Author: Gregory Funaro
Genre: MG fantasy
Length: 432 pages
Buy it: Amazon | Book Depository
Grubb, age twelve (or thereabouts), has never known anything beyond his miserable existence as a chimney sweep, paid only in insults and abuse by his cruel master.
All of that changes the day he stows away in the coach belonging to a mysterious guest at the inn that he is tasked with cleaning. Grubb emerges from Alistair Grim’s trunk and into the wondrous world of the Odditorium. Fueled by a glowing blue energy that Grubb can only begin to understand, the Odditorium is home to countless enchanted objects and an eccentric crew that embraces Grubb as one of their own.
There’s no time for Grubb to settle into his new role as apprentice to the strange, secretive Mr. Grim. When the Odditorium comes under attack, Grubb is whisked off on a perilous adventure. Only he can prevent the Odditorium’s magic from falling into evil hands-and his new family from suffering a terrible fate.
Grubb knows he’s no hero. He’s just a chimney sweep. But armed with only his courage and wits, Grubb will confront the life-or-death battle he alone is destined to fight.
*ARC received in exchange for review. This in no way affects my opinion or review*
Alistair Grim’s Odditorium was a delight! It reminded me a lot of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, actually, which I also really enjoyed. The beginning was a little slow (I’ve found myself saying this a lot lately) but I really enjoyed the rest of the story. Our protagonist is Grubb, who is twelve or thereabouts. He’s very curious and witty, and there are plenty of humorous scenes. I thought that he was a little too trusting over everyone he met, and too quick to take a side, but overall he was an interesting character.
This story is completely full of magical characters—everything from dragons to fairies to banshees to trolls. They are all described in detail, and I’m sure that younger MG readers (say, 3rd and 4th grade) will appreciate these elements. They were certainly entertaining.
Alistair Grim’s Odditorium is set in an alternate 18th century London, with magic. Magic isn’t widely accepted and the people who have heard of the mysterious objects that Mr. Grim collects in his Odditorium consider him to be a “mad sorcerer” or simply insane. Mr. Grim was a very quirky character himself, but I preferred the large cast of secondary characters. From the pouty Yellow Fairy to the mischievous Cleona to the grumpy housekeeper–I loved them. This was the part that really made the novel for me. They were just awesome!
The antagonist of Alistair Grim’s Odditorium is named Prince Nightshade. He was a pretty cardboard villain, and didn’t have much of a reason for his decisions. He has an evil court of monsters. He hates Mr. Grim. He wants to take over the world. Okay…but why? This is never explained, and it was one of the biggest letdowns for me about this story. Even a little bit of explanation would have been appreciated! Hopefully the antagonist is developed more in future novels.
This book is quite long for a MG book, and there is a lot happening. I still felt like it could have been shortened a bit, but otherwise it was a lovely read. Highly recommended, especially to fans of Mr. Magorium’s Wonderful Emporium, and The Map To Everywhere.