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Literature / Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

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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 16 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.

Initial trilogy

  1. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
  2. Hollow City
  3. Library of Souls

New trilogy

  1. A Map of Days (Released in 2018)
  2. The Conference of the Birds (Released in 2020)
  3. The Desolations of Devil's Acre (Released in 2021)

A film adaptation of the first book, directed by Tim Burton, was released on September 30th 2016. The page for it is here.

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


  • Addictive Magic: Jacob suspects the loops' magic works like this.
    It was as if just being here had some kind of narcotic effect on me; like the loop itself was a drug—a mood enhancer and a sedative combined—and if I stayed too long, I’d never want to leave.
    If that were true, I thought, it would explain a lot of things, like how people could live the same day over and over for decades without losing their minds.
  • 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 Claywings.
    • The girl on the cover of The Conference of the Birds does not appear until the very end and is unnamed. The following book reveals her name to be Sophie.
    • The girl on the cover of The Desolations of Devil's Acre only appears on one page, has no lines and is unnamed.
  • Alliterative Name
    • Bronwyn Bruntley
    • Fiona Frauenfeld
    • Bekhir Bekhmanatov
    • Melina Manon
  • Anachronism Stew: Many deliberate examples, including one instance of a wight scientist in a Victorian-era laboratory singing a Fleetwood Mac song. Justified by the fact that many characters pass through different time periods using the time loops.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Jacob to Emma late in Hollow City, followed by a True Love's Kiss.
  • Animal Motifs: Birds, of course. Miss Peregrine and all of the other ymbrines are named after different bird species, and Jacob's dad is a birdwatcher.
  • Author Appeal:
    • The books are full of strange, anonymous, antique, Spooky Photographs that Ransom Riggs had discovered, and these photos heavily influence the structure and content of the books.
    • The series also takes place in Florida where Ransom Riggs grew up and still live to this day.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Jeffrey Dahmer was a wight.
  • 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.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The peculiar sheep's wool in Hollow City, and the ambrosia and peculiar sheep's wool again in Library of Souls.
  • Coming of Age Story: For all the peculiar children, but particularly Jacob.
  • 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.
  • Cute Creature, Creepy Mouth: Claire is a cute little girl, but on the back of her neck is a huge monster's mouth full of teeth, usually hidden by her hair.
  • Dem Bones: Enoch re-animates skeletons from the Ghost Ship to fight the hollowghasts.
  • Demoted to Extra: In the second book, there's Miss Peregrine, who is arrested in bird form and actually, was never even in the book to begin with, and the third demotes most of the children, who are captive for a large part of it, leaving the focus on Jacob and Emma.
  • Deus ex Machina: In the first book, it's set up that the peculiar children, who've been living in a this loop for near a century, cannot leave it, or they will age forward and die. This creates a difficult situation for Jacob and Emma. But come Library of Souls, a plot device has reset the ages of everyone involved to match their bodies, and it's hand waved away.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Jacob's grandfather dies in his arms at the start of the book.
  • Dining in the Buff: Millard Nullings is an Invisible Streaker and often eats his meals while naked (much to Miss Peregrine's chagrin).
    Miss Peregrine: How many times must I tell you, polite persons do not take their supper in the nude!
  • Eldritch Abomination: As weird as the kids are, they look positively normal next to the hollowghasts and wights...
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Mr. White expresses his disgust at fellow wight soldier when said soldier begins sexually harassing Emma.
  • Extranormal Institute: Miss Peregrine's Home counts.
  • Eye Scream: Jacob kills a hollowgast this way.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Jacob first manages near-total control over a hollowgast after spending an entire night's sleep communicating with it subconsciously. The trick to taking control over the entire herd of them is falling into a coma along with them.
    • Also, the crazy old man in Library of Souls counts big-time. He says seemingly nonsense about dust-mothers (Mother Dust, without whom Jacob would've died in Abaton.), damned librarians (could be seen as Jacob, or even better, Abe (or Abe's soul), in Abe's case stolen by Bentham), and blessed cartographers (Perplexus Anomalous).
  • Generational Magic Decline: It is believed by some that the peculiars of the story are descended from a handful of peculiars who were extremely powerful and the size of giants. As they multiplied, their powers diluted, and as they became less powerful, they shrank.
  • Generational Trauma: The first book puts a fair amount of focus on the messy family relationship between Jacob, Frank, and Abraham.
