Review #11: Fiction
Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
Alright, continuing on with Two-fer Tuesday, as promised, I give you my review of the second novel in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children collection, Hollow City.
If you have not read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children this review will contain some spoilers, so if you don’t care, continue reading, if you do, stop reading this review and get to your nearest bookseller or library and catch up.
Hollow City picks up immediately where Miss Peregrine’s Home leaves off, the children are running from the Hollowgast (the monsters that resulted from the past experiments on peculiars) and the Wights (the almost-human beings created when a Hollowgast consumes enough peculiar souls). Their time loop has been destroyed and they’ve recovered bird-formed Miss Peregrine from the Wights who kidnapped her. The problem: she can’t seem to turn back into a human. Another problem: the Wights are going to be coming after them. Jacob has chosen to leave his life in the future behind and continue on in 1940 with the group of peculiar children to help stop the Wights from kidnapping the other ymbrynes (the women like Miss Peregrine who turn into birds and look after groups of peculiar children in various time loops around the world). So first things first, they need to get off the island and to mainland Wales. Being in 1940, they need to do this in row boats, during an air-raid.
With some complications along the way, where they lose much of what they were able to bring with them, they eventually make it to land and continue searching for another loop to enter, to look for any remaining ymbrynes who can help them. With the help of a story from the book of Peculiar Tales, they are able to find one, where the inhabitants are mostly animals, two of which can speak. From these animals the children learn that the ymbryne of that loop, Miss Wren, has gone to London (the peculiar capital of the world) to aid her fellow ymbryne sisters. They also learn that Miss Peregrine has been poisoned, which is why she can’t turn back. Her only chance at being human again is with the help of another ymbryne. If she stays a bird much longer, a total of about three days, she will become the bird forever, with no human memory at all. Thus, the children hop a train to London now in search of Miss Wren.
After another tip from the Peculiar Tales, they begin looking for a group of peculiar pigeons that report to Miss Wren, and in their search, come across another loop, also without an ymbryne, and almost entirely without peculiars. They add one girl and two boys to their group, the girl being friendly with Miss Wren’s pigeons and able to get them on the path to Miss Wren.
The group ends up at a carnival, heading for the Freak Show which they know always hides a peculiar or two. From there they are pointed in the direction of the Peculiar Headquarters, where they find the building completely encased in ice… but they also find Miss Wren among the crowd. She leads them in, explains the small group that is living in the headquarters, preparing to fight the Wights, and the children explain Miss Peregrine’s situation. Miss Wren is overjoyed at hearing there is another ymbryne who escaped and sets to work to bring her back, a long, hard and dangerous process.
Jacob has been helping the children this whole time with his peculiar talent, the same his grandfather had: the ability to see the Hollowgast. The other children cannot, and without Jacob would never know when danger was coming. Though with Miss Peregrine on her way back to herself, and finding Miss Wren and the other small group, Jacob has done what he set out to do. At the insistence of Emma, his grandfather’s old flame and Jacob’s current flame (a little strange love story going on), Jacob has realized he should go home now, back to his own time and family. Only Miss Peregrine has the ability to send him back, since it was her loop he entered when leaving the present.
The end of this book throws some big twists at you, ones that I never saw coming, which I absolutely love. There was little to no evidence things weren’t looking up for this group, but something major throws everything back into chaos. Jacob cannot leave the group, the headquarters are surrounded and overrun by Wights and Hollowgast and the children and Miss Wren are being rounded up and kidnapped to be used in the Wights’ peculiar experiments.
When the book ends, the children are being loaded into a train in present day London, when a commotion breaks out and Jacob and Emma are able to escape, though the rest are left stuck on the train as it pulls away. Needless to say, this book, just like the last, sets up a brilliant cliff hanger and opens the door to even more adventure and danger and mystery going into the next installment. I for one cannot wait.
Just as with the first book, there are the real (and real creepy) photographs throughout, again seamlessly eased into the narrative and plot and help create the mood and setting for this novel that spans decades, even centuries, in time as the children travel in search of safety. There are some really great moments that showcase the hardships and horrors of WWII era London and again a brilliant narrative about fitting in, about life and loss, and about survival during the harshest of conditions. Riggs is a phenomenal writer and seems to present a complicated and intriguing story effortlessly. These novels are roller coaster rides of excitement, adventure, terror, and danger and should not be missed. Hollow City packs an even bigger punch than the first novel, deepening the plot and showing no signs of this story slowing down.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
*cover image from Amazon.com