Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

In this sequel to Ransom Riggs’s debut novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Jacob travels to a war-desolated London with his peculiar friends to try to help Miss Peregrine and stop the hollows. Along the way they will discover more peculiars, some even animals, and a secret plan the hollows have been developing to finally achieve what caused their horrid state. Jacob will have to strengthen his ability, fast, to match the growing power of ancient enemies, and more terrifying ones they have yet to face. With even more odd photographs accompanying fantastical powers in children and animals, Hollow City is an urgent necessity for all who’ve read Miss Peregrine’s and are itching to know what happened to the Bird and the peculiar children.

Recommended Readings:

Library of Souls is the third book in this Ransom Riggs trilogy. It follows Jacob, with a new power, as he travels through time to finish what was begun with the hollows and save all peculiar children and animals.

Ransom Riggs has also admitted to being a fan of John Green novels. John Green has written several novels, one, about a college boy who falls for a very odd girl named Alaska, in Looking for Alaska. The Fault in our Stars is probably his most famous novel, as well as a movie, about a sarcastic teen with a cancer who meets a boy who teaches her to appreciate the time she has left.

Neil Gaiman’s book of short stories, Unnatural Creatures, or his novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane have similar themes of strange, powerful creatures that live in our universe, hidden as the most ordinary objects, and who have often saved our world.

The Harry Potter books 4-7 (The Goblet of FireThe Deathly Hallows) are very similar in content, struggles, themes, and even ages to the peculiars in this book.

Themed Recipe:

Since the children were given egg bombs to throw in dire need, these cupcakes are in the shape of eggs, covered in melted white chocolate. They are honey-flavored, to pay tribute to Hugh’s bees, which saved the peculiars from a deadly situation.

Honey “Egg” Cupcakes


1/2 cup (1 sticks) salted butter softened to room temperature

1/2 cup white sugar

2 large eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

½ cup of milk

¼ cup honey

In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed, mix butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Add half the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in the mixer. Allow to fully incorporate. Add the milk, wait until fully mixed in, then add the rest of the flour. Finally, add the honey just until combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl so all ingredients are fully mixed in. Bake 11-13 minutes in a greased, egg shaped pan at 350° F. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of a cake. If it comes out free of batter and only covered in crumbs, remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes.

For the shell:

1-2 bags of Wilton white candy melts

Melt the chips in your microwave according to the directions on the bag, or in a double boiler on low heat, stirring and checking every few minutes for the chocolate to be completely melted and shiny. Once melted, you can either drizzle over each egg half, or dip them using two spoons to coat them. To make a full egg shape, coat the flat side of the egg as well, and lay against another already coated egg. Allow the joined or individual halves to dry on a sheet of parchment paper atop a baking sheet. It’s best to pop them in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to solidify.


Discussion Questions:

  1. When the children had to leave the loop, Enoch packed reptile hearts, Hugh took the front doorknob, Horace took his “lucky pillow,” Fiona a jar of wormy garden dirt, and Millard had “striped his face with bomb-pulverized brick dust.” Jacob observed that “if what they kept and clung to seemed strange…it was all they had left of their home.” How did each of these items fit the character of each child? What would the others have taken? What would you have liked to keep from the house, or from your own home, if it were damaged?
  2. Why does Emma believe that “When it comes to big things in life, there are no accidents. Everything happens for a reason” even Jacob’s being there. Jacob, chapters later, admitted he did think “there’s a balance in the world, and sometimes forces we don’t understand intervene to tip the scales the right way. Miss Peregrine saved my grandfather-and now I’m here to help save her.” Was he helping out of a sense of heroism, or obligation? How did Miss Peregrine save his grandfather? What are the differences and similarities in what Emma and Jacob think about the universe, and what has colored those perspectives?
  3. How could Bekhir and his wife risk so much at the hands of the soldiers for their son, or Jacob for Emma, who hadn’t known long? How was Jacob living his dreams and nightmares at the same time and why was it worth it to him?
  4. “Every peculiar’s ability manifests in its own time…Some in infancy, others not until they’re quite old.” How does this explain there being so many peculiar children taken on by the Ymbrynes, but no elderly, who might be in as much need of care? What perhaps triggers a peculiar’s abilities to begin? What triggered Jacob’s? Is it possible that many people merely just explain away and ignore their abilities, and if so, what might those be?
  5. Horace joked that “the true purpose of money is to manipulate others and make them feel lesser than you,” then, what he REALLY thought it was for, “to buy clothes.” Do you think some people actually feel the first way about money? What is the true purpose of money? How do our actions show what we really feel about it, especially those who spend most of their lives amassing more than they can spend?
  6. Mr. White compared the peculiars living on an island for seventy years, living the same day over and over again, to being “worse than any prison camp I can think of.” Did he really believe that, or was he lying? Would that actually have been worse for any of the characters in the book, or, did all of them appreciate the freedoms they had? What were some of those, that a person in a prison camp never would have had (remember how some things were always replenished the next day)?
  7. Mr. White was appalled that the children called them monsters, and considered him and his kind more evolved than any other creatures on the planet. Why do evil creatures lie justify their actions to make themselves look better than they really are, especially to those who actually pursue good, like the children? How is he actually like many evil men throughout our world history, and what makes him blind to it?
  8. How had Hugh’s strange ability, and a field of wildflowers, actually saved everyone, in a way that none of the others could have managed at the time?
  9. How had hollows come about, and what enabled them to suddenly be able to enter loops, when they never had before?
  10. How did Millard see peculiarness as an abundance, instead of a deficiency, compared to normals? Where did the legend of which he spoke come from in our history, that peculiars might have descended from powerful, enormous giants?
  11. How had luck saved Jacob from the hollows, and what did he have to learn to do with his ability in order to fight the real danger in the shadows? Why was it so hard for him to do, and what does this teach us about learning and growing new skills, and how the effort is, in the end, very much worth it?
  12. Why did one of Miss Peregrine’s orphans need to pass through the loop where they’d found the echolocators, before those or the girl did? What is the conundrum of children passing through loops without an Ymbryne in its human form?
  13. Running through the bomb-ridden city, Jacob “envied the blind brothers, navigating a mercifully detail-free topography…I wondered briefly what their dreams looked like-or if they dreamt at all.” Why did Jacob envy the blind brothers? Do all who’ve seen war first-hand, wish they had not seen such horrors? Do you think that the boys dreamed, and if so, what would they look like, especially being peculiars?
  14. Millard said that some deaths “were written into history…they were of the past, and the past always mends itself, no matter how we interfere.” What made him think this way? Did any incidences of this appear in this book or the previous one? How does this tie into how the loops work? So then, would it be possible for any of them to change anything in history, even great tragedies?
  15. Why was it so important for Emma “to prove to a stranger that we were good-hearted, when we knew ourselves to be”? Why did “the suggestion that…our natures were more complexly shaded, seemed to bother her”? Was it that way for all of the peculiars, or only some? And do normal people struggle with that as well? Why?
  16. When the peculiars were dressing up in period clothes to fit another loop time period, Emma was laughing about the ridiculousness of an outfit. “Then a pained expression crossed her face, as if she felt guilty for laughing,-for having had even a moment of fun, given all that had happened to us and everything yet to be resolved.” Was she wrong to have laughed, or to have stifled it? Can laughter be appropriate after a tragedy, and how do we know when? What makes us feel guilty about it? Isn’t joy and laughter and happiness what makes life worth living?
  17. “A peculiar’s sole is the door to his soul.” What does this have to do with what the wights were looking for, and why some injured peculiars in hospitals had slices on the soles of their feet? What was Millard’s theory about the connection between a peculiar’s souls and abilities, and what the wights were attempting to do with them?
  18. How did giving into the pain from the hollows enable Jacob to dig deeper and find a new ability? What was it, and from where had he gained an idea of it and how it worked?

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