After his gandfather’s death, Jason visits a psychologist who shows him how to partially see the worl and encourages the boy to go to Wales after a letter arrives. Jason’s grandfather, having escaped the Nazi’s in Poland to go to Wales firmly believed in monsters. Riggs neatly plays in this allowing us to naturally see the soldiers as the monsters, hiding the truly weird beneath the surface.
Having reached Wales with his father he finds more evidence of the strange world in some vintage photographs. he needs to break the locked trunk which gives him access not only to the remaining photos but also to the shifted world in which the house really exists. Delving into the land with a bog body and barrows, Jacob begins to get an appreciation off the hidden world which his grandfather left and tried to protect. The children he meets introduce him to Miss Peregrine who, in turn, introduces him to the hidden world which he shifts into and out of between his families. She teaches him aout the reality of monsters when she informs him of the hollowgasts and wights, soulless perversions of the fantastic.
Riggs uses the Chekovian idea of introducing the gun in the first act and using it in the third when the psychiatrst comes back. Is Riggs arguing that the world cannot be fully understood or made “safe”? It follows numerous other novels in revelling in the chase towards the dark, that the dragon can be defeated.
What perhaps really lifts this novel are the vintage photographs which interleave the stories and give some shape to the characters. Using what appear to be simple tricks of positioning or exposure rather than digitial manipulation, they make the reinforce the simplicty which he uses in the book. It is a different sort of technique which asks the reader to look at the image again to check whether it is what they are seeing.
This is the beginning of a series, it appears, but is definitely a novel which is worth looking out for. It has a very peculiar twist to it which remind me of Edward Carey‘s novel, Alva and Irva.