Grim Doyle lives a somewhat unusual life. First of all, he has two dads, and five siblings, only one of which is a biological sibling. Their home is cluttered with steampunk inspired creations, and they are watched over by their annoying Aunt Patricia. But thinks take a decidedly weirder turn when Grim discovers his family is not originally from Earth, but instead from a place called Verne. Verne is a steampunk world fueled by absinthe, and full of malevolent paranormal creatures. In order to keep the children safe, their dads send them to live at an orphanage, but even there they are not safe.
This book is one part J.K. Rowling, one part Lemony Snicket, one part H.G Wells/Jules Verne, and all parts awesome! I truly never thought I would be a fan of steampunk literature, regardless of the targeted age group, but I honestly and truly am. I love the steampunk world that Burton creates. He spends a lot of time developing it, but I found it to be well worth it. I felt it was similar to how readers encounter Hogwarts for the first time in the initial Harry Potter books. As someone who does not read a lot of fantasy fiction, I often have difficulty imagining fantastical settings and creatures, so the more detail the better for me.
I loved the children's characters, particularly Grim and Rudy. I am hoping as more books are added to this series we will learn more about the other children, particularly Sam. And can I just say that I love that these kids have two dads, and it is not at all a big deal in the book?! It is as normal and accepted as a family with a mother and a father, and I love that. I think children need to see different types of families represented in literature, without it being the complete focus of the story.
This is a great middle grades chapter book, and particularly appealing to young male readers. I love books that can engage boys without being about cars or sports, and that exhibit strong female characters, so all in all I found the book really appealing. I think young readers will love it.