Review: Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

DSCF1428Not too long ago I read Hollow City, the follow up book to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As you can see from my review here, I absolutely loved this book, and was carried away by the nostalgic childhood adventures it reminded me of reading. With the book ending on a cliff hanger, I wasted little time in getting my hands on the third and final book in the trilogy, Library of Souls.

Library of Souls again follows the peculiar children, namely Jacob and Emma, as they attempt to fight back against the Wights and free their fellow friends and Ymbrynes from a heavily guarded fortress. Continuing on from the end of the previous book, we follow Jacob as he explores the depths of his peculiar abilities, pushing the boundaries of his power in the hopes of saving Peculiardom. Yet the road to freedom is never easy, and to save their friends they must first travel through a nightmare completely of its own; Devil’s Acre, a time loop stuck in the desolate slums of Victorian England, a place where the Wights and Hallowgast’s are firmly in control.

Ransom Riggs has a brilliant way of picking up the threads of the previous novel. He is able to maintain a careful balance in which he does not waste time rehashing previous events, yet allows readers to once more immerse themselves seamlessly back into this world. We find Jacob, Emma and Addison still left in the perils of the Hollows, with the novel immediately accelerating through the plot. Even with the terror in which we find our main characters, there is no disconnect between the events in the last book and our thoughts about them.

One of the things which I praised so joylessly in the previous book was the fantastic use of imagination. I will admit that I was slightly worried whether the author would be able to maintain this, but it was soon proved that I had no reason to fear. Looking at it in hindsight, I think both the last and the second book are pretty equal where this is concerned, with both of them working on the foundations built in the first book. What I will say is that the imagination found within this one takes the darkest tone we have seen yet; a maturing which reflects the characters themselves. We still have just as many vivid and strange encounters, but they are mostly played out against the backdrop of the evil Devil’s Acre. Without giving too much away, Devil’s Acre is the lowest of the low, a place where Peculiar gifts are seen as a commodity, and quite often a delicacy . . .

I think the strength of this book lies in the ways in which it explores the peculiar world in even greater detail. The world that Riggs have created is really incredible, and with each successive book he has managed to reach greater heights which build on what has come before. In this book, we learn more about the loops, the abilities peculiars can have, and so much more. The thing which I really enjoyed however was the way in which Jacob’s ability to see and connect with Hollows is finally explored. It was not only enjoyable but extremely interesting, and led to a path in which the nightmarish Hollows are viewed in a much different light. It not only looks at the morals concerning the Hollows and the fact that they were previously people, but also the morals of how they themselves are treated by peculiars. Should they be terrorised, as they have terrorised others, or pitied? It was a complex line of thought which I really enjoyed thinking more about.

The pacing of the last book is fantastic. As always there is something exciting going on, with the plot being a very central part of the novel. The characters thankfully do not suffer because of this, and they are just as present as they ever have been. Reading this book, I was left with the feeling that the author was building to something, that a grand culminating event was just waiting to occur, and with this being the final book in the series, I was not wrong.  The world which Riggs has painted for us is extremely vivid, but I do not think this is entirely down to the photos which Riggs has used. Obviously this multimedia technique is a central part of the books, and what makes the series so interesting, but I think it would be doing a disservice to the author to discredit his own imagination and writing abilities. He has a way of writing which is very comfortable, and this is heightened by the use of the strange and unusual photos.

As much as I would love to discuss the ending of the book, and the series as whole, I do not want to spoil anything for any new readers. What I will say is that the loose ends are neatly tied, leaving me with a smile on my face. Having said that, there was a certain question which was left burning in my mind concerning what happened to a particular hollow. If anyone has any theories about this, please share them with me!

Having reached the end of the series, I can only praise the endless supply of imagination with which Riggs is able to write. Each successive book improved not only in its creativity, but also in the interest which it was able to instill in me. As brilliant as these books are for a younger audience, they are equally as enthralling for an adult one. I leave the Peculiar world which a heart which is saddened at the parting , but lightened by the cumulative result.

Has anyone else read the entire series? What did you think of the last book?

Publisher: Quirk

Rating: 5*/5*



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