Literature: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

For years, Jacob had delighted at his grandfather's tales of growing up during World War II in an orphanage run by Miss Peregrine and populated by children like himself. Well, not quite like himself. These children were peculiar. Very peculiar.

Today, Jacob is sixteen years old and has outgrown these silly fairy stories... but when his grandfather is killed under strange circumstances, Jacob has only his grandfather's stories and a collection of strange photographs to follow as he finds himself delving deeper into his grandfather's past, where he learns that these silly fairy stories are neither silly nor fiction... and the peculiar children his grandfather spoke of might still be alive...

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is Ransom Riggs's debut novel, and mixes real antique snapshots with a haunting narrative to paint a world where peculiar children might conceivably exist.

A sequel, entitled Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Children, was released in January 2014. A third and final book in the series, The Library of Souls was released in September 2015.

A film adaptation of the first book, directed by Tim Burton, is to be released on the 19th of February 2016 in the U.K. and December 25th 2016 in the U.S.

This page contains tropes (and spoilers!) for the whole trilogy.

This novel contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Several of the children had these, most notably Emma. When her powers manifested, her mother declared her a demon and walked out. Her father beat her, tied her up, and barely fed her, until her younger sister helped her escape.
  • Action Girl: Bronwyn, Emma, and Melina.
  • Adult Fear: A sinister group of once human monsters stalk a group of children with the intention of either experimenting on them or eating them. The more human ones have infiltrated pretty much every strata of human society that could help them, while the more abominable ones are super strong, high endurance giants that are invisible. Even if they knew what was going on, odds are Jacob's parents would be all but powerless to protect him.
    • Driven home with the case of Miss Avocet, whose loop was invaded and whose charges were used as hostages to force her to surrender to the wights. When she and her partner complied, the wights simply fed the children one by one to their hollowgasts.
  • Advertised Extra: The girls in the pictures on the cover of the novels fit this trope to different extents. This seems to be a bit of an Enforced Trope; their characters correspond with particularly striking photographs:
    • Subverted with Olive, on the first book's cover. She's not on the same level of plot-relevance as Jacob or Emma, sure, but she's one of the most talkative and genuinely helpful members of the supporting peculiar cast. She also becomes more relevant in the second book.
    • Sam, the girl on Hollow City's cover, plays this completely straight, showing up for a single chapter that borders on a Shoot the Shaggy Dog / Bizarro Episode, as she has no relevance on anything before and is outright said to be a peculiar who was never saved and died during the Blitz.
    • The boy on the cover of "Library of Souls" doesn't actually appear in the book but was used as a propaganda poster by the Clay Wings
  • Alliterative Name: Bronywn, Bekhir and Melina are notable examples.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Jacob to Emma late in Hollow City.
  • Animal Motifs: Birds. Miss Peregrine, duh.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Jeffrey Dahmer was a wight.
  • The Berserker: Bronwyn, especially if you threaten Miss Peregrine.
  • Beta Couple: Hugh and Fiona.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Why Sam refuses to leave her normal sister behind and go with the peculiars.
  • Black Speech: The hollowgast's wheezes and snarls are actually their language. Jacob can understand it, speak it, and use it to control them.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: Emma attempts this on Jacob to make him go back to his own time period where he'll be safe. It doesn't work. Mutually tried at the end of Library of Souls, and it still doesn't work,
  • Came Back Wrong: The Hollowgast
  • Cain and Abel: Caul and Bentham in "Library of Souls"
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Ambrosia and peculiar sheep's wool in Library of Souls.
  • Circus Brats: All of the peculiars before Miss Peregrine established their loop.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: For all the peculiar children, but particularly Jacob.
  • Creating Life: Enoch, who also has a primitive Mad Scientist Laboratory to boot.
  • Creepy Child: A lot of the children at Miss Peregrine's orphanage.
  • Creepy Twins: Dressed as clowns, no less, though they never actually show up.
