Alistair Grim’s Odditorium, by Gregory Funaro (Jan 2015, Disney-Hyperion), $16.99, ISBN: 9781484700068
Recommended for ages 9-12
Poor Grubb. He’s 12 – or thereabouts, and leads a pretty miserable existence. He was a foundling, and the woman who took him in died, leaving him at the mercy of her drunk, abusive husband, who feeds him only enough to keep him from starving and forces him to work as a chimney sweep. After he stows away in a trunk to hide from his master/stepfather after an on-the-job incident, he discovers Alistair Grim and his Odditorium, a weird and wonderful place where he meets a young prankster, an honest-to-goodness fairy, a talking pocket watch, and a samurai army powered by blue energy. Right after the mysterious Mr. Grim agrees to take him on as an apprentice, the Odditorium falls under attack, and it’s up to Grubb to make sure that the mysterious blue energy doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Alistair Grim’s Odditorium is a fun steampunk read for fantasy fans. Grubb is the classic orphan protagonist, whose origin is surrounded in mystery; Mr. Grim is the mysterious benefactor who takes him in to teach him his magic. There are automatons, there are evil forces, there’s good vs. evil, and a mysterious aether-type magic. All the elements are there, and Mr. Funaro makes them blend together to provide an exciting story that kids will love.
The author’s webpage offers a bio and links to social media, information about the Odditorium, and contact information.