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.
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. This book comes out on January 6th, 2015 so click the link below to pre-order!