31 August 2015

Books: Hollow City By Ransom Riggs (2014)

The world of the "peculiars” is a persecuted subset of children and adults who have sideshow-style abilities and abnormalities. Introduced in Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, readers learn of them through Jacob Portman, who discovers the tales his grandfather told of him of strange folks who are live in some form of arrested development, living in a “loop” that is September 3, 1940 over and over again, was far from mere children stories. 

Now, with his grandfather dead and Jacob, having “lived” with the peculiars for a few months (and has discovered he may actually be one himself), joins them in their fight against those who would see them destroyed.

Hollow City picks up just after the cliffhanger ending of the first book, Jacob and his nine friends (including Miss Peregrine, their protector, stuck in bid form) are adrift on water, struggling to find land on which to put more miles between them and their pursuers, the blank-eyed wights and hollowgasts. The fellowships goal is to find the one ymbrynes, Miss Wren, who can transform Miss Peregrine back into human form. But they’re stuck in 1940, and that means becoming part of the events of World War II, which means dodging bombs, debris and just ordinary folks trying to help them. 

With this second volume, Ransom Riggs allows the characters to grow and become more human and not just an assembly of their various abilities. Love blooms for Jacob and affection for the survival of others brings new dimensions all. And I like that the allegory aspect of novel, with children fleeing their London homes as they did in during the bombings of that city by Hitler’s Nazi’s –and then there is the whole parable of the monsters that pursue the children being much like the stromtroopers of that era, with their love of cruelty and gruesome torture.

And while many might draw parallels to Harry Potter, I say so what. It’s an excellent book, and while it is fantasy, Riggs clearly realizes that you must always have reality slipping in between the cracks. Because reality is a very scary thing at times.

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