Thursday, 2 June 2016

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs (Peculiar Children, #3) - Book Review

4/5 Stars

A boy with extraordinary powers.

An army of deadly monsters.

An epic battle for the future of peculiardom...

Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 458
Chapters: 11
Publisher: Quirk Books

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


I wasn't extremely enthusiastic when I slipped Library of Souls from my shelf. Its predecessor, Hollow City, while a solid and enjoyable experience, left a bitter taste in my mouth. It bridges the gap between the first novel and the last just fine, but it doesn't do much to push you into a frenzy for the final instalment.

But I'm not one to just shrug my shoulders and leave a series, I'm far too stubborn. So, I went into the story with as much ambivalence as I could muster.

And, it turned out great. Riggs's conclusion is a bonanza of action, adventure and magic. It still suffers from bouts of incomprehensible convenience and plot holes, but stopping those aspects from taking over your brain really helps you appreciate a wholly immersive story.

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

The peculiar children have been kidnapped, and Jacob, Emily and their canine companion Addison are all in the jaws of death.
But it's not their final moments.
Discovering a new, mysterious power inside himself, Jacob extends their lives a little longer.
Long enough to be caught up in the precarious webs of the plot against them.
What they know is wrong, and what's coming is bigger than they can even imagine.
And they all have pretty big imaginations...

Plot - 4/5 Stars

I'll shake off the negative energy first. Many of my misgivings for the second novel focused on plot holes (which might not be holes, but the information around some of the story's mechanics is unclear) and a convenient, yet unlikely, progression of events. They're both still in residence in Library of Souls, but they're not as sharp.

Time travel, which is prevalent in all three entries to the trilogy, is a double-edged trickster: It's mighty fun and interesting, but sooner or later the house of cards will fall. Thankfully, the author doesn't ignore the issue, and instead reaffirms basic mechanics in a vague way. As long as you suspend your disbelief, you can enjoy the story.

Moving on to the positive side of things, Ransom's concluding story is intense and focused. The intrigue is palpable now that we're racing to a tenuous finale. Little twists and turns invigorate the reader's imagination as the plot unfolds, with action scenes being big and bold. Even the lush, if sometimes faulty, range of abilities add their own unique spice.

As secrets are revealed and loyalties are tested, the author treats us to a climactic showdown worthy of praise. The series' lore comes to a satisfying point, and the final battle is all manner of tense. Once out of the way, a hopeful ending gives fans the kind of conclusion to be happy about.

Pace - 4/5 Stars

Library of Souls is probably the most focused in the entire trilogy. It knows where it's going and it's not afraid to make the ride an adrenaline-fueled riot. Action, exposition and development mix tremendously well, giving the reader a proper closing novel.

A tad too long, in my opinion, but even the fluff is interesting.

Characters - 4.5/5 Stars

The author scales back the cast for the majority of the novel, and it's great. While I love the long list of characters, the two preceding entries are bursting with so many personalities that don't get enough attention. Library of Souls works with little for the most part, adding layers and layers to characters like Jacob, our protagonist, Emma, our leading lady, and Addison, our peculiar canine friend that proves to be stalwart and comedic. 

And when the larger cast does come into play, Riggs handles it with deft and dedicated hands, creating a chaos in the last quarter of the novel that's addictive.

Writing - 4/5 Stars

Library of Souls has a solid structure that provides excellent flow and scenes that are set quickly and efficiently. There are fewer photographs in this entry, I think, but they're enjoyable interludes to the fantastical story.

Overall - 4/5 Stars

A ferocious and focused finale that justifies the series.

Previous Instalment: Hollow City

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