The Remarkable Invention of Walter Mortinson

Quinn Sosna-Spear

“There was only one HOF she knew of: Horace Odwald Flasterborn. Somehow Walter had found the letter. And if Hadorah knew Flasterborn, she knew exactly what it said.”

Screen Shot 2019-02-11 at 1.42.27 PMThis is a review of an ARC provided by NetGalley it will be available April 02, 2019.

I loved the feel of the story. It was as if Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate events, AND Roald Dahl’s whimsy was weaved together to form a fresh adventure. If you are a fan of any of those listed above, you will find The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson to be an excellent read.

The Remarkable Invention of Walter Mortinson is a children’s fiction piece, but probably fits better as middle-grade read. It has layers of whimsy, darkness, and strange inventions one can’t help but love. From wannabe fish people to strange miner folk there is something that will stick out to every reader. If you are looking for an adventure that will pull you in, look no further than The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson.

Walter Mortinson is 12 going on 13. He and his mother live a house where his mother, Hadorah, runs the family mortuary business. Because of the family business, the mysterious death of his father, and his overall demeanor and excitement with inventing Walter does not fit in well at school. Walter has one dream, to be an inventor like his father. After an argument with his mother, he finds a particular letter. With that in hand, Walter hits the road in his mother’s hearse with his one-eyed friend, Cordelia, to chase his dream.

The feel of the story and the cover alone were enough for me to enjoy this read a lot, but there are two things I did not like. Did this ruin the story for me? No, but they lingered on my mind throughout the book. Will a younger reader notice or care? Probably not.

  • The perspective and time shifting are my biggest complaints about the book. You read a chapter focused on Walter, then one his parents/mother in the present or the past, then back to Walter. While his parents’ story added detail to the plot, I was not interested in what they had done. I would have liked to learn their story from the characters Walter met. SO Walter and I could learn about his family together, it would have added depth to the plot and a fun puzzle to ponder as you read. Instead, I always knew a tad bit more than Walter which spoiled the fun for me.
  • Shock factor over depth. Yes, I know this is a children’s book/middle-grade read, BUT I do not think that is any reason for the characters and places to be lacking in development. The places Walter and Cordelia visit are exciting and whimsical but missing a bit of explanation. Beyond the wow factor of the setting, I felt myself wanting more–why is this place like this? Why are the characters behaving in this way? I would have liked more depth/characterization/explanation. There is closure in the end that ties everything together–for better or for worse.

Beyond my nitpicking, there is something special about The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson. The imagery alone makes it worth reading. Younger readers will enjoy this read, and older/more experienced readers will find familiar flavors that will make it an enjoyable read. I will be ordering a physical copy of this book to add to my library.  I recommend The Remarkable Invention of Walter Mortinson to any reader but more so to the fans of Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket’s The Series of Unfortunate Events. 

Have you read any reviews of The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson? Do you want to read it? Have you read anything similar? Do you like to read children’s lit or middle-grade reads?


The book cover picture is from the NetGalley book page and can be found on Goodreads.

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