it is pretty obvious that Riggs anticipated writing a third book which sort of makes this seem like a bit of a cash grab?
**Spoilers for Hollow City below**
“I felt like one of those mythical heroes who fights his way back from the underworld only to realize that the world above is every bit as damned as the one below.”
At the end of Hollow City it is discovered that the bird our Peculiar protagonists have been carrying around is not Miss Peregrine but is actually her brother, Caul, who is the engineer behind wights and hollows. Not only has our ragtag group of heroes been unintentionally giving all their intel away to the enemy they are no step closer to rescuing their mother figure. Caul and his army of wights capture the Peculiars but Emma manages to melt her handcuffs and escape to a present day phone booth with Jacob.
Now Jacob and Emma have to navigate present day London while being pursued by wights and Emma being in danger of her age catching up to her which would turn her to dust. The duo manage to find the Peculiar dog, Addison, that they met at Miss Wren’s menagerie at the beginning of Hollow City and, after an unnecessarily long chase scene, they manage to find a Peculiar ferryman named Sharon who takes them to an ancient loop called Devil’s Acre. Devil’s Acre is about as cheery as it sounds; Peculiar people sell their talents and many are addicted to a power enhancing drug called Ambrosia.
After a series of unfortunate run ins, which results in their separation from Addison, Emma and Jacob are brought to the house of a mysterious man named Bentham. Bentham, it turns out, is Miss Peregrine’s other brother who is equally responsible for the creation of wights and hollows but he denies any intentional wrong doing and vows to help our dwindling group of heroes. He tells a story about the Library of Souls which is in a loop that has been lost to time but has a collection of ancient Peculiar souls that Caul would find very valuable.
So Bentham’s life work involves something he calls a panloopdicon which links loops together and provides faster travel for Peculiars which keeps them safe from the dangers of aging up. Using a Hollow that Jacob has been controlling- oh yeah, Jacob can control Hollows now- they are able to get the panloopdicon to work. This gives Emma and Jacob the ability to travel to the loop the wights have been using for their experiments on all the Peculiar people they have kidnapped. There is a big battle but in the end Caul manages to get Jacob to the Library of Souls where he, and only he, is able to see the soul jars. Because Jacob went from a Pecuilar who could see Hollows to one that can also talk to and control Hollows and is also the first Peculiar in a thousand years able to see soul jars.
Without giving too much away the ending is left pretty open so it should be no surprise Riggs is releasing a fourth book at the end of the year. I hope he has learned to reign in his meandering writing style because his story is full of good ideas and there are a lot of places it could go but his execution leaves a lot to be desired. The constant back and forth between Jacob and Emma being in peril or being superhuman and extraordinarily lucky got a bit tiring. I really wish these two books had been condensed together. I don’t think anything important would have been lost by losing a couple hundred pages and it definitely would have made for a tighter narrative.