    • In the sequel, Joel-and-Peter.
  • Cthulhumanoid: Hollows, with emphasis on the "Cthulhu" part. They've got a roughly humanoid frame, but their mass of Combat Tentacle tongues are so much stronger and longer than their limbs that they use them as substitutes for their arms and legs, which are functionally vestigial.
  • The Dandy: Horace. "Call me a dandy if you will, but just because the villagers won't remember what you wear, doesn't give you license to dress like a vagabond."
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Enoch, who can manipulate the dead and described as being a Creepy Child in general, but is a good guy if kinda a dick and rather pragmatic.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the children have shades of it, but especially Enoch and Millard.
  • Defrosting the Ice Queen: Jacob to Emma.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Jacob's grandfather dies in his arms at the start of the book.
  • Downer Ending: Hollow City ends with the reveal that the bird they've been spending the whole book believing to be Miss Peregrine is actually her wight brother, Caul. He then calls in an army of wights to capture all of the peculiar children and Miss Wren, kills Althea, and drags everyone to the modern day world where they will be subjected to the wight's experiments (which will either kill them or leave them vegetables). The one bright spot is that Jacob and Emma manage to avoid being taken along with everyone else, and Jacob learns he has the ability to speak the hollowgast language and control them.
  • Eldritch Abomination: As weird as the kids are, they look positively normal next to the hollowgasts and wights...
  • Extranormal Institute: Miss Peregrine's Home counts.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Mr. White expresses his disgust at fellow wight soldier when said soldier begins sexually harassing Emma.
  • Eye Scream: Jacob kills a hollowgast this way.
  • Gentle Giant: Bronwyn.
  • Green Thumb: Fiona. She's also wonderful with topiary.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: The nature of the time loops.
  • Healing Factor: Sam, can have entire chunks of her body completely torn apart without even a little bit of bleeding, and the wound completely heals up within a day or so. Millard believes that since she never lived in a loop, and such a profoundly powerful ability would have made her famous among peculiars, that she eventually took a wound she couldn't recover from during the Blitz and died.
  • The Heartless
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: Bentham, Miss Peregrine's brother, assists the children into infiltrating Caul's fortress, but later betrays them. However, in the climax, he pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to stop his brother.
  • I Choose to Stay: In the end, Jacob chooses to stay with the children in looking for surviving ymbrynes.
    • He comes very close to leaving in Hollow City, only for everything to go to hell when the wights capture everyone. He's not going anywhere.
  • An Ice Person: Althea.
  • Immortality Seeking: The reason the hollowgasts and wights exist in the first place.
  • Inhuman Human: The Hollowgast were once peculiars.
  • The Infiltration: Caul is able to capture Jacob and the other peculiars by pretending to be Miss Peregrine in bird form
  • Invisible Streaker: Millard.
  • Invisible to Normals: Hollowgasts. Though it should be noted that even most Peculiars, who are definitely not normal, can't see them either. It takes a special kind of Peculiar for that, such as Jacob and his grandfather.
  • Jerk With A Heartof Gold: Enoch. He's pragmatic, abrasive, and has a really clear case of Bad Powers, Good People going on, what with essentially being the universe's equivalent of a Necromancer. There's also no question that he cares deeply for the group, and he is the only one of the kids who plays with Esme when she gets scared, using the last of his clay soldiers as a toy to make her happier.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Jacob. At the beginning he has a grand total of one friend.
  • Made of Plasticine: Sam, although it's justified since it's her peculiarity.
  • Magical Seventh Son: Technically the seventh pup, Addison claims to be this.
  • May-December Romance: Averted with Emma and Jacob. Even though Emma is technically in her eighties, living in the loop means she hasn't aged physically or emotionally in decades and is still essentially a teenager.
  • Meaningful Name: Miss Peregine, who can transform into a bird. It seems all ymbryne have these, such as Miss Finch, who can transform into a finch, and so on.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Jacob's father Franklin and his sister Susie always thought that their father was cheating on their mother with another woman because they found letters addressed to him from a woman who called herself "E." It turned out to be Emma, and he wasn't cheating on his wife with her.
