The Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

Peculiars are being hunted down, taken hostage and their souls devoured. But there is a solution- capture the man who is leading this brutal movement. In the last novel of the trilogy, Jacob seeks an end to the torture that has haunted the Peculiardoms and to rescue his friends who are being held captive by the antagonist, Caul.

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A Peculiar is not that strange friend who decides to wear socks on their hands instead of gloves: Peculiars are humans gifted with certain abilities which allows them to: turn invisible or breathe underwater or communicate with bees or float through the air. There’s endless possibilities. People with these talents, however, are not welcome in society, (except in laboratories) so the Peculiars have instead found refuge in Loops, where a segment of history – perhaps only a single day, is continually repeated in a small location so that people can live there. This means that, although time is technically moving forward, the days aren’t, so the Peculiars remain the same age they were when they entered the Loop.

Which brings me onto my criticism. The romantic relationship in this story was bizarre; Riggs kindles the ongoing relationship between Emma (a girl who can create fire) and Jacob. This is dull; ultimately that is what the other two novels did. We saw their relationship develop, and there was no massive obstacle to it except at the very end when Jacob has to return to his parents. And although this crushes his heart, Jacob can still send letters to Emma and doesn’t see her for only a few months before they’re reunited indefinitely. Gripping story, eh? It would have been a more effective aspect of the novel if Riggs had put in proper tangible obstacles in the way, not a mere “I love you Emma, but I need my parents more” line in the last few pages. Also, I found it slightly strange that, due to the whole frozen age instance due to entering Loops, Emma, although appearing 16, was actually about 150 years old. This is mentioned repeatedly, and it made the whole relationship appear strange because in modern society relationships with age gaps that exceed 100 years are frowned upon.

Anyway. Considering that the novel is the last in the trilogy, it clearly wasn’t going to be as strong as its predecessors. The overarching ending was cliché: a final battle takes place between the good and evil characters: unsurprisingly the good come out unscathed and the evil are all crushed, including their fortress. Yes, they have a fortress with a moat too. It is a concept that has only been seen in nearly all children’s stories ever written. Then, after Jacob has to make the ‘heart wrenching’ decision of leaving his friends (it took him all of one paragraph) and return to his parents, a chapter later they’re all reunited. What author likes to put their protagonist into emotional turmoil, anyway?

At times it did appear that Riggs had added certain segments of the plot in merely so that it could take up more pages… so that there could actually be a novel. Some parts, although clumsily stitched into appearing to be essential to the plot, seemed weak and merely as a buffer to the actual storyline: the fact that they need a hollowgast (which is a type of monster that likes to eat Peculiars) to run the machine which would enable them to get into the fortress felt like an irrelevant fact- and yet he spends about 50 pages trying to get the characters to hunt one. Or, Riggs could have instead written, ‘and it turned out the Panloopticon (the name of the machine) was ready for use. So we prepared our things to go into battle.’ But no. We had a few lovely rambling scenes, and because it didn’t seem like the natural path for progression at that stage, it made me painfully aware that this was all fiction, instead of enjoying the story.

It was still wonderful to see how images were weaved into the plot though. Throughout the entire trilogy, Riggs has supplemented his prose with old photographs, most of them enhanced and altered using ancient techniques. They add another element to the story, not necessarily making it feel more credible, but offering a guide when you are trying to tackle imagining some of the more outlandish situations. However, if you are considering buying the Library of Souls for the pictures, I would instead recommend Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, as that one all-round is stronger.  Below is an image that was included in the first novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children:

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Overall, a disappointing end to a series that I had truly enjoyed, but nonetheless I encourage you to read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, because there all of Riggs’ crafting skills are on display, representing him at his very best.

Have you seen the film and read the book? How do they compare? Also, do you think that the Library of Souls is a strong finish? Are there any series/ trilogies out there that get better as they progress? Do leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

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1 thought on “The Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs”

  1. Loved your latest review. I have only read the first of the series so far – and really enjoyed it. I think the series has now also been turned into a movie with no other than Tim Burton directing!
    The only trilogy I can think of which is keeping its pace is the “Bromeliad” by Terry Pratchett and even there the first book was the strongest, at least in my opinion.

    Like

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