(No actual dueling—or even arm-twisting—was involved. Don’t worry, this is a dual review, not a duel review. Sorry if you’re disappointed.)
Danielle Hammelef was the latest winner of my Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up “Make Me Read It” giveaway, and she chose to make me read Alistair Grim’s Odditorium by Gregory Funaro. I read the book and then sent it along to Danielle, and we did a dual review together.
Read on to see what we thought of the book…
Alistair Grim's Odditorium by Gregory Funaro
Illustrator: Vivienne To
Series: Odditorium #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 6, 2015
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
My content rating: MG (No romance; Some mild violence)
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.
A wacky and adventurous MG romp through a magical world!
What Fed Our Addiction:
Grubb. This author captured an authentic middle grade voice in Grubb. I found myself caring for him immediately and cheering him on through his adventures and internal struggles.
I agree that Grubb was a wonderfully endearing character. The beginning of the book, with his struggles as an orphan in a bad situation tug at your heartstrings and get you invested right away.
Friendship/found family. The diverse, eccentric, charming group of characters who pull together into a strong, supportive found family, warmed my heart and soul. I enjoyed that no one was ever left behind (this reminds me of ohana from my beloved Stitch) and how these characters worked together, sacrificed, and forgave mistakes.
So true. This group of ragtag magical characters made for a wonderful found family! And forgiveness is an important theme that I don’t think we see enough of. One of my favorite characters was the hilariously strange sentient pocketwatch!
Adventure/action. Magic, peril, chases, battles all kept me reading and immersed in this world. I found the pacing perfect.
This was definitely a quick read with lots of action. Seems perfect for a MG audience who might be otherwise tempted to set the book down. I especially loved the Odditorium itself—it seems like the type of setting I would have adored when I was a kid, with all its mystery and surprises!
World-building. Although the beginning threw me for a loop, I now know this was part of the plan and is a clever technique by this author. After I finished, I went back and reread the first chapter and was hit with “ah-ha” moments. I never doubted any of the magic inside of this book.
Interesting—now I wish I could go back and read that beginning again too so I could remember exactly what you’re talking about. I love it when you’re compelled to go back and reread something after you’ve gotten further in the book and it all makes sense after the fact. 🙂
You can go to Amazon and preview the book to reread Chapter 1 if you want.
Brilliant idea! I did just that, and now I remember exactly what you mean. There are lots of clues about what’s to come sprinkled in that first chapter!
What Left Us Hungry for More:
Danielle didn’t give me any negatives. She just said: This book is everything I love to find in middle grade fantasy. I already know I will read book two.
When I put the book down, I was left feeling that it was a really imaginative read—easily got my Fed My Addiction rating. I didn’t feel compelled to immediately write my thoughts about it or do a search for the sequel right away like I do with some books (though I’ll probably read the sequel at some point). Still, I definitely agree it was an entertaining book!
So, that wraps it up. I’d say this read was another win, and I’m glad Danielle Made Me Read It!
***Disclosure: Nicole received this book from the publisher via BEA in exchange for an honest review (and Danielle received it from Nicole). No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Gregory Funaro grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island, and wrote his first story, The Ghost in the Window, in the fourth grade. He considers this to be his finest work, but unfortunately it has been lost to time. His first book for Disney-Hyperion, ALISTAIR GRIM’S ODDITORIUM (2015), was a New York Times best seller and an Amazon Best Book of the Month. His other works for children have received starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, and ALA Booklist. Check out WATCH HOLLOW, the first book in his series for HarperCollins, as well as its sequel, THE ALCHEMIST’S SHADOW, coming in 2020. Greg also teaches drama at East Carolina University, and is busy working on his next novel.
Have you read this one? What did you think? We want to know!