Publisher: Alma Books
Released: September 15th 2015
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Twelve-year-old Grubb lives a hand-to-mouth existence in Victorian England, working as a chimney sweep under a cruel master. After an incident at an inn, he hides in the trunk of one of its guests, the enigmatic Alistair Grim, and is whisked away to his Odditorium, a wonderful flying house full of incredible mechanical features powered by an enigmatic substance called animus. Now apprenticed to Grim, Grubb begins to settle into his new life and find a new family in the eccentric crew of the Odditorium, when suddenly his new world comes under attack by the evil Prince Nightshade and he is propelled into a perilous quest. As he gets caught up in the struggle, Grubb will learn valuable lessons and discover remarkable secrets about himself and his new host. (from Goodreads)
Alistair Grim’s Odditorium was unexpectedly fun and different! It was definitely odd, but very enjoyable, and I think it’d appeal to children and adults alike.
Grubb was a very likeable main character, and I loved his voice as the older narrator looking back on his younger years. Older Grubb certainly seemed very different to younger Grubb in some aspects, so I was very intrigued as to what happened to him as he grew up! I’m already excited to find out, and am very much looking forward to the next book. I do wish we had seen a bit more of Grubb’s personality - it was obvious he was a good kid who’d had a tough childhood, but a lot of his dialogue was crying out after someone, or exclamation, which didn’t really enable as much conversation as I’d have liked. But apart from that, Grubb was a great character to follow!
Mr Grim was an oddball, to say the least. He seemed like a good person deep down but he definitely was not above using people for his own means. I did like him but not quite as much as I wanted to. He had an interesting backstory though. Very interesting. I guessed a few things, but much does still remain a mystery, which I suppose will be explored in book two. His search for odditoria had me intrigued and I was generally interested in how odditoria and animus worked (though the explanations weren’t as detailed or clear as they could have been - but then that would have made it a bit too complicated for a book aimed at a younger audience).
I really liked all the other characters as well, especially Nigel, who probably had one of the saddest histories. The Yellow Fairy and Cleona were other interesting characters too, and I hope we get to find out more about them in the second book! Mack, the talking pocketwatch, was nothing but trouble, but I ended up liking him anyway, because how could you not? And who on Earth was the Prince Nightshade? I had no guesses. He seemed to know a lot about everything though, which was rather scary.
Plot-wise, I really enjoyed the adventures of Grubb and the other residents of the Odditorium! Some things were a bit predictable but still good to read about and I think the ending was great because it opened up many possibilities! I have no idea what will happen in future books (apart from Mr Grim carrying out his original goal) but I look forward to finding out. I also loved the illustrations by Chris Mould, they really added to the quirky feel of the book!
Overall, Alistair Grim’s Odditorium was an enjoyable read that I think would really appeal to fans of maybe Artemis Fowl (though it’s quite different, I get a similar vibe), the Bartimaeus series or anyway who likes a good story about magic.