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Most peculiar

riggs_tales-of-the-peculiarFans of the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series will recognize the title Tales of the Peculiar; it’s the book of folktales read aloud by protagonist Jacob and his fellow peculiar children in the trilogy. In the same vein as J.K. Rowling’s Tales of Beedle the Bard, Ransom Riggs’s new collection Tales of the Peculiar (Dutton, September 2016) offers readers a peek into the stories “traditionally told” in the series’ fantastical world.

Instead of the old photographs found in the original books, these stories are enhanced by Andrew Davidson’s illustrations in the style of woodcuts, which are slightly less eerie than the photos and lend a centuries-old feel. The tales themselves have eeriness to spare: the fortuitous meeting of wealthy cannibals with peculiars who grow their limbs back; arsonist pigeons; a girl who can capture nightmares; the first ymbryne and how it created the first protective time loop. How the peculiars make their way in the world despite rejection — to variously morbid and happy ends — is a theme throughout the stories.

This collection of the stories is presented as an abridged version “edited and annotated by” Millard Nullings, an invisible boy who is the series’ resident peculiar expert. Millard’s notes containing pertinent facts and history, and a touch of humor, pop up throughout the stories. My personal favorite: “Dancing Plague killed millions, but its victims invented the fox-trot, the Charleston, and the cha-cha slide. So, a mixed bag.” This conceit extends to a faux copyright page (which states, among other peculiar-centric information and credits, “Vigilantly proofread by the two heads and five eyes of Patricia Panopticot.”) and an author biography and photo.

For fans of the Peculiar Children series and/or folk- and fairy tales, the collection offers a darkly entertaining read. But be warned: this book is “for peculiar eyes only.” Read on with caution.

Tales of the Peculiar was published on September 3rd, in celebration of Loop Day — and just in time for the movie adaptation’s release on September 30th.

For more on books-within-books being published in our reality, see Shoshana Flax’s “I Never Met a Fiction I Didn’t Like: Characters Creeping into Reality, from the March Sisters to Simon Snow.”

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