The Conference of the Birds (2020) – Ransom Riggs

Title:The Conference of the Birds
Author:Ransom Riggs
Date published:2020
Publisher:Penguin Random House
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Disclaimer:A copy of this novel was sent by Penguin Random House/Penguin Books South Africa in exchange for an honest review

There is more to the universe than you ever imagined”

In so many ways the fifth installment of Ransom Riggs’ best-selling Peculiar Children series is probably the most exciting and thrilling edition. It would appear that there are so many more avenues this series can go, and despite its slightly slimmer appearance The Conference of the Birds manages to pack more adventures into one volume than the entire series. Written elegantly in Riggs’ signature effortless prose, and complimented by the addition of a selection of vintage photographs, the reader is once again taken on a deliciously peculiar journey.

This novel takes place directly after the events in A Map of Days, in a world very different from the peculiar world in which our young heroes are used to. They are no longer in fair Europe where the ymbrynes hold power. In peculiar America the ymbrynes have been killed off and are mostly in hiding. There are peculiar clans in different parts of the United States who are at war with one another, and those ymbrynes still relevant are attempting to bring peace to the opposing sides at a conference held in the Peculiar town of Marrowbone. Whilst attending the conference all hell breaks loose in Devil’s Acre where the peculiars have taken refuge. Several wights escape the prison, leaving behind only clues to a terrible prophecy that may have something to do with the peculiar children’s nemesis they once banished during the great battle in The Library of Souls. Unable to be everywhere at once Miss Peregrine has to start trusting in her student’s abilities, as they are growing up and becoming stronger by the day. Jacob and his friends, who now include the ‘light-catcher’ Noor Pradesh, must aide the ymbrynes in their peace mission by rescuing a peculiar girl but in doing so they unwittingly unlock even more mysteries and discover new peculiar secrets.

It’s very difficult to tolerate a normal life once you’ve lived a peculiar one for a while”

With Jacob’s ever growing attraction to Noor a huge part of the story, it is also a great comfort to settle in comfortably with old favorites such as Hugh the boy with the bees, Enoch and his ability to raise the dead, Emma the fire-maker, Horace and his prophetic dreams, Bronwyn the brave and strong, Millard the invisible, Claire the girl with two mouths and Olive who floats above the clouds. The Peculiar children are no longer trapped in a loop that prevents them from ageing and so the world is suddenly a much bigger place. In A Map of Days they were figuring out how to be ‘normal’, but in The Conference of the Birds being normal is not nearly as important as realizing how truly unique they all are, and how powerful they are capable of being when they work as a team. They must learn to trust one other, and most importantly they must learn to trust in themselves.

From the normalcy of Jacob’s home in Florida, to the small backwater loop of Locust Gap, and the strange town of Hopewell, the peculiars are sent on missions all over a very vast America, whilst their mission to find the elusive V continues, and their introduction to new peculiar allies becomes more frequent.

It is true that Jacob and his friends will be tested beyond anything they’ve ever experienced before, but they will also discover just how important loyalty, friendship, family and trust are, and that this, along with their peculiarities, will be what makes all the difference in the end.

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