Alistair Grim's Odditorium (Odditorium #)
January 06, 2015
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.
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Grubb's start as an overworked orphan in Victorian England is a good way to start this book; Mrs. Pinch and Mr. Grim seem kindly by comparison, and no matter how hard he is asked to work, the jobs are much easier than sweeping chimneys. The Odditorium is a big mystery to the people in London, since it has been shrouded during its construction, but the fascination with oddities and supernatural elements was significant during this time period, so is a perfect fit.
The characters are well-developed and rather fun. I had hoped for a bigger role for Mrs. Pinch, whose habit of losing her spectacles and her exasperated utterance of "Blind me!" made me think that she was more powerful than she seemed. I just wish she had been used more. Nigel has a fascinating backstory which also rings true for the times, and even though I was a little disappointed that Cleona wasn't more of a friend for Grubb, there was a compelling reason for this!
Akin to Stroud's Lockwood and Co., Haberdasher's Knightley Academy or the New-York Circulating Material Repository in Shulman's The Grimm Legacy, the Odditorium is a fascinating venue of magic and mayhem in which readers will gladly lose themselves.
Since fantasy is not my favorite thing, and I find that lists of characters add a daunting quality to a book (thank goodness the list was at the end, not at the beginning with a map-- that usually causes me to run screaming!), I would have preferred that characters such as Mrs. Pinch and Nigel would have had more roles, and fewer characters would have been introduced once the Odditorium took off flying. Also, I'm never fond of main characters suffering from wounds and/or passing out (as in Nielsen's The False Prince and sequels), and Grubb manages to pass out at least three times. Still, I'll definitely be looking forward to the next book!
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