  • Milky White Eyes: The wights all have these.
  • Mind over Matter: Melina, although her power only works when she's familiarized herself with the house.
  • Neurodiversity Is Supernatural: Jacob, who early in the novel is diagnosed with acute stress syndrome and suffers panic attacks, hallucinations, and possibly PTSD... actually just can see hollowgasts, and his symptoms are him responding to their presence.
  • No Immortal Inertia: If a child leaves the loop for too long, time will catch up to them and they will rapidly age, to grisly effect. When the ymbrynes destroy the titular loop at the end of the third book, the rule is subverted; each person's age is reset to their loop age, allowing them to age forward at a normal speed when taken out.
  • Oh Crap!: Once the children realize that the time loop is continuing past what it should, which means they're going to get bombed very soon.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Sam reacts this way to being impaled. Apparently, it's happened before. Millard thinks that in the end, she suffered a wound too severe to shrug off.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Jacob.
  • Our Time Travel Is Different: In order to keep the children safe, Miss Peregrine has hidden them away in a little pocket of time where it has been September 3rd, 1940 ever since... September 3rd, 1940. She makes sure the time loop resets just before the Germans bomb the everloving crap out of the Home, and the children have not aged since that day, though they remember each iteration of the day. It is mentioned that other ymbrynes have created similar time loops as refuges for other groups of peculiars.
  • Our Wights Are Different
  • Parental Substitute: Miss Peregrine for the children. Particularly Emma, who outright calls her the only real mother she's ever known.
  • Playing with Fire: Emma's shtick.
  • Posthumous Character: Victor, who's long dead before the events of the first book and is never shown alive on-screen.
  • Power Incontinence: Olive, a girl with the power of levitation, must wear weighted shoes or otherwise be tied down to keep from floating away.
  • Psycho Psychologist: Played straight with Jacob's doctor in Library of Souls. For one thing, he's a wight.
  • Punny Name: Bronwyn; the first syllable of her name sounds a lot like "brawn".
  • The Quiet One: Fiona.
  • Secret Legacy: Grandpa Portman left some pretty big shoes for Jacob to fill.
  • Sharp Dressed Boy: Horace.
  • Single-Minded Twins: Peter-and-Joel; it's one of their peculiarities.
  • Spooky Photographs: Used as spectacle and illustration throughout the books. And the best part is that they are all real antique photos collected by the author (and several of his friends and fellow hobbyists) before he ever started writing the story.
  • Super-Strong Child: Bronwyn.
  • Team Mom: Emma and Bronwyn tend to take these roles.
  • Theme Naming: The ymbrynes are all named after birds. Which makes sense, considering they can turn into them.
  • Those Two Guys: A pair of twins constantly shows up in photographs, but we never get to actually meet them.
  • Time Master: The ymbrynes, which have the power to manipulate time.
  • Time Travel Romance: A major problem in Emma and Jacob's relationship.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Bronwyn and Olive.
  • Took a Level in Badass: A lot of the peculiar children in Hollow City, once they start using their abilities to fight the hollowgast and the wights. Special mention goes to Emma, for burning a hollowgast's tongue off, Hugh, for summoning an army of bees to kill the wights that had taken the others captive, and Jacob, whose ability develops over the course of the story to not only seeing the hollowgast, but also being able to sense them, speak their language, and ultimately control them.
  • Trapped in the Past: Jacob, in Hollow City.
  • The Tunguska Event: Comes up as a plot point.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifter: Miss Peregrine (and others like her, called ymbrynes) can turn into birds. The reason given is that only birds can master the time loops.
  • Wham Line: When Jacob asks Emma what made his grandfather peculiar:
    Emma: He could see the monsters.
  • World War II: Miss Peregrine's loop is in September 3rd, 1940.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Before Jacob joins the other peculiars on their journey at the end of the first book, Emma warns him that the time loop will close once they leave it, and it will be very difficult for Jacob to return to his own time again, if he even can. He nonetheless agrees to go with them after going back to say goodbye to his father.

Alternative Title(s):

Miss Peregrines Home For Peculiar Children