Well here’s the last book of the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series. If you haven’t read my reviews of the first two books, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children and Hollow City, you may want to take a look at them before reading this one. Library of Souls picks up right where the last book left off, as will this review!
So at the end of Hollow City there was a pretty awesome series of events that led up to a cliffhanger I was incredibly impressed with. Even though I give a spoiler warning at the beginning of each review, I still felt like I had to spare spoiling what happened because it was probably the most exciting reveal in the series.
That was for Hollow City, though. Chances are you’ve read it if you’re reading a review for the next book. And since a huge portion of this book deals with this reveal, I’ve got to come clean with the spoiler.
Jacob can control hollows.
After finishing this series a week ago and giving myself some distance, it doesn’t exactly seem so impressive that I needed to hide it. But within the context of the story, it’s really, really cool. For two whole books we’ve been led to believe that the hollows are these mindless, terrifying monsters that only act on the behalf of the bad guys. And now Jacob’s abilities have evolved again, and he can share a mental bond with them. I don’t know, I think that’s really, really cool and fun and probably why this book was the most entertaining of the three.
Anyway, Hollow City left off with the bird the children had been carrying around all this time revealing itself to be not Miss Peregrine, but Caul, Miss Peregrine’s brother and leader of the wights. Most of the children and Miss Wren were taken away by wights, Addison (the amazing dog with goggles and pipe) arrives out of nowhere to save Jacob and Emma, and the book ends with a hollow cornering them only to reveal that it can understand and obey Jacob.
Jacob uses his newfound ability to have the hollow help them escape the wights. They eventually decide to try rushing into the wights’ home base directly to save their friends. It’s located in a lawless loop called Devil’s Acre, where peculiars are used and traded like prostitutes, a drug called ambrosia is used to temporarily enhance a person’s abilities and strength before leaving them addicted and craving more, and where most people basically live an oppressed, decaying lifestyle.
To get there, Jacob, Emma, and Addison enlist the help of a mysterious man called Sharon. He runs a small boat tour, but after discovering his relationship to the peculiar world, Jacob convinces him to take them to Devil’s Acre. He guides them deep into the loop and eventually teams up with them to find a way inside the wights’ fortress. After some searching, they arrive at the home of Bentham, Miss Peregrine’s other brother. Bentham lives in a particularly wealthy estate and has created a machine called the Panloopticon, which connects his loop to other loops throughout the world, including the one inside the wights’ fortress. However, it needs a hollow to work (still not sure why, to be honest). And while Jacob’s hollow has been tailing them this whole time, the residents of Devil’s Acre have captured it. It’s being held at this kind of underground gladiator-style ring where participants take ambrosia to try fighting the hollow as long as they can.
Jacob enters but refuses to take the drug. Instead, he mentally connects with the hollow and the two sort of stage a fight that’s supposed to be convincing enough not to raise suspicion. Unfortunately, Jacob hadn’t counted on a kid clean of ambrosia taking out a hollow was already suspicious enough, and they run into some trouble sneaking the hollow out. But they do, and they take it back to Bentham’s. He gets his machine working again, and Jacob and Emma sneak into the wights’ fortress.
Jacob and Emma eventually find their friends and after almost two books, finally reunite with Miss Peregrine. They escape back to Bentham’s, but Miss Peregrine is angry with him for creating hollows and wights in the first place, as well as tampering with Jacob’s grandfather’s soul, which caused him to lose his powers, encouraging his decision to leave pecuiliardom.
Perhaps it’s because of Miss Peregrine’s adamant decision to stay mad at Bentham even though he’s been trying to right his wrongs, but Bentham double-crosses Jacob and his friends and turns them over to Caul. With the Panloopticon working again, Caul takes Jacob, Emma, Miss Peregrine, and Bentham to the Library of Souls, a place where peculiar powers are stored in jars that no one can see except for those with the ability to do so.
I wonder who that could be.
Anyway, Jacob is forced to lead Caul down into the deepest parts of the Library until he finds the most extravagant power. When he does find it, he turns into a very boring, giant monster kind of thing you’d expect the villain from an animated Disney film to transform into at the end of the movie. And like said villains, Caul only lasts about five minutes in this form before he’s defeated.
Bentham, still wanting to redeem himself, takes some powers into himself and also transforms, leaving Jacob and the others to escape while the two monstrous brothers duke it out. Miss Peregrine and the other ymbrynes collapse the loop, destroying Caul and Bentham in the process.
With peculiardom saved, Jacob now needs to make the decision he’s been avoiding for the whole series (even though he already made it at the end of the first book): is he going to stay with Emma in the pecuilar world or go back home? Jacob still acts pretty wishy-washy about the whole situation, and in the end he and Emma sort of settle on being friends for now and to write each other letters until Jacob grows up a little.
When Jacob reunites with his parents, they’re extremely pissed that he’s been missing for so long. I kind of forget what exactly happens here, to be honest. With Jacob completely refusing to make up his mind about anything throughout the entire series, I don’t remember if Jacob tells his parents the truth about what happened (with Miss Peregrine and Emma backing him up) or if Miss Peregrine erases his parents’ memories of the whole thing and Jacob just continues his charade of being confused and depressed because of his grandfather’s passing, and he made up the peculiar stuff and they were all just imaginary friends.
