Like certain songs and smells can trigger memories, I feel like the books I read can help me remember certain instances from my childhood or similar reading experiences I may have had years ago. This book was one of those welcome triggers for me. It made me feel almost childlike again, captivated by an exciting world I had yet to discover.
As I began reading, I wasn’t sure what to expect other than what I had read from the synopsis years prior and the clips I had seen on the previews for the new movie. It looked interesting, and I had heard it compared to Harry Potter. Of course, I was instantly sold.
The beginning of the novel started slow for my taste, but eventually became more interesting. However, the more dull aspects of the beginning of the story are essential to understanding the plot as it develops. The book is narrated by Jacob, a sixteen year old boy, who has a somewhat unconventional and close relationship to his grandfather. When he finds his grandfather in a precarious position that ultimately results in his death, Jacob begins to question all of the stories he heard growing up from his dear grandfather. Surely they were not all fantasy. Was his grandfather crazy? Shortly after his grandfather’s demise, Jacob’s parents begin to worry about his mental state. Jacob suggests visiting an island in Wales that his grandfather had mentioned living on when he was an orphan, to uncover more details about his mysterious stories. Once Jacob arrives, he begins exploring, eventually finding a portal into the past. A past full of Peculiar Children and a peculiar world Jacob could never have imagined.
This novel is like an intriguing mixture of Harry Potter and Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. If you can’t figure out how to completely opposite stories combine into one, you must get to reading! I loved this story in the end, and gave it four Goodreads stars for the slow start. One of my favorite things from this novel was the pictures Ransom Riggs incorporated. He uses real, mostly unaltered vintage photographs collected from Flea Markets and various places to show the peculiarity of the fictional characters he describes. It was a unique and excellent way to bring a fantasy world to life for his readers. I also enjoyed the World War II aspect of the story, as that part of history fascinates me!
I was enthralled with Riggs’ debut novel, and cannot wait to dive into Hollow City to see how the story develops. I will be shocked if it doesn’t live up to my expectations, after hearing great things about it. Keep an eye out for my review to come. I typically do not enjoy reviewing sequels or books in series, because of spoilers, but I will make an exception this time.
I’m anxious to watch the movie, too! If you’ve seen it, what did you think?