Title: Alistair Grim’s Odditorium
Author: Gregory Funaro
Genre: Children’s Fantasy
Opening line: The odd was the ordinary at Alistair Grim’s.
Blurb: Set in Victorian London Grubb, aged 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. The Odditorium is a flying house of mechanical wonders filled with supernatural beings and powered by a mysterious blue energy called animus. 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.
My Thoughts: With a title of ALISTAIR GRIM’S ODDITORIUM I should not have been surprised that this was, at times, a very odd book. Aimed at the 8 to 12 age group the adventure was quite complex at times, and I had a hard time keeping up with some of the events. I worried that kids in this age group might as well; but then again they will probably have more brain cells than me still.
The basis of the story follows the magical adventure of a young orphaned chimney sweep called Grubb. When he arrives at the Odditorium and is discovered and hauled in front of the owner, Mr Grim, Grubb is told that he can stay and work for Grim but is not to ask questions, is not to cause trouble and is certainly not to touch anything. Well, a houseful of strange glowing mechanical objects is just surely going to tempt a young 12-year-old boy and very quickly, after being befriended by a talking pocket-watch that keeps asking what the time is, Grubb is on a manic adventure to save the Odditorium from the evil Prince Nightshade, assisted by a banshee, a witch, a fairy and some very odd living devices that all call the Odditorium home.
There was a lot going on and the story was quite long with a muddle of events, things, information and characters all being thrown at me at once; I hardly had time to absorb what was going on. I didn’t have time to get to know the characters and there was certainly no growth in Grubb from beginning to end. However, his circumstances certainly changed and the great revelation at the end means there will be more changes ahead – and maybe the subsequent adventures in future books will allow for growth in his character. Every so often the plot did slow – mostly when Mr Grim had something to say – and then he talked, and talked, and then talked some more, info dumping until my eyes glazed over and I wanted the action back – as exhausting as it was. Just as well there was enough excitement going on to entice me to hang on through the info dump until the adventure got going again.
ALISTAIR GRIM’S ODDITORIUM was not a bad book don’t get me wrong, the illustrations were terrific, the plot was good, there was action, magic and a good cast; just not a cast that I felt at one with. It just didn’t grab me completely, something was missing for me and I can’t quite put my fingers on it. I didn’t really relate completely to any of the characters as there was not enough time to get to know anyone. ALISTAIR GRIM’S ODDITORIUM is the first in a series, and there were some loose ends which will lead into the next stage nicely. I would certainly read the next one when it comes out but at this stage there is no date or title on the horizon. If you are a fan of Fantasy and you don’t mind long books with lots going on then I recommend this one for you.
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C – Above average – was very readable and I really liked it but was easily able to put it down and walk away for a while.
With thanks to the Disney Book Group and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.