|Alistair Grim's Odditorium
4 / 5
"The odd was the ordinary at Alistair Grim's."
This cinematic, action-packed middle grade fantasy adventure set in Victorian London brims with fresh magic and has the cozy feeling of a classic.
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.
Simply adorable. Perfectly Disney, this book was. Which is to say, full of underdog adventure, and very family-friendly. There are the good guys and the bad guys. The main good guy being Grubb, a young orphan boy who is mistreated by his adoptive father, a severe chimneysweep for whom Grubb apprentices. When the boy sees the chance to escape his miserable, tormented life, he takes a chance...and finds himself in a magical new place. Luckily, he is quickly adopted into the Oddotorium's...well, odd lifestyle, and befriends many magical creatures as he begins to figure out his new home. While he is still fairly new, he is swept up in several exciting adventures which take him through the streets of London, into the wilds of America, and even to a castle in the sky. Grubb manages to keep his head the entire time, and in fact uses his noggin several times to escape from tight scrapes.
That is probably what I loved most about this book: there are several clever characters, the majority of whom are females. There is even a female Japanese warrior, who definitely kicks butt! And Grubb is endearing, even in his obliviousness. He has an innocent and wholesome charm which the reader will latch onto. Even the magic and the fantastical adventures, which don't always appeal to me unless they are done well, really flourish in these pages. Funaro has a wonderful way of making the unbelievable believable. All you want to do is join in on the fun of the Odditorium and befriend its wonderful, wacky, endearing characters. And while the book ties up neatly, there is certainly room for more adventure!
P.S. I feel as if the publisher's description above really can't be beat for getting everything spot-on.
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