A review by Hannah.
Growing up, Grandpa Portman was the most fascinating person Jacob knew. He had lived in an orphanage, fought in wars, performed in circuses, knew everything about guns, surviving in the wild, and spoke at least 3 languages that weren’t English. Jacob was raised on stories of his grandfather growing up with an invisible boy, a floating girl, a giant hawk that smokes a pipe and more. One day he let his grandfather know that he liked the fairy tales, but he was beginning to feel like he was being lied to. After that the stories stopped. Some years later a horrific family tragedy sends Jacob to his grandfather’s orphanage on a remote island in Wales. What he finds on that island will change everything.
This is a combination book/photo album. Sprinkled throughout the book are black and white vintage photos. The author began collecting loose vintage photos and was intrigued by the ones depicting children. They were often the most mysterious photos and he wanted to know the stories behind them. Sadly the photos were anonymous, so he made the stories up. He does this masterfully. Each photo enhances the story and concretely shows the reader what some of the characters look like.
I really liked this book. The storytelling is authentic, the characters are original, and the word “peculiar” is used! Peculiar is one of my favorite words. It’s not a forceful word like weird and it’s a more distinct word than odd. “Peculiar” has a very British feel to it, which lends a very proper air to the book, but it’s not so proper that it detracts from the tale of a teenager trying to piece together the mysteries of his grandfather.
The only negative thing I can say about this book is that I was very impatient to meet the peculiar children. There are only non-peculiar children and adults for the first third of the book. I am greatly looking forward to the sequel, Hollow City, and the movie they are making from this book.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
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