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Odditorium #1

Alistair Grim's Odditorium

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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.

432 pages, Hardcover

First published January 6, 2015

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About the author

Gregory Funaro

8 books403 followers
Gregory Funaro is the NY Times best selling author of Disney-Hyperion's ALISTAIR GRIM'S ODDITORIUM (an Amazon Best Book of the Month for January, 2015) and ALISTAIR GRIM'S ODD AQUATICUM (2016), which received a Kirkus starred review. WATCH HOLLOW (HarperCollins, 2019) received starred reviews from School Library Journal and ALA Booklist, and was a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection. The exciting sequel, WATCH HOLLOW: THE ALCHEMIST'S SHADOW, was published in February of 2020. He is also the author of two thrillers, THE SCULPTOR and THE IMPALER, for Kensington/Pinnacle. Gregory is a professor emeritus and lives with his family in Rhode Island, where he is busy working on his next novel. Please visit his official web site at www.gregoryfunaro.com.

Twitter: @GregoryFunaro
Instagram: Gregory.Funaro

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 242 reviews
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,574 reviews5,912 followers
April 26, 2015
That minute you hit save and Goodreads eats your review. Anger face.

My friend J brought this book to my attention. Yay!
This is the kind of fantasy I like. Fast paced-story doesn't get confused with a million characters-and so much fun.

It begins with Grubb, he was left on Mr. and Mrs. Spears front steps and they took him in. Once Mrs. Spears passed away the Mr. saw no need for Grubb. It was either work as a chimney sweep or be sent to the workhouses.

Grubb and Mr. Spears part ways after some mishaps on the job at a hotel and Grubb stashes away in the trunk of one of the guests. Upon arrival at their destination Grubb realizes that he is in for the adventure of his life. He enters the Odditorium.

Mr. Grim owns the Odditorium and collects various Odditoria including a talking pocket watch.

(minus my photo bombing dog)
He also has convinced to the yellow fairy to join his team.

Grubb enters into life at the Odditorium but begins to realize that there are things worrying Mr. Grim. The black fairy and Prince Nightshade want some of the Odditoria from Mr. Grim.

Fun book. I can't wait to see where the story-line goes in the next book.
Profile Image for Darth J .
417 reviews1,253 followers
January 15, 2015
This was almost a 5 star book for me. Almost*.

Going into this, I thought the whole thing would be great. The artwork is incredible, and much of the tone and style were reminiscent of Rowling's first Potter book. There's a bit of a steampunk element to this, but not overly so. It also has a lot of familiar, Disney-esque pieces to it but it's also refreshingly original and whimsically gothic.

First we have an orphan named Grubb who is deposited onto the doorstep of strangers by the Yellow Fairy.

He later comes to find himself in the employ of Alistair Grim, a dapperly-dressed sorcerer. His Odditorium is filled with semi-sentient objects like a watch that talks and a broom that sweeps of its own volition as if they were taken from Beauty and the Beast.

Also inside the Odditorium are his assistants: Mrs. Pinch (a witch and resident cook), and Nigel Stout who must wear goggles to conceal the blue animus flamin' out his eyes.

The villain in this story is Prince Nightshade, an apparent rival to Grim.

And is assisted by the Black Fairy as much as the Yellow one aids Alistair.

*Here's where it lost me:

Also, spelling nazis take note: Page 149 finds the error "maketplace" instead of "marketplace". If that's a trigger for you, you may have to just hold onto your butts and somehow find a way to move past it.

For me, Alistair Grim's Odditorium started out really strong and was everything I wanted it to be up until the tone fell apart at about the last 50 pages. Still, most of it was really worth my time and the book itself is gorgeous. Seriously, I want a Barnes and Noble leather-bound edition of this immediately; I can already picture it as purple and black with silverleaf pages and accents. And since this book is put out by Disney-Hyperion you know the movie is coming soon, if not already in development. I nominate Tim Burton to direct it because he's the clear choice for gothic whimsy.

Overall, I would recommend this book. And just putting this out there: I would gladly accept an ARC for the sequel :)
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
October 2, 2015
Updated to include this additional review written by my 13 year old son:
Alistair Grim's Odditorium is an extremely well written book, with many twists and turns and very good combat scenes. The plotline of the book has a depth that not very many books have. The series could go anywhere at this point. I'd like to rate this book at 4.5 stars, tying with Rick Riordan's books, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and the Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans.
-- So there you have it, straight from a middle grader who's a connoisseur of YA fantasy!

Full review, originally posted at www.fantasyliterature.com:

Alistair Grim’s Odditorium, by Gregory Funaro, is a charming middle grade fantasy that reminds me of Roald Dahl’s classic James and the Giant Peach, but with a Victorian steampunk flavor. Replace the giant peach with a large, bizarrely-shaped mansion with strange powers and even stranger inhabitants.


Add one intrepid twelve year old (“or thereabouts”) runaway chimney sweep named Grubb, and a doughty and stubborn magical pocket watch named McClintock with the heart of a Scottish warrior, along with assorted fairies (good and evil) and other magical beings, and you’ve got a great adventure for the younger set.

Grubb (no other name) is a young “chummy” or chimney sweep’s assistant, living in London in the 1800s. He doesn’t know who his parents were; he was left on the doorstep of a childless couple, Mr. and Mrs. Smears, as a baby. Mrs. Smears believes Grubb was left for her by the Yellow Fairy and loves him intensely. Mr. Smears accepts him only because of pressure from his wife, and in the hope that Grubb will prove to be a useful apprentice to him when Grubb gets older. Which Grubb does: Mrs. Smears dies when Grubb is about six years old, and Mr. Smears promptly puts him to work doing all of the actual chimney cleaning, while Mr. Smears sits below and barks orders at him. Grubb is miserable, but terrified of being sent to the workhouse for the poor.

When Grubb is about twelve, matters come to a head when some young bullies chase him around an inn where he is cleaning chimneys, intent on beating him up. In terror, Grubb hides in the trunk of a guest at the inn. Before he knows what’s happening, the trunk — which belongs to Mr. Grim — is loaded into a horse-drawn coach and whisks Grubb away to a new life in Mr. Grim’s fantastical mansion, the eponymous Odditorium. Mechanical samurai warriors protect the mansion, lights and objects glow with an eerie blue light, brooms sweep the floor by themselves, fairies play mischievous tricks.