    I was crying so hard I had to gasp for breath between sobs. I thought about how my great-grandparents had starved to death. I thought about their wasted bodies being fed to incinerators because people they didn't know hated them. I thought about how the children who lived in this house had been burned up and blown apart because a pilot who didn't care pushed a button. I thought about how my grandfather's family had been taken from him, and how because of that my dad grew up feeling like he didn't have a dad, and now I had acute stress and nightmares and was sitting alone in a falling-down house and crying hot, stupid tears all over my shirt. All because of a seventy-year-old hurt that had somehow been passed down to me like some poisonous heirloom, and monsters I couldn't fight because they were all dead, beyond killing or punishing or any kind of reckoning.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: The nature of the time loops.
  • Happy Ending Override:
    • The ending of Library of Souls makes it seem as if Jacob and Emma will live out the rest of their lives together. A Map of Days makes it clear that Emma still has feelings for Jacob's grandfather Abe. This complicates the relationship to the point that they eventually break up and Jacob meets a new love interest named Noor. In The Conference of the Birds, Jacob and Emma decide that they are better off as friends.
    • Also, it turns out that Caul, the primary antagonist of the series, was only temporarily defeated and the second trilogy revolves around his return.
  • Healing Factor: Sam, who 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. A foolish sport fighter in the third book also demonstrates accelerated healing, but his arrogance toward the hollow he's facing off against serves him poorly.
  • 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.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Subverted. While normals in general do pose a real threat to peculiars, there are a number of examples of them being helpful. It is even implied that the governments of some nations are aware of the peculiars' existence and have cooperated with them to some extent in the past. Conversely, there are also instances of peculiars being cruel to normals.
  • An Ice Person: Miss Wren's aide Althea has ice powers so strong she can fortify a building with ice in minutes.
  • 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.
  • The Infiltration: Caul is able to capture Jacob and the other peculiars by pretending to be Miss Peregrine in bird form.
  • Invasion of the Baby Snatchers: 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.
  • Island of Mystery: Cairnholm—it's got quasi-time travel, and an Extranormal Institute… as well as the less-than-glamorous trappings of a small remote Welsh island. Subverted in that it's far from the only loop, but it brings Jacob into the story.
    It was my grandfather's island. Looming and bleak, folded in mist, guarded by a million screaming birds, it looked like some ancient fortress constructed by giants. As I gazed up at its sheer cliffs, tops disappearing into a reef of ghostly clouds, the idea that this was a magical place didn't seem so ridiculous.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In The Conference of the Birds, Jacob comments upon his and Noor's arrival in Miss V's loop that he'd imagined something more welcoming waiting for them. He says that just once he'd like to see something such as a nice shade-dappled glen in a forest, "Just once, something like the portals in kids' books."
  • Lighter and Softer: The first book really leans into the fucked up aspects of the story. Jacob is attracted to Emma, but he's also skeeved out by being a Replacement Goldfish for his late grandfather's ex. It dwells on the messy family dynamics between Jacob, Frank, and Abraham. The main conflict is not the Character-vs-Character conflict with wrights; it's a Character-vs-Nature conflict with the magical properties of the loop. Miss Peregrine's wards cannot leave without rapidly aging. It's awful, but it's just how it functions and railing against it is about as effective as railing against gravity. In the later books this becomes increasingly not the case. Library of Souls romanticizes Jacob and Emma's relationship and handwaves the loop aging thing.
  • Made of Plasticine: Sam, although it's justified since it's her peculiarity.
  • Meaningful Name: All ymbrynes are named for the birds they transform into.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Jacob's father, Franklin, and his aunt, 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, having already broken off his relationship with her, even though she continued to pine for him.
  • Muggles: Called variously "normals", "non-peculiars", "mortals", and in old Peculiar, "coerlfolc".
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: In A Map of Days, Noor calls her foster-father what is initially said as "fart-face," though Jacob explains that she actually refers to him using another word starting with "f" that he can't use.
  • 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, though this only seems to apply to the group present at the closing.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Jacob regards most of his relatives as this. The only family members he's close to are his grandfather Abe and his Aunt Susie.
