Disney Hyperion, January 5, 2016
Source: ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Gregory Funaro mixes steampunk with the fantasy worlds of Avalon in this sequel to the Alistair Grim series. Grubb's father is none other than the Alistair Grim, inventor, mad scientist, sorcerer, collector of Odditoria--you name it. Grubb is now his apprentice and they are on a mission to stop the evil Prince Nightshade. Doing so will require a trip to the legendary Avalon to acquire the sword Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake. Only then will Alistair Grim be able to stop Prince Nightshade and clear his own name.
When I requested this ARC from Netgalley I wasn't aware that it was a sequel. If I had been aware, I probably wouldn't have requested it, but I'm glad that I did. Although it's obvouis that this is a sequel, the author does a terrific job of catching those of us up who haven't read it before without seeming too annoying and back story heavy. I never felt lost or as if I had missed too much to understand what was going on. That being said, I believe that there is quite a lot more that I would have been able to enjoy and make connections to if I had read the previous book.
There are so many fantastical characters in this book. Banshees, fairies, and witches are all part of the Odditorium crew as well a magical eye, a watch that talks, and various other magical objects Alistair Grim has acquired throughout his adventures. In addition he and his crew have created many inventions which require power from magical sources to keep them going. It really is a fantastical world Funaro has created for readers to find themselves lost in while they read.
The pacing of the book reminded me of many other books in which the characters prepare for an adventure or journey and suddenly there is a lot of action and danger and then it's resolved so that we can prepare for the next part of the adventure. Another burst of high energy, action, and close calls is resolved and the characters recover and prepare for the next step, and so on. I've read other novels in which this is also the pattern and it is somewhat annoying when it pops out at me, and it did in this story. I was aware of it after the 2nd life threatening adventure and it pulled me out of the story. I would rather not notice until I'm reflecting on the story and how it flows.
Overall, I liked Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum by Gregory Funaro and plan to purchase both books in the series for my classroom. I have a few students I believe will really enjoy these books. Fan of Harry Potter will definitely like this series. I would say that anyone who enjoys steampunk and fantasy novels and stories of Camelot will also enjoy this book. It's fast paced so it'll keep middle schoolers' attention.
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