It’s an incredible, magical place, and Grubb is delighted when the intimidating Mr. Grim invites him to stay. More adventures await Grubb — including dangerous ones, as the evil Black Fairy and his necromancer lord, Prince Nightshade, seek to defeat Alistair Grim and steal his magical sources for their own nefarious purposes. Grubb will need all his brains and luck, and the help of some friends, to escape their clutches and protect the Odditorium and those who call it home.

Funaro shows an impressive amount of imagination and does a solid job building a world where magic exists in Victorian-era England. The travails of Grubb’s life as a young chimney were well fleshed out, making him a sympathetic main character. As he explores this strange and wondrous new world and finds both friends and enemies, his determination and his sense of honor are endearing, and also make him a good role model for young readers.

The magical scheme in Alistair Grim’s Odditorium is a little on the simplistic side. For example, blue, red and yellow represent different types of magic, and when combined (for example, when red and blue magic combine to make purple) can gain additional power. While this magical scheme didn’t necessarily impress me, I think younger readers will enjoy it. Grubb’s series of fantastical adventures and the never-ending magical wonders of the Odditorium are a good bet to enthrall readers in elementary and middle grade age range.

Alistair Grim’s Odditorium kept my interest reasonably well, but was a bit juvenile for my adult taste. Some middle grade books are so delightfully magical that, even as an adult, they suck me into their world, but those books that transcend their age category are relatively few for me. Still, I do think young readers who like adventurous fantasies will love this book, so my 4-star rating reflects my belief in how well its intended audience will like it.

This is the first book in Funaro’s Odditorium series. A sequel, Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum, is due to be published in January 2016. My thirteen-year old son is currently in the middle of the first book (I passed it off to him after I finished it), and given his level of interest so far, I suspect I’ll be getting him the second book as soon as it’s available. :)

I received a copy from the author in exchange for a review. Thank you so much, Gregory!
Profile Image for Cameron Chaney.
Author 6 books1,840 followers
June 26, 2016
Magic, adventure, dragons, banshees, sirens, and steampunk!

I’m happy to report that Alistair Grim’s Odditorium by Gregory Funaro has all of these things and more! It is the wonderfully written first book of a fantastical middle grade fantasy series. It is now a new favorite of mine and I cannot wait to read the second book Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum. I mean, c'mon! Look at that cover!

I recommend this richly whimsical book to anyone who likes their fantasy stories fun, imaginative, and bright (but with a slight dark undertone). To hear my more in-depth thoughts on this book, you can watch my video review HERE!

Profile Image for Alexandra.
1,309 reviews3 followers
January 29, 2018
Very imaginative, well-written, adventure, excitement, battles, characters to love and root for, magical stuff. Overall an excellent MG Fantasy.

The blurb for this one does a good job telling what this story is about. It's set in London in what seems to be the Victorian era, and the writing and characters reflect that to perfection. Grubb is a likeable protagonist, is loyal, tries to do the right thing, and willing to put himself in jeopardy to save a friend.

However he's part of the event that puts the Odditorium in serious danger, although it's not his fault. Grimm is mysterious, but also kind. The cast of supporting characters are imaginative, interesting and quirky. They form a sort of family, and it's delightful.

There's humor here, as well as adventure, danger and magical events. Strange creatures, including a form of dragon, ogres and spirit hounds. There's even a ninja. Oh - and a talking pocket watch.

I can't praise this highly enough. It's got everything a story like this should have. There are even occasional pictures. Always a plus in Middle Grade books. Fans of MG Fantasy should be delighted with this one. It's original and imaginative, and quite well-done.



'On the other hand, if you were too timid to ask for directions, you could just walk around until you came upon a black, roundish building that resembled a fat spider with its legs tucked up against its sides. Or if that didn’t work, you could try looking for the Odditorium’s four tall chimneys poking up above the rooftops—just keep an eye on them, mind your step, and you’d get there sooner or later.'

'A dream? Well, of course it had to be a dream. After all, even a humble chummy like myself knew that people didn’t just go flying about in fancy black coaches.'

'“Loosely defined, the word Odditoria, at once both singular and plural, is used to classify any object living, inanimate, or otherwise what’s believed to possess magical powers. Thus, Odditoriummmm is the place, and Odditoriaaaaa are those objects inside the place. I dunno how much clearer I can make it, laddie.”'

'“Of course. Everyone makes mistakes, Grubb. Even Mr. Grim. But you owned up to it without being asked. And that takes courage and character. And if there are two things Alistair Grim prizes above all else in a person, it’s courage and character.”'

'After all, love is the most powerful Odditoria of them all, is it not?”'
Profile Image for Sally906.
1,374 reviews3 followers
February 5, 2015
Opening line: The odd was the ordinary at Alistair Grim’s.

With a title of ALISTAIR GRIM’S ODDITORIUM I should not have been surprised that this was, at times, a very odd book. Aimed at the 8 to 12 age group the adventure was quite complex at times, and I had a hard time keeping up with some of the events. I worried that kids in this age group might as well; but then again they will probably have more brain cells than me still.

The basis of the story follows the magical adventure of a young orphaned chimney sweep called Grubb. When he arrives at the Odditorium and is discovered and hauled in front of the owner, Mr Grim, Grubb is told that he can stay and work for Grim but is not to ask questions, is not to cause trouble and is certainly not to touch anything. Well, a houseful of strange glowing mechanical objects is just surely going to tempt a young 12-year-old boy and very quickly, after being befriended by a talking pocket-watch that keeps asking what the time is, Grubb is on a manic adventure to save the Odditorium from the evil Prince Nightshade, assisted by a banshee, a witch, a fairy and some very odd living devices that all call the Odditorium home.

There was a lot going on and the story was quite long with a muddle of events, things, information and characters all being thrown at me at once; I hardly had time to absorb what was going on. I didn’t have time to get to know the characters and there was certainly no growth in Grubb from beginning to end. However, his circumstances certainly changed and the great revelation at the end means there will be more changes ahead – and maybe the subsequent adventures in future books will allow for growth in his character. Every so often the plot did slow – mostly when Mr Grim had something to say – and then he talked, and talked, and then talked some more, info dumping until my eyes glazed over and I wanted the action back – as exhausting as it was. Just as well there was enough excitement going on to entice me to hang on through the info dump until the adventure got going again.

