The good news about Library of Souls: it got better. The bad news: now it appears the series is over. There is definitely room for additional books, I mean, it’s not like all of the characters die at the end, or anything, and though the wights are essentially defeated, if fictional history is any indicator, there will always be magical folks who will become corrupted by their power and get up to bad behavior, so I’m sure Jacob and friends will find some evil or other to rise up against.
So yes, spoiler alert! The ending of this young adult fantasy novel is generally happy, though there’s quite a bit of battling and violence that leads up to the happy ending. It’s kid fiction! I don’t think I’ve ever read a young adult novel with a one hundred percent sad ending. Now here’s an issue I hadn’t counted on with reading most of this book while also binge watching Doctor Who (hooray for Read All Day Fridays): I’m not necessarily confusing the wights and the Daleks, but I am imagining Jacob Portman as looking a heck of a lot more like the Tenth Doctor than I used to. Enough of that, though. If I wanted a Doctor Who blog, I’d start one. And I’m sure there are plenty of those around that I don’t need to start my own.
Jacob, Emma, and Addison make their way to the wights’ stronghold on the far side of Devil’s Acre, but are unable to make it across the half broken bridge that’s guarded by a hollowgast. They eventually meet up with a peculiar adult named Bentham, who, it turns out, is Miss Peregrine’s brother, as well as Caul’s, and he wants to help the kids rescue their friends and all the ymbrynes, because he is trying to make amends for helping Caul all those years ago. Turns out he and his evil brother were working on a “Panloopticon” machine, a way to get from one loop to another much more quickly than the old fashioned way that Jacob and the other kids spent all of Hollow City doing: travelling to each one and doing trial and error until they got in. Bentham’s entire house is a Panloopticon: he found loops and then somehow via some sort of peculiar magic made new entrances to them from rooms in his house. When he and Caul had their falling out years and years ago, the Panloopticon was broken, and he is just getting it fixed. Turns out that Caul also made a Panloopticon in his fortress, and Bentham thinks that there are some loops that both his and his evil brother’s Panloopticon machines have entrances to, so all they have to do to get into the wight fortress is get the machine working and walk through one of the loops! Except the thing that they need to finish fixing it is a tamed hollowgast, which is where Jacob comes in….
Jacob’s gift for talking to/controlling the hollows expands exponentially in Library of Souls, and it’s almost too rapid progress, but if it hadn’t been, he would either have been killed, or the book would have been even longer than it already is. So I’m willing to forgive that little issue. Anyway, so the Library of Souls is a legendary loop in peculiardom that is said to contain all of the oldest of the peculiar souls, and Caul believes he has found it. But he needs Jacob—apparently his ability to see Hollows also allows him to see the containers that the souls are contained in. This connection is a bit iffy to me; either it wasn’t explained well or I wasn’t paying attention when it was. (I tend to think that the latter is somewhat more true than the former given that I was multitasking while I was reading a lot of this book, but I refuse to take all of the blame.) The point is that Jacob ends up having to go down into the catacombs with Caul and his minions, where a glorious final battle is waged, and there are beautiful descriptions of the souls in the bottles that only Jacob can see.
Ultimately, I did enjoy Library of Souls, but I do think it went on for too long, and that Riggs had to try a little too hard to fit the vintage pictures into the story this time. The first two books it wasn’t as obvious what he was up to, forming the story around the pictures, but here it wasn’t as seamless, and the early parts had too few pictures, and then the end had too many. The story itself, once it got going, was good, and I feel like all loose ends were adequately wrapped up. People who have read the first two books in the series should finish it off if they care to; it wasn’t disappointing and I’m glad Jacob came into his own as a peculiar and that the bad guys got what was coming to them. This series isn’t perfect, but it is entertaining, and a nice break from more complex “adult” stuff. And books with pictures are always nice, even when they’re weird and creepy.
And now I’m back to the world of adult fiction… I started David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks last night. So far it’s good, and not too complicated. But I know from reading Bethany’s post about Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas back in 2013 that it probably isn’t going to stay simple for very long.