Sunday, July 31, 2011


Through the years, Jacob has spent quite a bit of time with his grandfather.  He remembers all the stories the old man used to tell; some of them complete with an assortment of odd photographs.  The stories involved unusual children with strange abilities.  When Jacob was younger, the stories were like fairy tales filled with mystery and intrigue.  As time passed, Jacob just viewed them as the ravings of a lonely old man.

When Jacob's grandfather was found dead in the woods behind his home, the bizarre circumstances have everyone wondering.  It appears that the old man suffered from some sort of animal attack.  After discovering his grandfather's mutilated body, Jacob believes he sees the creature responsible for the man's death.  The glimpse he gets of the terrible creature results in recurring nightmares and withdrawal.  Jacob's parents insist that he begin therapy with Dr. Golan.

As Jacob shares his memories of Grandpa Portman and his odd stories, Dr. Golan suggests a trip to the island Jacob's grandfather called home.  Raised in an orphanage there, he left to become a soldier in WW II.  The doctor believes Jacob might find someone there who knew his grandfather and perhaps he could find some sort of closure that would bring relief from the nightmares and allow him to move on.

Jacob and his father arrive on the tiny island off the coast of Wales, and the real adventure begins.  While his father occupies himself with bird watching, Jacob explores the bombed-out orphanage where he discovers the true history of his grandfather's old photographs.  He learns that the people in those strange, old photos really existed, and that the oddities pictured were indeed accurate representations of these peculiar children.

Author Ransom Riggs has created a truly unique novel.  Readers will immediately relate to Jacob as he experiences his grandfather's tragic death, his frightening nightmares, and his desire to understand the forces behind them.  The strange stories and the children with paranormal abilities are brought to life with the inclusion of the black and white photos.  I found myself reading quickly and anxiously awaiting the next peculiar illustration.  Riggs ends Jacob's story in a way that opens the possibility for a return visit.

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