A Map of Days, by Ransom Riggs

9780735231498.jpgThis is the fourth of Riggs’ books about Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, and the first in a new story series.

Peculiars are people with extraordinary abilities, who in other story genres would be portrayed as superheroes.

Jacob Portman has recently discovered his own “peculiar” abilities and with a group of other peculiars, travelling though time and place, helped put an end to an existential threat to their kind.

He has now returned home, and is rescued from an attempt to commit him to a psych facility by the unexpected appearance of Miss Peregrine and her peculiar wards.

In this book Jacob begins to learn more about the grandfather whose death led him to find Miss Peregrine and sets out to follow in his footsteps, seeking out and rescuing isolated peculiars across America. He gradually finds himself out of his depth, potentially compromising fragile treaties between various peculiar clans.

Riggs’ first book was an attention getter from the beginning, attested by the fact that Gloria read it before I did – and she is not a keen reader, and will only stick with something if it is immediately (and continues to be) compelling from the first page or two.

In my opinion there is a significant pacing problem with this book. I know it would be a waste of time for Gloria to start it.
It has a very slow build up as it moves from the events of the past books into a new situation and new challenges. I was about three quarters into the book before I felt it picking up any momentum, and then it began to move from one breathless crisis to another.

Riggs continues a practice that was quite effective in his first book. He is a collector of old photographs, and he was able to cleverly weave some of his collection into the book, illustrating some of the peculiar characters, and at times using others to develop settings and plot points.

In the following books, and particularly in this one, I started to find the photo use becoming forced, intrusive and increasingly gratuitous.

Throughout A Map of Days I felt that I probably wouldn’t be interested enough to continue with the series after this one – the next installment is due early next year – and it was only in the last chapter or two that I started to feel interested enough to want to see what happens next. By then it became obvious I was heading for a cliffhanger ending to be resolved/continued in that next book. At this stage I’m still not sure whether I’d want to continue the journey.