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Friday, May 1, 2015

"Alistair Grimm's Odditorium: Odditorium #1" by Gregory Funaro (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

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OVERVIEW: 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.

FORMAT: Alistair Grim's Odditorium is the first book of a children's fantasy series. It has a mix of everything in it from action, adventure, sci-fi, steampunk, supernatural, enchanted characters, mythology, a London setting, and a little mystery.

Alistair Grim's Odditorium stands at 432 pages and was published January 6, 2015 by Disney-Hyperion.

ANALYSIS: What if you added a steampunk/gothic flair to Harry Potter and threw in some magical creatures like from Beauty and Beast? What would you get? I would say you get the Odditorium series. Now, before you rush off and chalk this up as just another Harry Potter/children's fantasy knockoff book, let me tell you it is anything but that.

The minute I started reading Alistair Grim's Odditorium, I knew I was in for a treat. There is just something magical about the writing style, the characters, and the pace of the book. It practically pulls you in and before you know it the book is over and you have to wait until the next one is released.

One of my biggest concerns with Alistair Grim's Odditorium was that it would become a pure mess. The overview promised a lot. There was a promise of dragons, mythology, magical creatures like banshees, a powerful magical force, wizards, witches, and a steampunk-like house. That is certainly a lot of elements that can turn into a mess when not handled properly, but luckily it was handled with care.

It is surprising with all the elements that are actually present within the novel that there was such a simple feel to the book. Even though Gregory Funaro introduces a lot of things it is done at a pace that – for the reader – is easy to keep up with and maintain. Characters were slowly introduced and developed, which kept them memorable.

There also was a 'main cast' that stayed consistent throughout the book. Some secondary characters were introduced, but for the most part the main cast was involved in all, or most of, the activities. This made it really easy to remember who people were, what their background story was, and really relate to them.

Another element of Alistair Grim's Odditorium that really helped was the pacing of the novel. The novel was fast paced with a lot of action, but there were detailed elements thrown in. There was a whole backstory that was revealed, the characters' stories were told, and everyone developed a personality. Considering how fast and action-packed the novel was it was surprising so much could be jammed into the book and not turn into something that was confusing or just plain junk.

Overall, I loved Alistair Grim's Odditorium. I loved the magical watch character, found Grubb likeable and someone I really wanted to learn more about, and really was just invested in the entire story. I can't wait to see where the series goes. There was a lot thrown in at the end that left me waiting anxiously for the next novel. The author is extremely talented and I just cannot wait to see what happens.

If you are looking for a good read that isn't overly complex, give Alistair Grim's Odditorium a try. It is sure to be a delight for anyone who likes children's fantasy books and is looking for something that is a little out of the norm.


Kim Aippersbach said...

You're right that the description makes it sound like everything but the kitchen sink! And the runaway abused servant is an overly familiar character. But if it's handled well, as you say it is, then it sounds like it will be worth picking up.

Cindy said...

It is handled very well. In fact, for the most part it only focused on him being 'abused' and orphaned for maybe 10 pages. Before you knew it he was free and away from the mean master/adoptive father.


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