ALISTAIR GRIM’S ODDITORIUM was not a bad book don’t get me wrong, the illustrations were terrific, the plot was good, there was action, magic and a good cast; just not a cast that I felt at one with. It just didn’t grab me completely, something was missing for me and I can’t quite put my fingers on it. I didn’t really relate completely to any of the characters as there was not enough time to get to know anyone. ALISTAIR GRIM’S ODDITORIUM is the first in a series, and there were some loose ends which will lead into the next stage nicely. I would certainly read the next one when it comes out but at this stage there is no date or title on the horizon. If you are a fan of Fantasy and you don’t mind long books with lots going on then I recommend this one for you.

With thanks to the Disney Book Group and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

Profile Image for Benjamin Thomas.
1,953 reviews272 followers
January 8, 2015
Imagine you want to write a book for today’s youth, say ages 8-12, grades 3-7. It’s a tough assignment, choosing to compete with the multitudes of entertainment options kids have these days. And even if you can capture their attention with the idea of actually reading a book, well, how would you make yours stand out among all the competitors you will have?

Gregory Funaro surly thought through these issues when he first made the decision to write such a book. However he developed this project, he succeeded in spades. This one has great characters, both good and evil, that make you really care about what happens to them. It has magic and mystery and humor and loads of adventure. None of it is overdone but rather blends together in a nice old-fashioned rollicking adventure of a story. The illustrations are marvelous as well, reminding me of some of my old favorites from my own youth.

The main character of the story is a plucky young lad, known as Grubb (“spelled like the worm but with a double b, in case you plan on writing it down someday”), who is “12 years old or thereabouts.” He’s an orphan, and I know what you’re thinking. Not another book for young people about an orphan! But trust me; it’s crucial for the plot. Grubb is a chimney sweep, learning the profession from his less-than-ideal foster father but it isn’t long before he is off on a dangerous series of adventures with the likes of Alistair Grim and his associates. Central to the story, of course, is the titular “Odditorium” a fascinating construct that houses Mr. Grim’s collection of unusual and inexplicable enchanted oddities. It doubles as the living quarters for Mr. Grim and his friends, complete with an awesome library and a workshop that da Vinci would be at home in.

When beginning to write this review I was trying to think how to compare it to other famous stories for kids to try to describe what sort of book this is. I started with a combination of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Wizard of Oz books. But then I threw in a little of The Phantom Tollbooth except with more rapid-fire adventure. Add a pinch of Harry Potter and a dash of just about any steampunk novel you can name. In the end, I gave up, having realized that it’s really not comparable to anything I’ve read before. It’s uniquely imaginative.

As an older reader I can appreciate the themes that the author allows here. Grubb and his friends are rewarded for virtuous actions such as honesty and loyalty, and having the courage necessary to take the more dangerous but correct path. Grubb makes mistakes but works hard to make things right. Another important theme for Grubb is learning how it can be better to use his brain in a fight than any weapon or physical might.

This book is ideal to read aloud to kids or to have them read to you. It’s fast paced and will keep the interest level high but also has lots of cool gadgets and magical creatures. I won’t go into any detail on the magic system for fear of spoilers but I was happy to see just how well thought out and interdependent it is.

The main storyline concludes in this volume but there are several loose ends which will no doubt, continue to cause further mischief in future volumes in the series. It is very evident that young Master Grubb is just getting started. If you’re looking for an engaging, high quality book for your middle readers, this one’s a winner!
Profile Image for Elevetha .
1,769 reviews168 followers
April 7, 2015
The hodgiest hodge-podge of a book I've read in a long time. It had everything from Roman mythology to steampunk to fairies to sorcery to science-fiction to banshees to dragons, all set in London. It was a bit overwhelming, to be honest.

One thing that hooked me nearly immediately was the prose. I really enjoyed it. And despite the fact that you can't make heads nor tails of how everything interconnects, it is undeniably quite a fun hodgepodge and I'll be back for the second book.

Small nitpicks were that I disliked how Prince Nightshade randomly yelled "MINE!!!". And also that he lost any and all scariness at the end due to his silly actions, which didn't fit with the rest of his character. Eh. Oh, and I didn't honestly understand the Red/Purple Shadesmen thing. So Red Shadesmen are limited. Gotcha. But somehow if you have blue animus, and you add it to your LIMITED red animus, then BOOM, unlimited Purple Shadesmen?? I think I'm missing something here.


""Nigel chuckled to himself and lead me through..."
Page 116

Content: Young Grubb is the result of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. (which isn't so much content, but I don't usually expect MG to mention something like that so blatantly.)
Profile Image for Kirsten Barber.
69 reviews46 followers
December 7, 2015
Alistair Grim's Odditorium might be my favorite book of 2015. It's pretty early to say something like that, but I loved it. I read all 432 pages in the course of less than 24 hours in just a couple sittings. I literally could not put it down. Reading this gave me the feeling that I had as a kid reading the first Harry Potter book, of course with more of a steampunk twist.

Grubb was left on the doorstep of a chimney sweep when he was just a baby and doesn't remember anything before his life with his cruel, lazy master. Though the chimney sweep's wife was kind to him, after she passes away, his master half-starves Grubb and forces him to do the manual labor required by the profession while he drinks aways the earnings. One day, Grubb is made to clean dozens of chimneys in a large inn. After a debacle where he falls down the wrong chimney and straight into the innkeeper's punk sons, Grubb manages to escape and stow away in the coach belonging to the inn's guest. When the coach takes off, Grubb has no idea how his life will change forever. He emerges from the trunk to find himself in what's called the Odditorium, a magical place with an eccentric cast of characters who quickly adopt Grubb. But evil forces are lurking nearby, and when they attack the Odditorium, Grubb is forced into danger and adventure that he never could have anticipated. Though his only strengths against his enemies are his brains and his courage, Grubb must somehow defeat evil to save his new friends.

This book is a fast-paced steampunk adventure, with plenty of enthralling description and a slew of lovable characters. Other reviews on Goodreads complain that the large cast of characters might be confusing, but I didn't find it to be so at all. Funaro does include a list of characters with a brief description in the back of the book just in case, but I didn't need it at all.

I did find myself guessing some of the novel's twists as the book progressed, but they may come as a surprise for younger readers. Nevertheless, I loved getting there even when I knew what was coming.

