THIS IS WHAT I WANTED - Alistair Grim's Aquaticum by Greg Funaro review

Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum (Odditorium, #2)Title: Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum
Series: Odditorium #2
Author: Gregory Funaro
Publication: 2016, Alma Books
Pages: 312 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Alma Books for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4/5 CUPCAKES!
When Grubb, an orphan and runaway chimney sweep, entered the wondrous world of the Odditorium, his life changed forever. Apprenticed to the mechanical marvel’s strange proprietor, Alistair Grim, Grubb unfortunately must settle into his new position on the lam, as the whole of London is convinced that Alistair Grim is a villain bent on mass destruction. Grim, however, has come up with a plan to expose the real villain: Prince Nightshade, a wicked necromancer who wants the Odditorium’s power source for himself.
With the evil prince hot on their trail, Grim, Grubb and the rest of the Odditorium's crew embark on a perilous adventure to find the legendary sword Excalibur: the only weapon capable of penetrating Nightshade's magical suit of armor. As expected, their quest turns out to be anything but ordinary. Not only can the Odditorium fly, but it can also swim! And so the crew battens down the hatches and sets off on an underwater voyage to the otherworldly realm of Avalon, home to Excalibur. Along the way, they must battle a banshee assassin, sea monsters, and a witch who seeks revenge on Alistair Grim for stealing her magical objects.
But that’s not all. Unbeknownst to Grubb and the others, their fate has been written in an ancient Avalonian prophecy—a prophecy that holds the key to a destiny not even Alistair Grim could have possibly imagined.

After being quite disappointed by the first book in this series, I entered into Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum with trepidation, afraid that I would again encounter underdeveloped characters and a chaotic plot expectations were blown out of the water. I found myself caring deeply for the characters, being sucked viciously into the story and having a splendid time searching for King Arthur's sword, battling skeleton armies and discovering underwater kingdoms with the dynamic characters. Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum was extremely entertaining and wonderfully whimsical - Delve underwater with Grub and co in this stellar sequel, adventure awaits – I assure you of that!

In this instalment, our kind, brave Grub is still finding his footing around his enchanting home filled with mechanical wonders. Narrowly escaping Prince Nightshade – and becoming a wanted boy in the process - he and the rest of the Odditoria family are on edge as they try to destroy the malevolent dark forces as well as attempting to avoid imprisonment due to the misunderstanding that arose between Alistair Grim and law enforcement. Mr. Grim believes that if they can locate the legendary sword of Prince Arthur, they may be able to succeed in defeating the prince of darkness once and for all. However, to do they need to send the Odditorium underwater in order to locate the hidden Avalon and the hidden sword. With dangerous dates with demons, savage sea serpents and an unexpected visit from another banshee, there's no smooth sailing involved. 

A prominent difference between the book and its predecessor is the characters are more real, more detailed, more emotional than in the previous book. In order for me to connect to a book, I need to connect to the characters and that was something that caused a significant decrease in my enjoyment levels whilst reading the first book – they felt like mere names on a paper and not flesh and blood that breathes and lives – but I can safely say that the author improved the characters drastically in this novel. I found myself wanting to spend time with them whenever I put the book down, I found myself marvelling at Grub's bravery and smiling at his kindness. I found my heart squeezing in empathy whenever Alistair or Nigel revealed the agonizing pain that lived in them due to tragic events of their past. I found myself loving being in the company of Lord Dreary, Mrs. Pinch, Cleona, McClintock, Gwendolyn – among others. I was very aware of the enormous amounts of potential these characters contained and I was ecstatic to see that in this instalment, their vibrant, charismatic personalities emanated from the pages.

The plot in this book was so much better as well! In the first book, there were so many subplots and different themes and genres occurring that it was quite jarring reading it at times. However, the plot was stitched seamlessly together and I found myself devouring certain parts of the book because it was such an enthralling adventure I was embarking on. I absolutely LOVE books that take place underwater and I found it fascinating when they did so in order to discover underwater kingdom, mythological swords, and fairy realms. It was the perfect fantasy landscape that played out, immersing me completely. There were surprising twists that I didn't see coming, there were high stakes that kept me perched on the edge of my seat and there were moments that had my heart lurching due to the unexpected turn of events that occurred.

Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum was a sensational sequel that had my fingers feverishly turning the pages. With a fantastically fun adventure involving underwater kingdoms, fairy realms, banshees and samurai, your imagination will be set free. Rife with charismatic characters, authentic and heart-warming relationships, a vintage writing style and a captivating plot, Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum will ensnare you from page one.

I give it: 4/5 cupcakes!