Enter the peculiar children, their elusive caretaker, and learn about the world they are trapped in. Alongside that, learn about a romance still held in a young girl’s heart, a 46-year-old man still finding himself, and the truth about grandpa Abe.
Chapter Summary (with Commentary)
Chapter 3 – 36 hours, 3 planes, two layovers, one train, and a ferry ride
Being that Cairnholm island isn’t really a tourist destination, naturally, it is a pain in the neck to get to. Though, oh, once you get there, you’ll see why it is a pain in the neck – it is a dying island. It is explained to as the type of place governments have long stopped investing in, when it comes to modernization, and that can be seen with the town basically running on diesel generators and many of the homes, after WWII likely, still in disrepair. Add on the town only really has one place to rent a room, as well as one landline phone, and you can understand why when the youth leave for college or other opportunities, then don’t seem to come back.
But as for Jacob, he isn’t there for a vacation. He is there to find Ms. Peregrine, assuming she is still alive. The problem with this is, she is more than likely on the other side of the island. Then, to make matters worse, while the nightmares are gone, and Frank pretty much leaves Jacob to his own devices, Jacob’s escort Dylan guides him to a house which is full of sheep excrement. Then, when he finds the real house, pretty much it looks like nature has taken over. I mean, the way the house is described makes it sound like it hasn’t been touched in decades and is the product of what happens when humans don’t interfere with nature. So, needless to say after all that, without a soul stirring and the house in such a shape that going through it seems dangerous and scary, Jacob leaves it disappointed.
Chapter 4 – September 3rd, 1940
With the house revealing nothing, Jacob is a bit deterred, but he hasn’t given up. So comes the question of what his father may know, of which the answer is nothing. You see, Jacob and Abraham were far closer to each other than Frank and Abe were. Part of the reason being, Abe just decided to never tell Frank anything. He was just someone who came and went and with Frank finding a letter from a woman stashed away, it seems Grandpa Abe was having an affair. So, between the cheating and not even sharing ¼ of the stories Abe has told Jacob, on top of an incident which happened on Halloween, he eventually stopped caring. Abe was a father by title and not by actions, hence the indifference showed when he and his sister were throwing out his things.
Yet, the same can’t be said for Jacob. This man was damn near everything to him and his absence has left dreams, nightmares, and an unshakeable mystery that Jacob has traveled over an ocean to solve. One which can’t simply be Grandpa revealing he had a mistress. Granted, hardly a thing is said about his grandmother, even in the later chapters, but could the one good male figure in Jacob’s life be so rotten enough to cheat on his wife?
Well, between the house being a dead end and that tidbit of information, Jacob, more than ever, is pushed toward finding someone, anyone, who may have information. After all, yeah the 1940s were around 70 years ago, depending what year this book takes place, but surely there has to be someone who knows the town’s history right? Enter the museum. There we find a 2700+-year-old being and meet Martin Pegett, the museum’s curator. He, alongside Uncle Oggie, who is 83, present a vivid picture of grandpa’s life.
Now, as we already know, Grandpa Abe was a jew from Poland, one which escaped, alone, before the holocaust ended the life of his family. The tragedy doesn’t end there, though. He may have escaped the Nazis in Poland, but they came for him in Cairnholm. Not him specifically, of course, but during the raids a bomb was dropped. One which destroyed the house of Miss Peregrine and her children. Of which, according to Uncle Oggie, were a bunch of people considered standoffish and subject to some nasty rumors. Of what in particular? Well, such information wasn’t given. Either way, once more, Grandpa Abe was the sole survivor.
With this, it seems anything Jacob could have learned was either destroyed by a bomb, consumed by nature or, who knows, maybe it could have been stolen or maybe now in some dumpster back in Florida. But then something special happens. A peregrine appears in Jacob’s window and with this, he is reminded of his grand father’s last words about finding the bird. So, with his wavering faith back toward being adventurous, he decides to head for the house.
Chapter 5 – Back to The Past (September 3rd, 1940 To Be Exact)
All alone little Jacob heads back to the house and not a creature is peering at him. All that remains is a house with creaky boards, a tree relaxing onto it, and Jacob trying to figure out what his grandpa wanted him to see. What is this 70 some odd year hurt, trapped away in his grandpa’s mind and heart that he wants his grandson to learn about? Well, it isn’t found in the classroom, nor in the halls, but one room has a chest. A chest with a lock even time couldn’t break so Jacob decides to break it by force. Which doesn’t work well until he sends it down to the basement. There it opens and he finds two things in the basement. More pictures like grandpa had and then a slew of organs. Leading to the idea that as much as Miss Peregrine could have been a teacher, maybe she was harvesting these children too? Could it be grandpa got out while he still could?
Well, before there is enough time to really hypothesize that question, so comes footsteps and a fire. A girl it seems, it had to be judging by the voice. She runs and Jacob chases her. He chases her through the forest, into a cave, or rather a cairn if you go by what Martin calls it , and then comes the questions. First and foremost, was she just a figment of his imagination? Maybe a stress reaction? Well, these are but the first set of questions for what follows is him heading to the hotel and being treated as a spy. Then comes the girl from before with a knife in hand who wants answers. Starts questioning if he is this thing called a “wight” and while Jacob keeps saying no, she never fully believes him. However, time is of the essence so she takes him like a captive back to the house. Leading us to learn that they are in a loop. A time loop.
Chapter 6 – Introducing Ms. Alma Peregrine
Being that it is 1940 the house isn’t as explained in the past. It looks brilliant in its state and with Jacob being a foreigner allowed to the house, all the children seem to be showing off. Be it the girl who levitates, who seemingly is going to be our Emma in the movie version of this, or another girl who can make plants bend to her will, everyone is showing what they can do. But what really matters here is Miss Peregrine, the sole person who can provide some answers. Though this isn’t to say Ms. Peregrine isn’t without some questions herself. Well, at least a confirmation anyway.
But before we go into their conversation, let us note the girl who had a knife to Jacob is Emma, someone who had a crush on Abe when he was Jacob’s age. There was also a boy involved with saving Jacob when he arrived in the past and his name is Milford. Emma has the power to create fires in her hand and Millford, plain and simple, is invisible, if naked. Which seemingly is the state he is often in which gives me pause. If only because of how neat and clean Miss Peregrine likes things.
Their introductions aside, what Jacob gives Miss Peregrine, in terms of information, is a confirmation of his grandfather’s death, which Emma overhears. What Miss Peregrine gives Jacob though, well he gets just a taste. She gives a brief background of peculiars ranging to when they were praised to ran off by every major religion, including pagans. She also notes their powers are diverse and can be anything from reading thoughts, which she makes seem the most common peculiarity, to manipulating time. Something only she, and perhaps a few ymbrynes, have the power to do.
Now, you maybe wonder, what is a ymbryne? Well, these are rare peculiar women who both have the ability to manipulate time and transform into a bird. To Miss Peregrine’s knowledge, there are but 6 others and one of their main duties are keeping time loops in existence for the sake of protecting peculiar children. Though at times, it seems in times of peril, like World War II, they may protect a commoner or two.
With said information, it becomes clear that these would be children, who look anywhere from 12 and beyond, are grandpa’s age. Yet, they have a Peter Pan mentality. They are both physically and mentally stunted, and stuck in their current state forever thanks to the loop. However, it should be noted, they maintain their memories over the “changeover” which is the moment when the loop both begins and ends.
Leading to the end of the chapter where a real peculiarity shows itself: Is Jacob falling for the same girl his grandpa did? Much less, is grandpa’s ex falling for him? I mean, after 70 years you’d hope she move on but, as we learn, there aren’t much in the way of options. On top of that, she didn’t really get the chance for closure. Yet, with knowing Abe is gone, Jacob is the closest thing she may have to him so she makes up with him and they hug.
