Book Review: Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

hollow-city

The first novel in the series, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, was a unique and darkly whimsical combination of vintage photographs and fantasy. In Hollow City Riggs continues the established formula with similar, if less engaging, results.

The story picks up where the first novel left off and makes its way through war-torn London and beyond. This is a chance to see how the mythology of peculiars fits into the larger world, and more importantly, to develop the characters. Outside of the main two characters, Jacob and Emma, the first novel had largely been content to let the photographs do the bulk of characterization and left the other Peculiar Children as little more than sketches. Riggs rectifies this almost immediately, and this time the novel spends almost its entire duration with the children. The effect of living lifetimes yet still being in children’s bodies is more fully explored. Likewise, having established the world, Riggs is free to expand the plot outwards, in a number of set pieces, but this remains the weakest aspect of the novels.

The photographs return in all their dark and weird glory, but they are not integrated quite as organically as in the first. Partially because in the original novel this was a unique and integral part of the book’s construction, whereas in Hollow City it is an expected part of the established formula. The novelty is gone, and I wonder if it will have increasingly diminished returns as the series progresses.

Despite being a minor disappointment, Hollow City is a well-written sequel that expands the world building and the characters, and ends on a cliffhanger sure to bring readers back for the continuing adventures. Enjoyable but flawed.

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