Hollow City by Ransom Riggs


[Edit: Originally published May 19, 2016]

The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants- I’m sorry, the wights and hollowgasts, formerly peculiars who lost their forms in an experiment to increase their powers and raise them to the level of gods, are after the Peculiar Children and Miss Peregrine who is injured and stuck in her bird form. The trouble that was brewing in book one has now come to a head!

The children, plus one Jacob, must travel through the war torn country side to London to find help for their teacher and guardian Miss Peregrine before it’s too late and she’s stuck as a bird forever. 

This is a typical book two of a trilogy (this isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a way trilogies often get set up, you can see it in “Hunger Games” too). The first book set everything up, we know what we’re dealing with, then in book two everything increases in intensity. If a series is going to have a book about traveling or searching for something, this is going to be that book (see “The Two Towers”).

The children meet more people, some who help and some who hinder. Some who die and some who don’t. Frankly I was surprised with the amount of deaths and who the deaths were. The plot twist was excellent and beautifully placed. There’s a point in the book where things are winding down and it looks like things are going to be sorted out, but then you see how many pages are left and go “That can’t possibly be right, if it’s resolved then what happens in these pages?” That’s the beauty of the plot twist, it ends the second book and prepares you for what’s next.

Update on the favorite character front, still Millard, but I have a growing fondness for Hugh. The poor boy only has one bee left.

Buy the book here.

Related reviews: Miss Peregrine’s and Library of Souls



Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs


[Edit: Originally published May 16,  2016]

When I started reading this book I described it to a friend as a historical fantasy X-Men AU, and having finished it I still stand by that statement. There was the parallel between Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and The Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters that I saw and there was also the peculiars as sub species of homo sapiens (see mutants as homo superior). However, boiling it down solely to that would not be doing the book justice at all.

This book was fan-fucking-tastic. It had literally been sitting on my bookshelf for two years and I am so mad at myself for not having read it sooner.

It’s the exact sort of eerie that I adore. It’s eerie and mysterious, but it’s not smacking you over the head with grimdark either. It’s exactly as eerie and peculiar as the covers make it seem. The black and white photos that accompany the story are perfectly placed and enhance what your reading ten fold. 

The year is 1940, but no wait, it’s also 2011. September 3rd 1940, it’s a very important date. A date that holds all the answers that our young protagonist Jacob needs after the death of grandfather. “Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man’s grave. September third, 1940.” His grandfather’s last words lead him on a journey that there’s no turning back from. A group of peculiar children and their teacher, who have secrets and not-so-secrets, and there’s trouble brewing abroad that is more that just the troubles of World War 2.

I’m a huge sucker for WW2 era books, and this is the perfect blend of historical and fantasy. You get a whole bunch of weird set to a back drop of World War 2. 

Also, like I talked about at the beginning, I get the same draw from the peculiar as I do with mutants. There’s an othering there that I can identify with which allows me to latch onto the characters more tightly than I might in another book. Basically, if you really like the whole mutant metaphor thing of the X-Men, then I would highly, highly, recommend this book.

For the record, my favorite character is Millard the Invisible Boy. 

Book can be found here.

Related reviews: Hollow City and Library of Souls



The Radiant Road by Katherine Catmull

[Edit: Originally published on April 4, 2016]

(A note about the snapchat comment: I thought the girl on the cover looked a bit like Caleb Landry Jones, who plays Sean Cassidy in X Men: First Class, Theresa is Sean’s daughter in the X Men comics.)

When is a fairy tale not a fairy tale? When it tells you that it isn’t. Such is The Radiant Road. 

Clare Macleod is returning to Ireland, to her home with the tree, after years of living in the States. She is a girl who knows and recognizes Strange things and when she comes home she remembers that her home is full of Strange. Strange or another word that could be used, magic. What other books would call “magic” The Radiant Road calls “making” creation is the key to the whole book. You must make. It doesn’t matter if it’s particularly “good” in critical terms, what matters is that it’s yours and comes from you.

Clare must learn to make again after years of pushing aside the fairies and the Strange that she knew as a child. If she doesn’t, the fairy world and the human world could be forever severed and the worlds would lose the light and love of the other. 

I loved the mistakes that Clare made. She was not the perfect heroine, yes there was a happy ending, but she still made the mistakes of a teenager and there were serious consequences to those mistakes. The mistakes that were made almost cost Clare everything that she’d worked so hard for.

The Radiant Road is recommended for ages 12 and up but I would argue that younger children could find enjoyment in this story as well. Though I suppose part of the point of the story is too remind teenagers and young adults of the magic they found as a child. That was certainly what I took away from it. I remember as a little boy I would put out these dainty little tea sets with water and food to try and attract fairies to visit me. I even built a fairy home at my grandmother’s house, but I haven’t done either of those things for a long time. I think this book serves as a reminder that just because we grow up we don’t have to outgrow the magic we had as children. 

All in all the book is beautifully written and there is never a boring moment. As I read it I felt that it was written like a book that should move slowly, however, it moved along very smoothly once you started reading. There was just too much happening for it not to. 

Once again what I’ve read is an uncorrected proof, but the book is for sale and I would highly recommend picking up a copy.

The Snaps: