'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 29 May 2021

Review: Oddity

I really enjoyed this quirky alternate-history fantasy novel. 

Set in the US in 1800's, where America is at war with Bonaparte's France, the story follows the adventures of thirteen-year-old Clover Elkins.

It has beautifully detailed line drawings by Karin Rytter that capture the  historical vibe perfectly.

Clover knows very little about her dead mother, other than she was a collector of "Oddities": regular looking objects that contain supernatural powers, such as a wineglass that flows with a never ending stream of wine (and drowns all onlookers). 

As these Oddities could be used as weapons in the war, there is a bounty on them. 

Clover is fascinated by the possibilities, but her father forbids Clover from seeking Oddities, knowing that they cannot be fully controlled and that ruthless forces are hunting them.

Clover's world is turned upside down when a group of cutthroats ambush and kill her father. 

With his dying words, he gives Clover some cryptic instructions about keeping a precious Oddity in his possession safe. And the adventure begins! 

Brown masterfully builds a rich and detailed world, and populates it with a variety of quirky characters. I particularly liked the rooster who had been a colonel in the American war of Independence. But the furious ragdoll was also fun!

The tension builds as the feisty and resourceful Clover has to figure out who to trust and to solve a mystery about her own past. Some of the bizarre creatures she has to fight are truly scary. 

This is a highly original and fun story. It is beautifully written and well paced. 

I'm not surprised that author, Eli Brown, won awards for his adult novel.  This is his debut children's' novel, and I hope it is not his last.

Title: Oddity
Author: Eli Brown
Illustrator: Karin Rytter
Publisher: Walker Books, $18.99
Publication Date: 5 May, 2021
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781406389272
For ages: 11-14 years
Type: Middle Grade Fiction