The world that Funaro has created was so intricate and fun. I wanted to stay in it forever! There is so much detail but readers will relish the lengthy descriptions rather than feel bogged down. The illustrations in this book are amazing too. The detail is just incredible. I found myself wishing for more of them as I read. There is a satisfying enough climax for this to be book one, but I was definitely still wanting more when I finished. I can't wait for the second book to come out! I want to learn more about Grubb's backstory, the Odditorium, and how the other characters' problems will resolve. Is it January yet?

Ages 8-14
Profile Image for Aylee.
266 reviews66 followers
January 22, 2015
You can also read my review on my blog here.

In short: Alistair Grim's Odditorium is the start of an inventive and eccentric new series that is perfect for younger readers.

You all know I love me a quirky Middle Grade read with a cute illustrated cover! I fall for them every time. And so when I was given the opportunity to read Alistair Grim's Odditorium and found out that it was about a poor orphan who gets carried off into a wondrous and strange new world, well I couldn't resist now, could I? It's like Harry Potter with steampunk elements! Well, sort of.

There were definitely some elements in Alistair Grim's Odditorium that were reminiscent of Harry Potter, which I loved. Namely the whimsy and eccentricity of the magical odditoria and the colourful cast of characters. Alistair Grim's Odditorium is no copycat though, thankfully. It was definitely very inventive on its own. This book is the first in an intended series and I'd be curious to see where the story goes from here, as the set-up in this first book leaves room for more adventures to come and some questions to be answered.

If I had one critique it would be that this is a book meant for younger readers. Well, but didn't you know that this was MG going into it?, you may ask. Yes, I did, but I am of the firm belief that the best MG reads can be appreciated and enjoyed by all age groups, not just their intended audience. I felt that the characters in Alistair Grim's Odditorium were definitely lacking in complexity and development and the plot was pretty predictable. BUT it was still a super cute read that I would definitely recommend to younger readers!
Profile Image for Raf.
218 reviews13 followers
September 9, 2020
7.5⭐ out of 8⭐
Keywords: middle grade, fairy, older mentor, orphan, magic house

Alistair Grim's Odditorium is a middle grade fantasy book, so when you read it you have to keep it in mind that this book target audiences are children.

The story of this book opened up with a fairy tale-like vibes. The story is told from first point of view of it's main character, chimney sweep named Grubb. Due to its target audience, the narrative is using simpler english, that non-native like me can easily understand what's conveyed. Aside from the easy to comprehend narrative, the book also filled with beautiful arts.

The story itself is quite great. The adventure is fun and joyful. Though the villains is always truly evil. The good and bad is very black and white in here. The pace of the book is not bad, the characterizations are moderate, and the rest is so-so.

The cons are probably how many stereotypes we can found in this book. But once again this book is not targeted for adults, it's middle grade.

If you are a youngster who wanted to find a good adventure, then this book is the one for you. If you are an adults who want to learn english or want to find some leisure reads to relax with, then this is for you. Or if you just like children fantasy book in general, this is definitely good for you.
Profile Image for Nicole M. Hewitt.
1,422 reviews282 followers
June 16, 2019
My full dual review with my friend Danielle can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction

A wacky and adventurous MG romp through a magical world! 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. And everyone who lives at the Odditorium, a group of ragtag magical characters, made for a wonderful found family! One of my favorite characters was the hilariously strange sentient pocketwatch! Forgiveness is an important theme in the book, one that I don't think we see enough of.

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!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via BEA in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Profile Image for Ruby.
606 reviews49 followers
August 10, 2015
Alright, I need to expand this review. One because of my love for this series and two because my daughter just read it again. She really loves it too.

The Odditoruim blends fantasy with Steampunk with adventure to bring forth a brilliant story filled with twists and turns to give us a tale we can fall in again and again. You learn and laugh with Grubb, an orphan saved from drowning bu the yellow fairy as he begins this tale as a simple chimney sweep. Yes, it had me singing "Chim-Chimeree." To escape his evil foster dad, he jumps in a trunk hoping to go unnoticed until the nearest town. What he gets in return is a one way ticket to the most extraordinary house he has ever seen.

Along the way you meet a plethora of characters as unique and odd as the Odditorium itself. Each one with a grand story to tell filled with danger and intrigue. Great for younger readers, I found it fun as an adult... as did my 14 year old daughter. She as I said read it twice. Give this a chance and pick up the second when it comes out.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
5,145 reviews188 followers
November 2, 2014
I have read some of this author's suspense/horror novels and enjoyed them all thus far. I was intrigued to read this author's children/young adult series. Let me tell you that Mr. Funaro is the real deal. He can write. Some authors that I have read have tried to make the leap to this genre and have not been as successful in my eyes.

Instantly, I was transported to this magical world of Odditorium. I did not want to leave this world. Luckily I won't have to as this book is just the first one in the series. This book is more than just a book. It is an adventure filled with magic, wonder, excitement, great characters and villains. I could picture this series being turned into a television series or movies. However the way Mr. Funaro writes, it was like watching the movie version while reading this book. I look forward to seeing more of Grubb as I know there is more to him than meets the eye. Alistair Grim's Odditorium is a not to be missed! It is one of the best books of 2015.
Profile Image for Skip.
3,288 reviews395 followers
June 1, 2016
A middle school fantasy book about a young orphan (Grubb) adopted by a chimney sweep's wife, who becomes a slave to the sweep when she dies. He escapes that life by hiding in a trunk, and is whisked away to London, where he finds himself in a strange environment with odd people and things, such as an ever-broken pocketwatch. They are kind to Grubb, and he eventually becomes a loyal apprentice there. This book is an entertaining collection of characters, magic, themes, and even, genres. Probably a 3.75. Nice illustrations by Vivienne To.
Profile Image for Brandy Painter.
1,606 reviews229 followers
March 10, 2018
Originally posted here at Random Musings of Bibliophile.

Alistair Grim's Odditorium by Gregory Funaro is a mixture of magic and mystery with a whole lot of adventure and familiar aspects fantasy lovers will recognize.

Grub was raised by the wife of chimney sweep. He has no idea who is true parents are. When the lovely woman who has been the only mother he's known dies, his life becomes a drudgery of work as the sweep's apprentice. One day after a making a mess while being bullied Grub knows he has to run and he hides in the trunk of a mysterious stranger. Upon arriving at the stranger's house, Grub is discovered and finds himself in the position of keeping strange secrets, living in an odd house, and being beholden to the mysterious stranger named Alistair Grim. Grim has a collection of objects he calls odditoria that possess magical properties. These items fuel the energy the home runs on, but the magic is dangerous and could attract exactly the wrong sort of notice. When Grub accidentally allows some of the magic out into the world, this is exactly what happens. Now the Black Fairy, shadesmen, and the malevolent Prince Nightshade know the Odditorium exists and they are coming after its inhabitants. Fleeing for their lives and engaged in an epic battle, Alistair Grim and Grub both have decisions to make about what is truly important and many secrets will be revealed.