But while things end cool between those two, problems arise between Frank and Jacob. Though with a phone call to Dr. Golan, who seems a tad bit too helpful, things quiet down once more. At least until morning.
Chapter 7 – Meet The Gang
With Jacob just showing up comes a lot of people rather curious, though no one is more curious than Frank about what his boy is planning to do all day. Especially with Jacob saying he is going to meet some friends. Luckily, though, once again, being that Frank isn’t the type of parent to peer over their kid’s shoulder every chance he gets, Jacob gets quite a long leash.
One which allows him to spend the entire day with Emma, who increasingly is becoming a crush Jacob cannot ignore. Not just because of how sweet she is being on him, taking his hand to guide him to the house once he is out the cairn, and then pinching him when he talks too much, but… well, you’ll see.
Anyway, when it comes to Jacob’s time in the past, it is mostly about introductions through the act the children used to do when Miss Peregrine would show off the children, or rather show the children the world. We learn of Browyn, a girl who is quite strong; Fiona, a wild-haired girl who has a talent for manipulating plant life; Horace, who has prophetic dreams which, when it comes to nightmares, often can come true; and we learn that Miss Peregrine, like a handful of shapeshifters, doesn’t get to maintain her clothes when she transforms. Not something necessarily important to the story, true, but it is worth noting for it implies she doesn’t take the state often for it is bound to leave her vulnerable.
That aside, overall the day goes well and Jacob is really starting to give into the feelings he has for Emma. He even offers her to come hang out on his side of the world. However, this is slightly rejected. Though the reason for this is explained in the next chapter. As of now, all Jacob really should worry about is the death of all these sheep in the present, of which he is a suspect for, though doesn’t get taken down for being part of.
Oh, and lest I forget, Jacob reveals a lot about the future to the kids which quite excites some of them. Which is after him slightly downplaying it in the past. Something Miss Peregrine appreciates, him downplaying the future, for keeping a bunch of kids and teens stuck to an island is a rather hard task. Especially with it soon being a century of them stuck there.
Chapter 8 – The Truth Comes Out
There are a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children. Most of which no one really wants to give an answer to, at least not out in the open. Such as the question dealing with what happens if the kids decided to leave the loop? Well, if they leave the island they would age normally of course. However, going through the cairn would mean they would rapidly age. Making Jacob’s reveal of the future quite unfortunate when it comes to Miss Peregrine trying to make the future seem, possibly, as bad as the present outside her little protective dome.
Yet, even with him chastised, he isn’t necessarily in trouble. Just made aware. Though that isn’t the only thing he is made aware of. Enter Enoch, a person capable of reanimating anything, or even bringing inanimate things like clay to life. He introduces Victor. Someone who grew tired of being stuck in the loop and sought freedom, but died because of it. Yet, due to the loop, he isn’t able to truly rot and die. In fact, on a rare occasion, Enoch does bring him back. The problem with that is, as life returns so does the pain which caused death. So to take someone from the afterlife and bring them back, it not only strains Enoch but is torture for the revived. I should note, though, Miss Peregrine never got over Victor’s death and wears black every day because of it.
On a lighter, yet still depressing note, we learn of who the other woman was in Abe’s life: Emma. Well, Miss Peregrine I’m sure was mistaken for a mistress too, but Emma sent far more letters. The first came after he left to fight in World War II, and she continued for years. Some of the letters were sent in hope of him returning, the others in hope that maybe, after he left for America, he would send for her, but ultimately he found a common girl, had children and left Emma with nothing but a broken heart. Which, when you really think about it, is quite heartbreaking. Perhaps the only boy she could really fall in love with took his love away and left so far she could never reach him. After all, what money does she have, what talents? Yes, Miss Peregrine has been doing lessons with them for who knows how long, but what good would that do her? Then, on top of that, lest we forget there is nothing said about peculiars not going through puberty. So imagine being a girl Emma’s age, which is around 16 or 17, and desiring love and affection, finding it in one boy, and he leaves. Then, on top of that, you think you have a long distance relationship perhaps, but then you get a letter of him with his kid. I mean, to keep me from repeating myself, if you factor everything Emma has been through, it is of little surprise she is falling for Jacob. He is her second chance in many ways to have what Abe, sort of, took from her. For not only does he probably look like Abe but gives her a chance to maybe move on. Though, you have to wonder, did Miss Peregrine ever try to hide any of the letters? Much less, where were these letters sent to since the house, in the future, is destroyed.
