As a child Jacob’s grandfather Abe, a World War II veteran and Jewish refugee, would tell him stories from his own childhood featuring flesh eating monsters and children with the most peculiar abilities.
Jacob as he grows older becomes sceptical of his grandfather’s childhood tales. Even though Abe shows his grandson a cigar box fill of old photographs as proof Jacob challenges Abe that his stories are fiction. Abe chooses never to mention the stories again.
After Jacob finds his grandfather dying with chest wounds from a mysterious attack, Abe tells Jacob ‘Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man’s grave. September third, 1940’. What does this mysterious message mean? Even more did Jacob really just glimpse one of the monsters from his grandfather’s stories in the moonlight?
Following his grandfather’s death Jacob finds a letter postmarked from Cairnholm Island addressed to his grandfather from Ms Alma LeFay Peregrine.
Jacob tries to convince his parents to let him go to Cairnholm Island, off the coast of Wales, for the summer. Jacob’s psychiatrist Dr. Golan approves of the idea, so Jacob and his father set off. While there Jacob explores the island and searches for answers about his grandfather’s past.
Riggs initially envisioned his debut novel as a picture book. He was encouraged by his editor to use the photographs to guide the narrative and it really works. Each picture is perfectly selected and adds to the story.
The vintage black and white photographs are quirky photos the author collected and from the collection of other collectors.
The novel has been followed by two sequels Hollow City (2014) and Library of Souls (2015).
A film version directed by Tim Burton opened last month. It includes a stellar cast including Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Chris O’Dowd, Alison Janney, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp, Judi Dench and Samuel L. Jackson.