There is a lot going on this book and it is quite long. The plot is an intense one with a lot of action sure to please fans of adventure. There are many places where the action comes to a complete halt so that Alistair Grim can have lengthy conversations with various other characters in which he talks and talks and talks and explains. And explains some more. Some exposition is always necessary when introducing an audience to a new world, but I feel like there are better ways to do it that don't bring the action to a screeching halt every thirty pages or so for an info-dump clumsily discussed as a conversation. These parts slow the book down, and became annoying the further I read. Despite these parts, I was pulled into the story's more exciting elements and continued to read to the end. The tempered my enjoyment, but didn't entirely kill it. There was enough intrigue and fascinating elements that I definitely wanted to get all the way to the end.

I did enjoy the characters. Grub is a little too trusting of everyone, and follows a typical fantasy arc, but he is a likeable hero and does many brave things. Alistair Grim is unpredictable and full of energy, driven by a haunting past and bordering on obsessive. Despite all this, I found him to be rather uninteresting. Maybe it's because of the exposition he's always doing. It is the larger supporting cast of characters that truly captured my heart. I won't say much more to avoid spoilers, but the other inhabitants of the Odditorium are the fascinating ones. I loved them all.

For fans of fantasy who aren't intimidated by long books, this is this perfect choice.

I read a galley provided by the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, via NetGalley. Alistair Grim's Odditorium will be available for purchase January 6.
Profile Image for Sharon Tyler.
2,718 reviews30 followers
April 11, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Aeicha .
832 reviews101 followers
March 21, 2015
When young chimney sweep, Grubb, runs away from his cruel master and stows away in the carriage of one mysterious Alistair Grim, he sets off on an unbelievable adventure. Alistair Grim is the creator and owner of the Odditorium, a wondrous place full of enchanted objects and people, all run by the energy of a strange blue light. Grim makes Grubb his apprentice and Grubb finds himself a new, loving family. But when a dangerous enemy sets out to steal the blue energy, Grubb must find his courage to save the Odditorium and his new family.

Oh my goodness, I LOVED this book! Gregory Funaro has spun a spectacular fantasy tale full of thrills, adventure, intrigue, and charming characters. Alistair Grim’s Odditorium is a wonderful explosion of imagination, stellar storytelling, and perfect world-building. With a pitch-perfect middle-grade voice that’s part endearing and part wit, I found myself completely dazzled by this book. Funaro effortlessly combines fantasy, science, mystery, adventure, and heart to create a smart, compelling story. Alistair Grim’s Odditorium is fantasy world-building at its best! This world is whimsical, daring, captivating, gorgeous, and just plain fun. From fairies, witches, trolls, magical objects, ninja girls, samurais, flying buildings, inter-dimensional space jumps, and so much more, Funaro fills this world to the brim with incredible things.

And this wondrous world is filled with equally incredible people. The Odditorium is home to one of the most eclectic, eccentric, and heart-warming groups I’ve every met! From sweet, brave Grubb to wildly odd Alistair Grim, kind Nigel, snarktastic Mrs. Pinch, fun-loving Cleona, and a talking pocket watch name Mack, Funaro has given readers so many awesome, engaging characters to love. And the bad-guys, from a dark fairy, evil prince, zombie-like minions, and other nasty creatures, are deliciously bad.

Alistair Grim’s Odditorium takes both readers and young Grubb on a fantastical adventure full of enchanting magic, thrilling peril, exciting action, and whole lot of heart!

my final thoughts: Alistair Grim’s Odditorium is everything you could want, and then some, in a middle-grade fantasy! From lovable characters, excellent world-building, and sparkling storytelling, this is one marvelous book that will delight and amaze young readers!
Profile Image for Ionia.
1,430 reviews66 followers
November 22, 2014
I loved this book, and my kids thought it was fantastic--which makes me love it even more. If you can get an eight and nine year old to pay attention to anything for more than half a second then you know the author must be doing something right.

This book speaks to the imagination of kids (and adults, or at least this one.) The humour is appropriate for middle grade and lower kids and as a parent, I was impressed with the writing, as it didn't seem to be stunted or less intellectual than a book intended for adults. I like it when my kids can read something that challenges them and teaches them a wider range of vocabulary, and you get that with this book.

The story is full of adventure and doesn't stop until the last page is read. The main character is unique and quirky, and just as exciting as you want a good, unlikely hero to be.

If you have kids that are reluctant readers, this would be a good book to help them get interested in reading.

Five stars well deserved.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Helen (pagesandpeaches).
265 reviews7 followers
December 7, 2017
This book was fantastically imaginative and thoroughly enjoyable. I really loved the idea of the odditorium idea and animus magic. This was a beautiful story that kids and adults will like.

My favourite character was Cleona because she was a banshee and she was very responsible and sweet. The character I didn't feel was necessary was the Black Fairy because he wasn't really in a lot of the story, but who knows maybe I'll appreciate him more in the second book.
Profile Image for Amy.
412 reviews7 followers
April 1, 2015
Spotted this on the street -- someone was giving away a heap of YA advance reader copies and couldn't resist this one. Orphaned chimney sweep hides in fancy carriage and is swept off to London where he becomes an inhabitant of the Odditorium, a strange building powered by magic. Plot rattled along and all rollicking good fun, but the color-mixing combinations got a bit trying (blue magic + red magic = purple magic, etc).
Profile Image for Cathi.
272 reviews
November 16, 2018
I accidentally read the second one first. I recommend that this one be read first though. Kids about 10-15 will like the adventure story and it's a fast, easy read.
Profile Image for Claudia {SparrowHawk}.
143 reviews22 followers
October 23, 2015

