‘Hollow City’ is the latest book by Ransom Griggs in his series which started with ‘Miss. Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children’. These children are not really children any longer as they have been living with Miss Peregrine in a time loop for over eighty years in safety. At the end of the first book, the day that has been replaying for eighty years finally draws to an actual close and as the bombs drop the children are attacked in their sanctuary.
Peculiar children have special powers which enable them to do strange and occasionally useful things. One boy keeps bees in his stomach, one is completely invisible and another girl is very strong. At the end of the first book, visitor to the island, modern-day teen-ager Jacob has discovered he is peculiar with the ability to detect and defeat the dreadful hollowgasts, undead servants of the malignant wights, which devour the peculiar. Miss Peregrine has been kidnapped by these dreaded wights who want to change history and misuse the powers of the peculiar and the children are forced to leave the safety of their loop in an attempt to save her life.
Jacob and home resident Emma admit their feeling for each other and the raggedy bunch of children attempt to get across England at the height of the Second World War. Along the way, we encounter more marvels of the peculiar world, learn more about the nature of the peculiar and find new allies and enemies. As Jacob wonders if he will ever get home again to his 21st century life, he contemplates staying with Emma forever.
This is a boys and girls adventure with real danger, death and gruesomeness. It’s the sort of book I would have loved as a teen-ager and still find exhilarating. I felt in the thick of the Blitz and also the dark despair of the children as they encounter seemingly insurmountable odds.
Full marks to Ransom Griggs for his efforts, which include again a series of photographs that show images as part of the text. All are genuine, though some have been digitally altered. It might be said to be an affectation but there is something endearingly quirky about an illustrated manuscript which adds an extra dimension to the experience.
I really enjoyed this instalment of the adventures of the peculiar and I’m interested in seeing how this develops. There are some good set pieces and also some examinations of the difficulty of Jacob abandoning his parents to forge his own path that parents will certainly recognise. There is a slight dissonance between the inhabitants of the home and their appearance as children and wondering how this mismatch of age versus exterior will play out as the series progresses. It has already been addressed by the acknowledgment that Emma is actually old enough to be Jacob’s grandmother and, for all we know, she probably is!
This book is for anyone who has ever felt a misfit, a square peg or perhaps mature beyond their outward manifestation but also for those who like the idea of running around buck-naked because they are invisible or having a tummy full of bees.
(pub: Quirk Books. 352 page hardback. Price: £13.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-59474-612-3)
check out website: www.pguk.co.uk