Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Alistair Grim's Odditorium
Disclaimer: This book will be published on January 6, 2015. I read the uncorrected advance proof; undoubtedly there will be minor differences between the version I read and the published story.
This book was a bit young for me; I resolved to give it a go and then even as things got a bit toooooooooo contrived/campy/suddenly well placed dialogue/etc, I had a peculiar need to validate my guesses with how it ended.
....so....an amazon summary, "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." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE
That amazon summary was pretty spot on. Saves me some legwork. Mmm-hmm.....
So this story was neat as there were images scattered throughout the book; this didn't really deter me from the story (as they often do) but better set the tone of the story. It's just something I found mildly surprising when the first one popped up in the midst of text.
I was alarmed at how many characters throughout the story would humor Grubb when he was being a bit thick. They would tell Grubb some little factoid about magic/the way the magic works and he'd essentially repeat it back to them before they'd be all, "THAT'S RIGHT GRUBB!" with implied giant grins on their faces. As if everyone else in the world usually muddles up repeating what was said to them. ....there was a lot of implied intellectual thickness throughout the story.
Plus, it was mildly alarming how often the adults would let children be in alarmingly dangerous situations. Mr. Grim at one point was like, "Go pass out the flyers and make sure no animus leaves this building for unexplained reasons!" Grubb would go off....with animus....and suddenly hounds appeared that basically ate your soul.
There were a lot of little nuances given to different ideas throughout the story and it came to a point where I "knew" how the story ended and basically tapped my foot as I waited for all the meaningless action to subside to reveal the end/major plot point.
Much of the humor throughout the book was very pointed out - there wasn't a whole lot that warranted a stray chuckle or two. There were characters that seemed very confined to an archetype, magic that was very confined in nature (which it's magic, so what?), and the Odditorium itself didn't come across as alarmingly unusual either.
The one gripe I truly have about this story is that there's no clear take away. There's no call to arms, moral, or strong finish; it had one of those endings where the author seemed to sit back and think, "Nah, that's all you really need to know". WHICH could lend itself to sequels (I hope not....I don't see how much more could be built off the first story without spiraling out of control with new characters or breaking the Odditorium).
Otherwise, as a stand alone, this was very shrug worthy.