Alistair Grim’s Odditorium is an abundantly rich and imaginative narrative set in a world where unusual flying machines and extraordinary characters endlessly entertain and boggle the mind. Oddly enough, you do not mind whether these elements make sense or not as this is truly a story that reaches the imagination – I really liked it!
+ The fanciful world of Alistair Grim’s Odditorium is visually stunning and highly creative – it’s bizarre, imaginative, and cleverly envisioned. As for the Odditorium itself, well, there’s no real way to express how truly unusual it really is, other than it is a mishmash of arranged trinkets, pipes, conduits, hinges, and whatnot ― all infused with a bit of magic of course. It’s utterly mind-boggling to piece together, but intriguing all the same

+ While not as awe-inspiring as I had hoped, the plot was unique and emotional at times; quite frankly, this is what I cherished most about the plot, its emotional undertone and how it didn’t need to get into a great deal of logic in order to emit its significance. That is to say, the story inspires without being preachy, and in this way, the prose comes across as simple, intriguing, and it leaves a memorable aftertaste

+ It’s impossible not to share in our protagonist Grubb’s sorrows and hardships; especially when it concerns his early childhood years and the oppression he was left to face at such a young age. Despite these afflictions, however, we see the value and the lessons each one fostered and you come to truly admire his character arc ― notably his humility and servitude

+ Alistair Grim’s Odditorium abounds with unimaginable characters: a talking pocket watch, samurai knights, a husky man in goggles, black and yellow fairies, trolls, goblins, dragons, flying machines, banshee’s, and sirens to name a few ― each one extraordinary in their own way. Moreover, Gregory Funaro’s ability to fashion these fantastical characters from mythological stories we know all too well is remarkable. At times, it felt as though I was reading these familiar stories for the first time; particularly the rather dark and beautiful scenes of a world at war

+ The writing is well-rounded and simple but not dumbed down to its readers. I absolutely loved the way Gregory Funaro added an English flavor to the writing as well – it truly gave the book a London feel so to speak. Too, the first-person narration was captivating – it is charged with enough emotion to beckon you into Grubb’s world of adventures

+ The quality and presentation of the book is wondrous. There are illustrations peppered throughout the book that add a little more to the overall reading experience. You can see a few pictures I shared here

- Owing to the bizarre and unusual anomalies, the supporting characters felt somewhat disjointed. Often times, they would go from one emotion to the next with no real convincing transition. As a result, their emotions and their plights were not as concerning to me and regrettably I found myself disregarding them. Not only that but there were more than a few clunky moments where the circumstances surrounding Grubb served more as a stumbling block than an avenue to resolve his qualms

- To boot, as enchanting as this book may be, it failed at holding my attention for long periods of time. Typically, I am able to read a book within a one week period, but this book took me almost a month to finish! Every time I would pick up the book, I found my thoughts escaping me. Perhaps it was the multiple layers it unfolded? Or was it perhaps the teeming characters that were introduced which were difficult to keep track of?

Granting the books minor enigmas, Alistair Grim’s Odditorium was a pretty good story. The unrelenting surrealism left me mesmerized enough to get to the end and I am looking forward to reading book two in the series.

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Profile Image for Gina (My Precious Blog).
473 reviews21 followers
February 9, 2015
A solid four star middle grade book featuring a chimney sweep called Grubb (with two B's), who is twelve or "thereabouts". Why two B's you may ask? Well, the extra "B" is for a blessing. He was left on the doorstep of a childless couple, Mr and Mrs Cleary as a wee baby. Mrs Cleary loved and cared for him well, embracing this gift with open arms. When Grubb reached the tender age of six, Mrs Cleary unexpectedly died. His stepfather, Mr Cleary, didn't hold similar sentiment for him. He thought of him a as a burden. After Mrs Cleary's death, Grubb was barely fed (to keep him skinny and able to fit in the chimneys), made to sleep in a cold barn with a mule, and beat just for fun. One day, while sweeping chimney's for a wealthy client, Grubb causes a whole lot of trouble. Unable to recover from the devastation, he stows away in a trunk, eventually ending up in Alistair Grim's Auditorium. This is where the story takes off.

This book begins quite slow and leans towards being slightly boring. Writing style reminded of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. There were fun illustrations which helped moved the story along, too. At about 15-20%, the pace picks up and its pretty much action packed until the last page is turned. Its a long book, but it didn't feel like a tedious read. Told in a first person narrative, from Grubb's perspective, his story details an amazing, action packed journey.

Grubb, the main character is absolutely charming. It would be crazy not to fall in love with this young boy. He is polite, kind and hard working. His situation was grave, yet he rarely complained. He continued to work hard for his stepfather, despite horrific living conditions and abuse. I was touched how he even found it in his heart to take pity on Mr Cleary, especially right after Mrs Cleary passed. As the story progressed, we also find out Grubb is brave, honest and selfless. He's a great role model for youngsters.

Alisair Grim is a wealthy man. At the start he seems like a crazy old bat searching the globe for magical items. I wasn't sure if he was going to be good to Grubb or not. His character is revealed slowly throughout the story, along with the secrets of the Odditorium (his mechanical house). I do have to say as I read more, this man grew on me. In the end, I liked him very much.

Nigel Stout, Alistair's coachman is a large bald guy who wears black goggles. Mysterious and odd, it took me a while to trust him. I thought he had potential to be kind or an ogre. This guy has plenty of secrets which were fun to uncover along the way.

Prince Nightshade is the villain in the book. He's not a real prince, he just calls himself one. He competes against Alistair in trying to collect magical items. They both are in search of the second Eye of Mars. However, his use for it is of course for evil, not good.

My favorite character in the entire story was Dougal "Mack" McClintock, the Scottish pocket watch who never seems to be able to keep the correct time. Each time the watch is opened, Mack has blacked out and doesn't have a clue what time it is or what's been going in his absent state. Mack ends up playing a big part in the story. His humorous demeanor makes him very enjoyable.

This is a story which starts off a little slow, but patient readers will be greatly rewarded. This book has a little bit of everything, Red Dragons, a Yellow Fairy, a Banshee, Samuri's, sirens, shadesmen and much, much more! It screams entertainment and I think it should capture the attention of even the most reluctant readers. It reads like a fantasy with steampunk elements infused into the plot lines. The only drawback for me was I thought the battle and action scenes were very complex and difficult to form pictures of in my mind. The ending has an unusual twist. I'd say its slightly predictable to me, but I think the intended audience will not be able to suspect it like I did. At the close of this story, the original adventure wraps up, but I do believe there is quite a bit in store for Grubb in the not so distant future.

