Desert Isle Keeper
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
When I first learned of this novel I was emphatically not going to read it. The back cover blurb hinted of horror novel aspects. The pictures interspersed in the text gave me a creepy vibe. Then Anne Marble posted the book trailer and I became instantly obsessed. I ordered the book that day, got it from Amazon just two days later, and stayed up late into the night finishing it. I am so glad I got a second chance to discover this amazing story.
Jacob has always been very close to his grandfather Abe. In fact, his grandfather’s tales of levitating girls, invisible boys, and the monsters who chase them were his favorite bedtime stories growing up. It is only as Jacob ages that he feels betrayed by the obviously doctored photos that accompanied the narratives and realizes that the adventures are actually an allegory for what happened to a young Jewish boy in a Europe fighting Nazi occupation. The relationship grows strained, and their visits become marred by Jacob’s inability to believe anything Abe tells him. Then comes the night he gets a frantic call from Abe, telling Jacob he is being attacked by the very monsters looking for the “children.” Jacob rushes to his aid, thinking dementia may lead Abe to a crazed or violent act and discovers his grandfather has been brutally killed. His inability to escape that night sends him on a quest for the children’s home that gave sanctuary to his grandfather in the early years of the war. But what he discovers is not quite what he expected.
This wonderful fantasy novel told in first person narrative is a look at the relationships men of all ages have with their fathers. It captures how family members can loose the respect and love they feel for each other as disappointments mount up. But it goes far beyond just that, taking a look at what it truly means to come of age and how difficult it is to make those first decisions that we know will affect our whole lives.
Jacob is a great narrator – teenage boy enough to be amusing, adult enough to be sympathetic to an older audience. He has courage, moral integrity, and a sense of love and loyalty that he inherited from those early years with Abe. It is fun to discover the fantasy aspects of this world through his eyes.
The fantasy is enjoyable and creative. The world building is mild, the fantasy existing within our own world and only lightly bending the bounds of it. That was a really great way to introduce this world, allowing for a lot of character growth that didn’t get bogged down by plot elements.
There is a romance here, though it is in its starting stage. Emma, the heroine, has an interesting history of her own with Jacob’s family, having come into their lives before. She becomes an important character for Jacob not just because of the romantic interest he has in her but because she represents a fork in the road of his life. Will he make the decision his grandfather made many years ago or will he choose to carve out a new path for himself?
Equally interesting is the history of the photographs used in the text, which is told in a scant paragraph in the last pages. The photos are actually foundlings, black and white pictures collected over the years from flea markets, etc. It has certainly made me look at my hard copy images in a new way, wondering what their future will be.
This book has been selected by Amazon’s editors as one of the best books of the year so far, so you don’t have to take just my word for it that it is good. I would recommend it to any reader who enjoys a touch of fantasy in her novels.
Buy it at Amazon/iBooks/Kobo/Barnes and Noble
I've been an avid reader since 2nd grade and discovered romance when my cousin lent me Lord of La Pampa by Kay Thorpe in 7th grade. I currently read approximately 150 books a year, comprised of a mix of Young Adult, romance, mystery, women's fiction, and science fiction/fantasy.