Book Review: Alistair Grim's Odditorium by Gregory Funaro

Alistair Grim's Odditorium is the first book in the Odditorium series by Gregory Funaro. Grubb, age twelve (or thereabouts), has never known anything beyond his miserable existence as a chimney sweep. 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. 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.

Alistair Grim's Odditorium is a middle grade fantasy novel that hints of steampunk. Grubb had a very rough start to life, but that start has given him some skills that serve him well on his adventures in 19th century England. Grubb does not expect anything from anyone, and coming to the Odditorium is both a blessing and a curse. It gets him away from a less than pleasant situation and throws him into a much more caring but dangerous situation. the Odditorium is fueled by magic, and secrets abound. Fairies, banshees, sinister skeletons, and much more await Grubb. I really like that through it all Grubb uses wit and his good nature to get through most scrapes. Those that are honorable seem to come out on top (at least most of the time) here. Even when mistakes are made, characters work to make it right.  the characters are widely varied in personaklity and persuation, but they all grew and developed as the story continued. However, I will admit that I fully expected the revelation that came about on the final page, but I still greatly enjoyed the journey.

Alistair Grim's Odditorium is a fast paced and unique offering for the middle grade market. I seriously think it has the potential of becoming as well known and remembered as Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and Wrinkle in Time for the level of adventure and virtuous characters that face huge obstacles. I would recommend this for reluctant and avid readers alike. 


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