Profile Image for Andi S.
301 reviews9 followers
December 20, 2014
1. The hero, Grubb, is amazing!

Grubb encounters a hard life. He doesn’t know where he came from, but he lives with Mr. and Mrs. Smears. Mrs. Smears is a lovely woman who treats Grubb (like the worm, but with double b’s in case you wanted to write it down) like her own son. She loves him fiercely, then she dies. After her death, he is faced with Mr. Smears who is ruthlessly cruel and employs Grubb as a chimney sweep. He doesn’t feed the boy, because he thinks Grubb will get too fat to fit up into the chimneys he’s sweeping. Throughout all of this, Grubb is a nice boy. He’s our narrator and our hero, and I just want to hug him. The poor boy has suffered a hard life and is rewarded with this crazy adventure. The adventure itself is an accident, and through it all, Grubb maintains his positive outlook and his manners. He addresses everyone as “sir” and “miss.” He’s brave and modest – every time something good happens to him, he marvels at his miraculous fortune. He’s absolutely brilliant and I was never annoyed by him (other than when he couldn’t run because his legs were “frozen in fear”). He’s just the cutest little hero ever, and I adored him.

2. The Odditorium is so awesome!

At first, the Odditorium seems scary. It is covered in black paint and it is quite daunting, even to the imagination. When Grubb finds himself inside the Odditorium with Mr. Grim, he is petrified. He is used to receiving beatings, and he expects the same from Mr. Grim, especially when he makes mistakes. But Mr. Grim is the complete opposite of Mr. Smears. The Odditorium itself seemed like a character to me, because we know next to nothing about the building until about halfway through the book. I loved the mystery surrounding the Odditorium and its inhabitants. There are secret passageways and forbidden doors and spectacular residents contained inside, and I loved this so much.

3. The pictures in this book are so awesome! I didn’t expect them, and they impressed me every time I stumbled upon one.

This book does a great job of description without the use of pictures, but the well drawn portraits inside only help you to dive into this story’s world. They appear maybe once per chapter and they are great! I read this as a digital ARC, so they may look different in print, but even on my Kindle they were so great! They almost reminded me of the drawings in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. They were in black and white, and they only helped my mind wrap around the crazy stuff that happened in this book.

4. The adventure is so amazing.

This book dragged a bit for me in the beginning. There is a lot of build up. When Grubb first starts narrating, he tends to get ahead of himself before he’s explained anything, so even if you feel like the book is lagging, you remember the explanation Grubb promised you. As soon as the madness starts, it doesn’t stop. It really did keep me hooked until the end. I can’t tell you much about the adventure, but just know it deals with people brought back from the dead, fairies, sirens, trolls, dragons, and a ninja. Intrigued? I was, too.

5. Prince Nightshade is an awesome villain.

Although Prince Nightshade is a villain, I actually kind of liked him. Yes, he is evil and out to destroy the world, but he has some human elements that made me actually like him. He treats Grubb with respect (other than the normal villain stuff), but he is also untrustworthy. Is the kindness real, or a trick? I didn’t find out in this book, but I bet I will in the next installment. Prince Nightshade has ambition and I like that in both a hero and a villain.

OVERALL: FIVE STARS!! What a fun adventure for a middle grade! This had a lot of magic and mythology involved and I loved Mr. Grim as the mysterious “sorcerer” and crazy guy in town. If you want a fun, magic filled ride, then this is definitely the book for you. So much thought and creativity went into this book, and I was definitely impressed.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
34 reviews13 followers
January 2, 2016

There are some books you come across that compel you to swear off reading for a while, and there are books that shortly after reading are forgotten. Then there are books that you devour so quickly that you go out and buy the rest of the series just so there won’t be an end. If there was a second book to go out and buy, Odditorium would fall into the latter category.

Okay, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Odditorium is told from the perspective of Grubb, “spelled like the worm but with a double b, in case you need to write it down some day.” He’s a twelve or thereabouts year old chimney sweep who hasn’t had the best lot in life. After a slight misunderstanding and a quick stowaway, Grubb finds himself in the Odditorium, also known as the house of Alistar Grim. Mr. Grim offers Grubb a job, place to live, and food in exchange for Grubb never speaking of what goes on inside the Odditorium. Naturally Grubb agrees because it’s either this, or the workshops that are notoriously bad places.

However, he does not realize that by agreeing, he’s entered a world where the odd is normal, and the normal odd. You see, the Odditorium just happens to be a house that can fly, and is powered by a force called animus. When Grubb accidentally allows some of the animus to escape, havoc begins as Prince Nightshade, an evil magician of sorts, hunts down Grubb, the animus, and the Odditorium. In a place where fairies are real, banshees play tricks, and a pocket watch is his best friend, will Grubb and his friends be able to defeat the prince? Or will he too, become part of the dead army of Prince Nightshade?

This book caught my attention from page one. The style is very Lemony Snicket in the dark undertones, large words, and general flow, but with a dash of Harry Potter tossed in. Don’t let that make you believe this is just another magical kids’ book to pass over though, Funaro brings a new twist to the table. His prose sucks you in, and before you know it, the book is over, and you’re left waiting and wanting for the next. He does a wonderful job of taking to this world, and creating a sense of awe and wonder at every turn.

If we are looking for things that are potentially hazardous to your enjoyment to this book, there is a lot that is tossed at the reader at first. The themes are a little more mature than the average books found for late elementary to middle school aged readers. As an older reader, the main plot twist was foreseeable, however how we got there wasn’t so much. Honestly, those are my only complaints, and they really aren’t even complaints.

Overall, it is a fantastic book that I would, and have been, recommending to readers of all ages. It is fun, dark, surprising, and whimsical in all the ways one could hope a book about a chimney sweep with a worm’s name could be. It is a must read for all fans of fantasy, Disney, and books. Plus, there are pictures in the book that are pretty damn sweet.

I’m not going to lie, shortly after finishing this book, I picked it up and read it again. It was that good. Also I was looking for things to nitpick so this review wouldn’t be overly fangirl. This is just one of those books that is so good it’ll keep you reading way past your bedtime. If it doesn’t get turned into a movie (preferably directed by Burton), I will be sorely disappointed. I loved it, it will forever remain on my shelf. Go out and get this book as soon as possible. It’s well worth the read.