Moving onto our last depressing topic, Frank. With another bird watcher coming to town, who has to be a waith since they feel due about now (and the dude is weird – like eats raw meat weird), he is greatly discouraged. With that comes Jacob informing us his dad is a 46-year-old still finding himself. He has a BA in Asian languages but has yet to touch anywhere on the Asian continent; could have opened a bird store with his sister, but lost the energy for it; and honestly, with all we are told about Frank, and the comment his wife gave earlier, you can only assume Frank’s popularity when he was Jacob’s age is the reason she gave Frank the time of day.
To end things on a cute note, though, outside of being watched by the would-be waith, Jacob ends up having one hell of a night. One in which Jacob has a romantic rendezvous with Emma in a shipwreck where they make out and he officially develops a full, unyielding, crush. Yet there comes the question, now that things are getting serious to the point of her asking him to stay, could he just be a replacement for his grandpa? Does she just want someone of her own to make out with, maybe do other things with? This is the question in Jacob’s mind and it flies out his mouth. But then Emma reveals he belongs with them for he, like Abe, is peculiar. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to pass through the loops. Now, as for what is Jacob’s peculiarity? Well, it is seeing monsters.
- We finally meet Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children, of which there honestly doesn’t seem as many as you’d thought. But with a smaller number means, we do get enough time for everyone to establish who they are, what their peculiarity is, and give us some sense of their personality. Well, at least when it comes to a handful of the children, some not mentioned in this recap.
- Miss Peregrine seems made for Eva Green.
- Emma and Jacob, despite her dating her exes’ grandson, seem rather cute. To elaborate, things were handled where you can get past the weirdness, and outright creepiness, of them being together, making out, and perhaps developing a relationship.
- Though the man himself is outright depressing, I thought it was nice we got a rush of details about the dad. If only because, often in young adult novels similar to this, the child goes on an adventure and parents become a mystery or just remain one. So with what we learn about Frank, it makes him seem more real. Granted, we don’t know much about how he attracted Jacob’s mom or what was he doing when he likely peaked in high school, but baby steps. Baby steps.
- One thing I feel is sometimes missing in books like these, which contain a fantasy or sci-fi element, is backstory. Now, in further chapters, Miss Peregrine goes further, but I liked that thus far she has begun explaining who she and her fellow ymbrynes are, what they do, how they qualify, and things of that nature. It gives you the impression their world didn’t just appear but is based off rules, order, and precedents. Also, it allows us into Jacob’s thought process of entering this almost other dimension after living a normal life so long.
- I also liked the idea that there were those who weren’t necessarily fine with being in the time loop. After all, 70 years of the same people, same events, and forever being a child? Who would want such a Peter Pan life?
Do you ever feel like young adult novels shouldn’t have it be mandatory that the lead must get into a relationship? Is that the only way to prove they are cool, attractive, or the hero? Must they have a girl or guy? I mean, come on. Much less, they are the lead’s grandpa’s ex? A girl who had no means to move on, if she even wanted to? Despite the cuteness, I can imagine on screen, something about this gives me pause.
On The Fence
Is it wrong that I think it is weird that after 70 some odd years, these people still think like children? Granted, I wasn’t a biology or psych major in college, so I don’t know how much time moving forward affects us mentally, but considering everyone keeps their memories, you’d think they would mentally age.