By Ransom Riggs
This young adult novel is indeed peculiar. The photographs are unusual and it is hard to imagine the stories behind them. In fact, the pictures used in the book are actual, authentic photos, borrowed from collectors. Credits for the photos and owners are listed at the back of the book, along with other acknowledgements.
The novel uses the photos to tell a story that links the photos, and supposed history behind them. It involves a mysterious island and the school of orphaned children who lived there.
Before suddenly and tragically passing away, teenaged Jacob’s grandfather told a story to Jacob. This sends Jacob on a mission for answers to explain his grandfather’s story and death. Jacob is determined to understand his grandfather’s part in this mystery, the photos, and the unusual death.
As he gets to the island off the coast of Wales, Jacob finds the mystery far more complex and dangerous than he could have imagines. Peculiar is putting it mildly.
The more Jacob searches for answers, the more questions he becomes immersed in. Fact and fantasy intermingle, and he is unsure where one ends and one begins. His sanity is questioned by others, and himself, as well. His safety is threatened as a consequence.
This young adult novel will appeal to adults as well. It is a well written, haunting, adventurous fantasy novel. The photographs will amaze and entice you, as each plays a part in this fascinating story.