Hollow City by Ransom Riggs, (400 pages, 2014), is a sequel to Ms. Peregrine’s Peculiar Children (my review). The two books are unique in that they take freaky old photographs as their jumping off point. The stories are unique, and the numerous old photographs add an amusing and creepy dimension that really bring the stories to life. Weird old photographs are not uncommon. But these are truly one-of-a-kind photographs that make you say, “What in the world?”
Summary from Goodreads:
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children was the surprise best seller of 2011—an unprecedented mix of YA fantasy and vintage photography that enthralled readers and critics alike.
This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.
Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages.
This is basically a hero quest story, from the point of view of sixteen-year-old Jacob. On their way to London, Jacob’s group encounters a lot of danger and peril, often being pursued by bad guys or hollowgast (monsters). It was suspenseful, but I could have done with fewer chase scenes. When Riggs is asked in this youtube interview if the stories or the photos came first in writing Hollow City, he replies that the photos inspired the book. I think it is for this reason that the plot seems a little forced at times. However, if a group of authors were given the challenge of making up a storyline to accompany some photos, I can’t imagine anyone doing a better job of it than Ransom Riggs. An interesting plot twist takes place in the last twenty pages of the book. I guess this is to make us want to read the third volume in the Peculiar Children series, not yet published.
In Hollow City we get to learn more about the very peculiar and endearing children introduced in the first book. I loved their vivid personalities, and the old-fashioned language with which they spoke. Each child has a different magical power. I loved the arguing and camaraderie among them, the way they sometimes disparaged each other’s gifts but mostly respected them, and were a family that stuck together, above all.
Since we’re talking about old photos, here is my mysterious photo. I purchased it in either New Mexico, or Guadalajara, Mexico. However, to my untrained eye, the church looks more like something found in India. I’m hoping someone more familiar with architecture can fill me in. It’s a little creepy to me simply because I don’t know where the photo was taken, but also because it seems like it’s about white ladies trying to forcibly convert brown-skinned people to Christianity. Conjecture, of course.
Finally, here is another photo of a distant relative of mine, the sorrowful William Turner. Doesn’t his face look like one of those optical illusions that if turned upside down would still look like a face?