  • Oh, Crap!: In the first book, once the children realize that their time loop is continuing past when it should reset, which means they're going to get bombed very soon due to the lack of lifesaving reset.
  • Oh Wait, This Is My Grocery List: In The Conference of the Birds, the list of ingredients for a formula that the wights are planning to use to revive Caul is found on the back of a grocery list.
    Miss Peregrine took it from him and began to read. Her brow furrowed almost immediately. "Is this a joke?" Horace leaned over to peek at it. "Quail eggs... jellied eels... cabbages..." "Oh no, that's a grocery list," Nim said, hands fluttering as he reached for the paper and turned it over in the ymbryne's hands. "Other side."
  • Older Than They Look: Anyone who has lived inside a loop for an extended period of time.
  • 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.
  • 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. Because the loop was formed under duress, she must make sure the time resets just before a German bomb falls on 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.
  • Punny Name: Several of the peculiars have puns in their first or last names relating to their unique abilities.
    • Millard Nullings is invisible, therefore his appearance is null.
    • Bronwyn Bruntley is all brawn and can take the brunt of any heavy object.
    • Hugh Apiston hosts bees inside his body, making him a living apiary.
    • Claire Densmore has a backmouth, meaning she has more teeth...which is dens in Latin.
    • Horace Somnusson has prophetic dreams, and "somn" is a Latin root for "sleep". His name may also be based on "horoscope".
  • Secret Legacy: Grandpa Portman left some pretty big shoes for Jacob to fill. He fills them quite nicely.
  • Silver Spoon Troublemaker: Jacob starts out like this. He's the heir to his mother's family's chain of successful stores and is currently working part time as a low level employee at one. He despises his job, however, and constantly messes up on purpose, much to the annoyance of his manager. Naturally, said manager knows if she fires Jacob, she'll most probably lose her job soon after, so she has no choice but to tolerate his behavior (despite him actually hoping she'd fire).
  • Soul-Sucking Retail Job: Jacob is stuck working in a grocery store at the beginning of the story, and he desperately wants out, but his family owns the business and turns a blind eye to his attempts to get fired. He gets out of it after his grandfather dies, with the idea that his "only job was getting better".
  • 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.
  • Theme Naming: The ymbrynes are all named after the birds they can turn into.
  • There Are No Therapists:
    • Averted in the first book, where they're used for plot reasons instead. When Jacob is traumatized and having nightmares, his parents send him to a competent, professional, realistic-sounding therapist to deal with the grief and trauma. Too bad the therapist is a wight using Jacob for leads about the Cairnholm loop.
    • When Jacob returns home at the end of the series, his parents put him back in therapy, which now fails because he knows his impossible experiences are entirely real.
  • Time-Travel Romance: A major problem in Emma and Jacob's relationship, as Emma's years would catch up with her if she entered the present day.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • A lot of the peculiar children in Hollow City, once they start using their abilities to fight the hollowghasts and the wights. Special mention goes to:
    • Emma, for burning a hollowghast's tongue off.
    • Hugh, for summoning an army of bees to kill the wights that had taken the others captive.
    • Jacob, whose ability develops over the course of the story to not only seeing the hollowghast, but also being able to sense them, speak their language, and ultimately control them.
    • An interesting inversion of this trope occurs with the hollowghasts. When they "level up" into wights, they actually become less powerful, losing their massive strength and invisibility. They still view this as a plus, however, because becoming a wight allows them to pass as human and (in their view, at least) be one step closer to the possibility of becoming immortal.
  • Trapped in the Past: Jacob, in Hollow City.
  • Trilogy Creep: It was a trilogy, however, A Map of Days was released in 2018. This book is said to be the start of a new trilogy, but it takes place following the events of the third book and features the same characters on a new adventure.
  • The Shadow Knows: A hollow is invisible to common people until it's about to eat. (Read: "Until it's too late") However, its shadow is always visible.
  • The Tunguska Event: Comes up as a plot point. It was apparently caused by the attempt of renegade peculiars and their allies to gain eternal youth without being confined to loops, utilizing the site of a long-disused time loop in the Siberian tundra for their experiment.
  • Villain Has a Point: Caul and his followers object to the fact that peculiars have been persecuted by normals for centuries without fighting back, or even banding together to form their own society on a large scale. They also call out the ymbrynes' loop system for having no ultimate long-term plan.
  • Wham Line: When Jacob asks Emma what made his grandfather peculiar:
    Emma: He could see the monsters.
  • 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.