Warning; this will contain slight spoilers for the previous three books.
I was originally interested in the series because it made use of odd- and sometimes creepy- old photographs. The idea of crafting an entire world around those old photos was incredibly creative. The plot-line of the first few books wrapped up pretty solidly in the third book (Library of Souls), so I didn’t know what to expect in A Map of Days. In this fourth installment, Jacob is back in his home state of Florida, surrounded by people who know nothing about peculiars or wights, and wouldn’t believe him if he told them. The peculiars that went through his adventures with him in the three previous books have shown up out of the blue, and Jacob is asked to give them lessons in “normalization,” so they can pass for children of the present day. What begins as a crash course in being a modern child soon turns dangerous as the peculiars learn secrets about Jacob’s grandfather that send them on a secret mission across the U.S., in and out of the different time loops. There are also several new characters introduced, one of whom is seriously cool.
I felt that Ransom Riggs becomes a better writer with each subsequent book, and this one is by far my favorite. It has a different feel than the others, and the fact that it takes place on a different continent opens Riggs’ world up and makes the stakes feel higher. I also like that it wasn’t just a rehash of the other three books: there are new villains to fight, and new problems to solve. In a lot of ways, it seemed like a treasure hunt: there were clues that needed to be put together, and a lot of second-guessing as far as whose motives were questionable.
This book split the peculiars into a smaller group, which meant each character was able to have more focus put on them. That had both good and bad points for me: Millard was given a lot more attention, which I love because he’s one of my favorites, but Horace wasn’t in it much, completely bumming me out. Millard had several new experiences, though, and there was at least one “aww!” moment for me involving him. The whole Jacob- Emma relationship thing kind of weirds me out, seeing as the third member of the unintentional love triangle involves Jacob’s deceased grandfather. I mean, come on Emma! Maybe try dating outside the family. Thankfully, all that is resolved without becoming the main focus of this book. All in all, despite a few odd moments here and there, I felt this was the best book in the series to date. It’s a fun read, and absolute one-of-a-kind. I’m looking forward to picking up the next book when it releases.
Have you read this series? What are your thoughts?