Either way, he still gets letters from Emma until his parents intercept them and even go so far as to stop having the mail delivered to their home. Thinking that Jacob made up an imaginary girlfriend and is writing letters to himself, his parents decide to send him to some kind of treatment center. As they’re pulling out of the driveway, however, Emma, the peculiar children, and Miss Peregrine all miraculously show up and show off for Jacob’s parents, who are left speechless. Honestly, this whole final scene reminds me a lot of the James and the Giant Peach movie towards the end, when all the bugs come down and surprise the two evil aunts and give them their comeuppance.
If that wasn’t convenient enough, everyone’s internal clocks were reset when the loop holding the Library collapsed. Now Emma and everyone else will start living one day at a time, aging normally. She and Jacob can finally be together. Yay. ❤
Unfortunately, there’s not much more I can say about this book that I haven’t said about the previous two. It’s unfortunate that the peculiar children started developing more in Hollow City but are effectively missing throughout most of this book. It’s Jacob, Emma, and the new characters for most of this ride. Emma still remains awesome and has the most realistic personality of the bunch, and Jacob still remains as boring and main hero-ish as he ever was. The new characters were pretty interesting, too. I wouldn’t call Sharon or Bentham too complex, but they had more layers to them than most of the other characters in the series, and I appreciated that. Especially Bentham — I guess you could argue whether or not he was a villain. He seemed pretty torn and ultimately just wanted to right his mistakes, even if it meant betraying people.
Complexity is something I wish Caul had more of. He was introduced at the very end of Hollow City, so I can’t exactly blame him if being evil was his only thing. But he pretty much remains the bad guy for the sake of being the bad guy throughout Library of Souls, and I guess I was hoping we’d get to know him a little better. At the end of the day, this is a YA fantasy series. It’s going to boil down between good vs. evil. But still, I like complexity in literary characters. I wish the main bad guy of the series was layered a little more, just how I wish Jacob was, too.
Overall, though, this was a pretty fun series. I really had a great time reading through these three books. And it was nice reading a trilogy that hasn’t been totally hyped up by Barnes and Noble, a film adaptation (although one is already planned), and tons of merchandise flooding Hot Topic. Yet.
That being said, I felt like it fell short just enough to prevent me from really loving it. I think because at the end of the day, it’s a pretty standard adventure/fantasy/coming of age teen series that plays it safe when I wish it had taken more risks. I’ve already mentioned I wished there were more developed characters, but other things just felt off, too. For example, in the first book there were some parts of the story that seemed like Miss Peregrine was hiding some dark secrets about herself and seemed like she was tricking the peculiars into staying within the loop. And I guess you can ultimately say it was because of the threat the wights posed, but I don’t know. I was kind of led to believe she had a darker side and was disappointed this wasn’t really brought up again in the other two books.
The one peculiar, Enoch, was such a prick throughout the entire ride I’m still honestly shocked he didn’t betray anyone. Which makes me think how much more interesting the children would have been if there were some bigger arguments that led to either temporary or permanent separation. Maybe have Enoch join the wights. Maybe have one of the wights join up with the peculiars, either voluntarily or as a hostage.
I also had a beef with chapter length. I’ve bitched about this before and I’ll bitch about it again, but I don’t like long chapters. It’s not always easy to find a good breaking point if I need to stop in the middle of a long chapter to go to work or take a break or something. I’d rather have a bunch of smaller chapters that felt like they ended at good points in the story. So when Library of Souls is giving me chapters that last 40, even 50+ pages, it gets a little discouraging when I need to stop at an inconvenient location to do something else.
My personal issue with chapter length aside, I also think too much happens in each chapter for events to stand out as much as they could. Each chapter can take you through multiple locations, significant events, and character interactions that ultimately blend in too much simply because too much happens in one chapter. Thinking back, this may have contributed to why I had a difficult time remembering specific events in Hollow City. Each chapter could have easily been split up into two or three, and I think those events would have left more of an impression if they had. This chapter length issue is admittedly something I’ve had a little problem with since the first book, but I hate bringing it up because I feel like a whiny baby. But it got worse with each book, especially this one, and I thought I should just go ahead and bring it up for anyone that can only read a little at a time or has to squeeze reading into a tight schedule.
The photographs also continued to seem unnecessary. I still admire that Ransom Riggs wanted to blend a narrative with photos and I still think there’s a lot of potential there, but they still feel forced at many points in the story. There were some more interesting ones than the photos in Hollow City, mostly the pictures of people, but they still felt unneeded at many parts throughout the series.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the series was good and fun to read. I just… I don’t know. I guess I couldn’t help but think of other possible opportunities to improve the series as I was reading it. It really was fun, but if you’re interested in getting into the series yourself, maybe consider borrowing the first one from the library or a friend to get a feel if you’d like to go out and buy the books. I still think it’s worth the read, just maybe not worth the price of three hardcover copies.
Anyway, sorry this post took a little longer to get out. I hope you enjoyed reading it, and have a great weekend! 🙂
Info for my edition of Library of Souls:
- Published 2015 by Quirk Books
- Hardcover, 458 pages
- ISBN 978-1-59474-758-8