The short: 3.5/5 ✦. A not quite perfect but still satisfying and fascinating conclusion to the unique Peculiar Children trilogy.
I don’t quite remember what happened in the previous books (pretty sad since I just read them in March), and that was a slight problem since Library of Souls picks up immediately after the ending of Hollow City. There’s very little catching-up exposition, which makes me think that these novels are definitely intended to be binge-read as a cohesive whole, rather than a separated trilogy. Having said that, though, Library of Souls is beautifully written, easily featuring the best writing out of the three books. Riggs doesn’t waste time with explaining every motivation for every character, he trusts that we’ll get it just because of who they are as people.
That is, with one exception: Emma.
All three books are told in first-person POV from Jacob’s perspective. We know his thoughts and only his thoughts. And yet, we get quite a lot of speculation about what Emma is thinking and feeling and her motivations and actions and – well, it’s a little irritating, because Jacob shouldn’t be able to assume all that (or just plain shouldn’t assume in general). I get that we’re supposed to root for their romance, but we know Emma is awesome and brave and will do the right thing no matter what, because of her actions, not because Jacob (or even Miss Peregrine) keeps telling us so.
I’m probably just nit-picking, though.
Library of Souls is pretty unrelentless in its plot – where Hollow City had both slow and fast parts, this third installment hits the ground running and doesn’t stop until stumbling to the end. I say that because there’s literally no way Riggs could have pleased everyone with the conclusion. There are very few options that would be realistic (in the scope of this peculiar world) and still satisfying. I don’t think it quite hits the mark, but it was a much better attempt than I was expecting.
The photographs are naturally the most unique aspects of this series (allowing for a lovely dense hardback), and though Riggs abandoned trying to incorporate the pictures naturally as he did in the first book, here it’s not as clumsily handled as it was in the second. They act much more like illustrations, as if instead of actual vintage photos, they were specifically created for the book, and it works quite well.
I think I was a little iffy on Jacob’s powers at first, since they seemed awfully convenient, but this is explained satisfactorily, as well as a few other perhaps questionable plot choices from the series as a whole. Nothing eye-rolling, at any rate. The
Nobodies wights and Heartless hollows are less prominent threats, focusing more on the ultimate threat of losing peculiars and peculiardom.
Talking in more detail would probably be spoilery, so I’ll simply conclude by saying that despite earlier reservations, I ended up quite enjoying this series and would recommend it highly. It’s not perfect, but Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children is certainly unique and at least lives up to its hype, if not exceeding it.
Header image: Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs, published September 22nd 2015 by Quirk Books