“Because we weren’t like other people. We were peculiar.”
“Oh, all sorts of ways,” he said. “There was a girl who could fly, a boy who had bees living inside him, a brother and sister who could lift boulders over their heads.”
I picked up this book because it looked like a spooky yet entertaining read. Although the cover resembles something out of the Exorcist or the Ring, it leads you to believe it is much scarier than it actually is. This book is in no way a horror story, it is a fantasy novel about a boy trying to figure out who his grandfather (and then who he himself) really is. There were no aspects to this story I would say were ‘scary’, so don’t be fooled, you’ll smile more than you’ll scream.
Jacob was enthralled by his Grandpa Portman’s stories of peculiar children in the orphanage where he grew up. He marveled at the photographs of the invisible boy and the levitating girl. Now as an teen he feels cheated because he believes the stories were a lie and the photographs were just tricks. Then his grandfather is killed by a creature unlike anything Jacob has ever seen. His death sets Jacob off on an adventure to figure out if his grandfather’s stories are true. He travels to the island and the orphanage to try to learn about the past. When all he finds is a destroyed house full of dust, decay and those old odd photographs showing the children who died so many years ago, Jacob is dismayed. But as he explores the rotting floors and abandoned bedrooms, he discovers something more. Did they really die? Jacob soon realizes that the children are, peculiarly, still alive and looking exactly like they did in his grandfather’s photographs.
I was delighted by this book, it was diverting and just a little bit uncanny. The characters are unique, even Jacob who at the beginning is a typical young adult in an adventure novel. He doesn’t have a lot of friends and he isn’t sure where he fits in so when he is asked to leave it all behind, he jumps at the chance. The island is the perfect setting for a slightly spooky escapade, full of fog, bogs and mysterious cranky townsfolk. Then when Jacob stumbles upon the secret of his grandfather’s history, we are introduced to a whole new realm of otherwordly characters, magic and adventure.
In addition to the book’s eccentric plot, the photographs that are part of Jacob’s story are also included for us to see. I especially enjoyed in the acknowledgements when the author explained that all photographs were real vintage snapshots.
It almost makes you wonder.