Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Review: Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs

2016 • 160 pages • Penguin Books

A fork-tongued princess. A boy who can control the currents of the sea. Cannibals who feast on the limbs of a village of peculiars. These are just a few of the brilliant stories to be found in Tales of the Peculiar, all of which hold mystical information about the peculiar world  - a place familiar to many of us since its first introduction by Ransom Riggs in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The stories in this collection explore peculiar history and folklore in a wonderfully imaginative way, and also include some beautiful illustrations to accompany each of the tales.

Ransom Riggs has successfully created a selection of stories that manages to be both delightful but also educational. The stories and the world of the peculiars are of course fictional, but that doesn’t mean the morals of these tales lose any of their merit. At their core they explore ideas concerning fate and destiny, about finding love, the complexity of possessing a peculiar talent, fighting prejudice and sticking to your principles. Plus, they are thoroughly enjoyable to read! The writing style is sophisticated and thoughtful, with each story feeling more imaginative and quirky than the last.

If you enjoy reading classic fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm or Charles Perrault, then I’m sure you’ll take great delight in reading this collection. Tales of the Peculiar is full of macabre events but the stories are also injected with a brilliant, kind of deadpan humour, which I loved. It’s a magical collection of stories, but also thoughtful in its execution. I felt as though I was reading something truly different as I explored each of the tales, which is exactly what I want from a reading experience – to be surprised yet enchanted.

A couple of my favourites included The Splendid Cannibals, which tells the tale of a group of wealthy cannibals who feast of the discarded limbs of peculiar folk. It’s fantastically written and explores the consequences of how wealth can become corruptive. Another tale that stood out to me was  The Girl that Befriended Ghosts, which follows a young woman who can talk to ghosts and wishes to connect with the spirit folk who live in her house. Again, this was a lovely story that was both funny, yet heartfelt.

What’s more, you don’t need to have read Riggs’ original trilogy to enjoy these tales. I didn’t pick up Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children until after I finished this, but I didn’t enjoy it any less than a dedicated fan. If anything it made me want to explore the peculiar world more.

Overall rating: 5 stars

My copy of Tales of the Peculiar was sent to me by The Bookbag and my original review was published on their website.

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