Vintage ‘found’ photos of weird children were the inspiration for this book. It’s unusual for a novel to include photographs. This is the creepiest element of the book and I think gives a misleading impression of what the story is about.
The narrator is 16-year-old Jacob, who gets drawn into a mystery involving monsters, ‘peculiar’ children and his grandfather’s life. He’s a great character, intelligent, witty and brave. It’s a coming of age story because he really grows up along the way, finding friends and facing his demons. I have to say, based upon the title and photos, I thought this was going to be horror or supernatural fiction. It turned out to be less dark than I anticipated and after the first few chapters was not frightening at all. I would class it as fantasy. I liked the pacing, the humour and the ideas. However, my interest in the story lessened towards the end and I probably won’t read the other books in the series.
I think the novel is categorised as YA, due to the ages of the characters and the themes, but it’s one of those crossover books which adults enjoy too. It’s interesting to have more of a visual element to the book. Ultimately it didn’t deliver on its promise of weirdness, which got increasingly sidetracked by storylines about romance and friendship.
First published in 2011.