Profile Image for Ekta.
Author 14 books30 followers
January 7, 2015
A young boy escapes his life as a chimney sweep and finds himself carried away—literally—to a fantastic place where he meets a mysterious man with unusual talents. The boy joins the man’s coterie and becomes his apprentice, but the apprenticeship only marks the beginning of the boy’s adventures. Author Greg Funaro gives middle grade readers this ambitious but somewhat uneven story in Alistair Grim’s Odditorium.

Twelve-year-old Grubb doesn’t remember his parents. For as long as he’s known, he’s lived with Mr. and Mrs. Smears. When Mrs. Smears dies, however, Grubb’s life changes; gone is the affection he gets from the motherly figure in his life. Instead, Mr. Smears trains Grubb in the ways and work of a chimney sweep, and Grubb has no illusions about why Mr. Smears teaches him about the profession: Grubb does the dirty work, and Mr. Smears drinks away Grubb’s pay.

On a day that seems ordinary, Grubb finds himself in a position to get away from Mr. Smears and his days cleaning soot and grime from inside brick columns. Grubb takes his chances and leaves. He doesn’t know where he’s going, only that anything has to be better than life as Mr. Smear’s lackey.

Grubb realizes, however, that his new life has its own challenges. He ends up at Alistair Grim’s Odditorium, where pocket watches ask what time it is and samurai warriors with blue lights for eyes guard secrets. Alistair Grim himself seems to pull magic out of his socks, and Grubb doesn’t know quite what to think of it all. When Mr. Grim gets cornered into displaying the wonders of his Odditorium for the public, Grubb thinks he can help—until a small mistake throws all of Mr. Grim’s plans off course. Suddenly Grubb goes from being Mr. Grim’s apprentice to being the only one who can save the Odditorium at all.

Author Gregory Funaro creates fun, relatable characters. Readers will enjoy Grubb’s storytelling style; he knows when to defer to others in a sweet, smile-inducing manner. Funaro gives readers a main character who is easy to cheer for and one with redeeming qualities from the start of the book to its end.

Grubb tells the story in first person, and Funaro maintains that fine line between too much information from his protagonist and not enough information from the other characters. Readers won’t feel like they’re missing anything from either Grubb or the characters around him. They might wonder, though, why Grubb is telling the story when the book’s title contains the name of a different character.

The book’s weakest point comes in the descriptions of the Odditorium’s “wonders” as well as the action scenes. Funaro offers too much information in both, making the action hard to track and some of the wonders in the Odditorium hard to understand. Some of the younger readers in the 8-12 target audience may get a little frustrated with all of the information. Also, the climax feels rushed, and the ambivalent end may make readers wonder whether they should look forward to a sequel.

Still, the book does offer some enjoyable moments. Readers may want to check Alistair Grim’s Odditorium out from the library.
Profile Image for Charles.
Author 65 books120 followers
January 5, 2015
Stuff I Read - Alistair Grim's Odditorium by Gregory Funaro Review

This book does have a somewhat charming voice, I'll give it that. It's written a bit like a Dickens novel with a plunky orphan out to make his way in the world. But where Dickens has a tendency to complicate matter, this book settles for doing things by-the-numbers, everything where it's expecting, without a lot of surprise or suspense. I mean, sure, there is a lot of action. The book is a fast read despite being so long. And for kids maybe that's all it needs to do, provide some fun and take its bow. But I had hoped for a bit more, and was left a bit wanting by the end.

The characters have such promise. Even Grubb, who is fairly standard orphan fare, is more mischievous than I would have thought. He is a bit more independent and rebellious. Not all of the things that happen to him are his fault, but he does get into trouble all on his own. That, at least, was nice to see, but once the ball got rolling with the plot that aspect of his character disappeared and instead he was being whisked from one catastrophe to the next without any sort of power, really.

Perhaps it was to show that he will grow and do more in the later books, but in this first one there's a lot going on that Grubb has to play catch-up the entire time. Explanations do come, but often they are after-the-fact to inflate the tension which just never really felt that high. It seems obvious that Grubb is what he turns out to be. It's not exactly a subtle point, and that it takes so long for the book to acknowledge it made me a little impatient, because it's like everyone should be able to connect some dots, especially Grubb, but he doesn't. Maybe he's too distracted, but one would figure, with his life, that he'd be incredibly curious about certain things.

But I digress. It's a good enough plot, and a good cast, and there's action and the setting it fairly well done. I didn't really feel that the disparate elements from Japanese mythology and English mythology and Native American Mythology really meshed, but it was fun to see. There just wasn't all that much new. A bad judge, an evil villain, and a ragtag team of good guys. It all worked, but I guess I'm just getting to where I want more than that. Not that the book was bad, just that it didn't get me too excited, and so I'm giving it a 6.25/10.
Profile Image for Karissa.
3,916 reviews192 followers
December 18, 2014
I got a copy of this book to review through NetGalley. It’s obviously the first book in a planned series, since there are some large issues that aren’t resolved in this book. It was an okay book; there were some very neat things in here but at times there was just too much thrown at the reader. This is a middle grade fantasy with some adventure.

Grubb is an apprentice chimney sweep who has to deal with cruel insults and abuse from his adoptive father/master. Everything changes when one day Grubb stows away in an empty truck on a carriage and ends up in the crazy Odditorium of Alistar Grim. Grubb has no idea of the adventure that is in store for him as he discovers the wonders inside the Odditorium.

This is a middle grade fantasy of sorts. Actually it's a bit of a mishmash of a lot of different things. There is some magic, some science, a ghost, some teleportation, an evil Prince, and an orphan boy with a mysterious past. This appears to be the first book in a series, because many things are left unresolved at the end of the story.

I think part of my trouble with this book was that it was a mishmash of so many things and they are thrown at the reader so quickly. There wasn't enough character development so I had trouble engaging with the characters and really caring about what was happening to them.

There are some very cool things in here. I loved Grim's Odditorium and all the quirky things in it. I enjoyed all the crazy different characters as well. I had some trouble picturing all the quirky things though because they weren't described that well.

There is also some very nice artwork throughout the story (it was a bit hard to see in the review copy I had). I definitely want to pick up a final copy at some point and at least look at the art work.

The story is decently done. Parts are interesting but there are also some really predictable parts. For example the mystery behind Grubb's real parents, I thought this was very predictable and very typical of this type of middle grade fantasy story.

Overall this was an interesting read, but not as good as some other middle grade fantasies out there. This book reminded me a bit of The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas, but I think that series is much better.
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