Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson

Rate this book
A prodigal inventor flees his home to find his destiny.

In the humdrum town of Moormouth, Walter Mortinson’s unusual inventions cause nothing but trouble. After one of his contraptions throws the town into chaos, Walter’s mother demands he cut the nonsense and join the family mortuary business.

Far off on Flaster Isle, famed inventor Horace Flasterborn plans to take Walter under his wing, just as he did Walter’s genius father decades ago. When a letter arrives by unusual means offering Walter an apprenticeship, it isn’t long before Walter decides to flee Moormouth to achieve his destiny.

Walter runs away in the family hearse along with Cordelia, the moody girl next door with one eye and plenty of secrets. Together they journey through a strange landscape of fish-people, giantess miners, and hypnotized honeybees in an adventure that will not only reveal the truth about Walter’s past, but direct his future.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published April 2, 2019

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Quinn Sosna-Spear

3 books60 followers
Hello, I'm Quinn and I like magic.

I wrote a book called "The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson." It has quite a bit of magic in it, so I think it's pretty good (I hope you like it too).

You can read it April 2, 2019, from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
71 (29%)
4 stars
76 (31%)
3 stars
66 (27%)
2 stars
21 (8%)
1 star
7 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 77 reviews
Profile Image for Mel (Epic Reading).
895 reviews274 followers
August 7, 2019
A little disjointed at times, this strange and unique middle grade book has a lot to digest (even for an adult). I feel like it tries to do too much and that takes away from what the core story should be. While I felt like there was an attempt to have a fun and dream-like tone and story; Quinn Sosna-Spear misses the mark for me in some key areas including plot and use of flashbacks.

It's only at the 32% mark in which our two children actually take off on their journey together! Just a bit too much introduction and info dumping for my taste to start with. This is a classic quest set-up with our two main characters setting out into the big wide world. Nothing really different from other stories happens. There's a balloon incident (Wizard of Oz), giants (Jack and the Beanstalk), quirky inventors and some odd honeybees. All were unique in their own way as encounters but none of them stood out to me as especially unique or even all that exciting.

Odd Moments
There are a few noteworthy or odd things that happen or are said in this book that I highlighted while reading and I feel like they are worth coming back to. These descriptions begin to really give a sense of why I wasn't a huge fan of this book.
In the opening few pages we meet a teacher who is intentionally teaching children the wrong things! From spelling, math and geography; this teacher gives the kids the wrong answers to things; and she does it knowingly. I'm not sure what the point was of this teacher but it really bothered me that this character (already a brief presence) existed at all. Unless of course the reason was to give our children an "excuse" to run away from school? (ie: they weren't being taught properly anyways?)
One of the first towns we encounter sounds exactly like H.P. Lovecraft's Innsmouth. I'm going to assume this is not intentional (?) as this is a children's book and there wouldn't really be a reason to pay homage to a horror writer in a fantasy middle-age story. However; given the Lovecraft Innsmouth town use in the recent blockbuster DC comics hit 'Aquaman' and a bit of a resurgence of Lovecraft's settings and monsters being used by many adult fantasy/horror writers; I can't help but wonder if it was coincidence or not. There is nothing wrong with this homage or use of Innsmouth (as it's a clever way to explain evolution); it just struck me as a bit odd and made me wonder if Sosna-Spear wasn't creative enough to come up with her own quirky town.

Circling Dialogue
This reminds me a bit of Ronald Dahl in that there’s a lot of nonsense in it and dialogue that circles itself. Where each character says the same thing a different way and they are confirming their understanding of one another. It's really annoying as an adult to read this. And frankly, as a child I found Dahl to be a bit boring at times because it took him soooo long to describe one thing or have one quick conversation. Perhaps this is just me and it's helpful to children to read the same thing over again in a different way to help with comprehension. If that is the case I will conceded that it is clearly appropriate for this middle-age book.

My ongoing hatred of poorly used flashbacks continues. I don't understand why we get the POV of Walter's Mother closer to the end of the story in the current day; never mind her flashbacks. It feels like Sosna-Spear wasn't able to write the story in a clever enough way to have Walter unveil the secrets for the readers and instead Sosna-Spear gives us two sides of the same story so we can put it together (albeit slightly) sooner than our main children do. The purpose is still beyond me except to maybe ensure the reader knows what is/has happened.
The biggest pet peeve of this book I have is the use of flashbacks. If you want to change POVs without too much context I don't tend to mind. But switching what timeline is being described is a huge no-no to me. If I'm getting slightly lost trying to figure out of the Mother's POV was current day or past I don't even want to think about the struggle a 9-year-old child might have. It was just too much work near the end of the story (especially given the ease of reading the prior sections of the book) to keep things straight.
So I hold to my usual comment: if you don't know how to set-up and use flashbacks, then please don't use them at all. Tolkien uses flashbacks poorly and emulating his wizard battle flashback from Fellowship will always be a bad idea!

I nearly didn't finish reading The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson. Honestly, had it not been relatively short and easy to read I may have put it aside. 3 stars is probably a bit generous of a rating for me. And yet I will say there is some magic here and the children are fairly well put together characters. If a child was to read this as one of their first fantasy-style stories I could seem them being enamored as it's not 'bad' so much as it's just boring and very plain given the plethora of middle-age fantasy that is available to readers which has a much better plot and writing style.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Crystal Smith.
Author 3 books576 followers
January 7, 2019
When my 10 year old son was small—maybe four or five—we watched a movie that choked him up. When I asked him what he thought about the show, he could only squeak out “salty watermelon.” It was all he could think of to describe what he was feeling: happiness with a distinct touch sadness underneath. A bitter that only seemed to enhance the sweet.

Since then, “salty watermelon” has become our shorthand for things that make us feel. Happy but sad, bitter but sweet, hurting but hopeful.

I was lucky enough to snag an advanced copy of THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON at a bookseller's show and knew going into it that it would be something of a spectacle. It is, after all, described on the back as “Big Fish meets Willy Wonka.” As expressive as that phrase is, it does little justice to this confection of color and whimsy and humor and imagination. It was so lovely and funny and magical but also so human—and its conclusion both breaks your heart and sews it carefully back up again.

I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say that THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON is the sweetest and saltiest of watermelon. HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
Profile Image for MissBecka Gee.
1,445 reviews586 followers
March 8, 2020
From the description I expected an amazing story of fun, adventure and friendship.
There is a trip and some adventure to be had, it just didn't work for me.
It was hard work getting through the long winded pages of this book.
Many interesting places and things are found in here, but it felt like the author was trying to introduce too many places/things without really taking the time to develop any of them fully.
It was a really cool idea, I just didn't enjoy the execution.
I did love Periwinkle, he was adorable!
Thank you NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for my copy.
Profile Image for Darla.
3,254 reviews488 followers
April 2, 2019
There were some really great things about this debut novel. The creativity of the butterfly balloon, the way Walter's journey mirrored that of his parents, his quest to win over Cordelia, and his indomitable spirit. Unfortunately, I did not love the book as much as I have works by Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket. Walter was hailed as a successful inventor, but his room was such a disaster and I did not find the inventions he had completed to be at all appealing. At least in the Series of Unfortunate Events you have the banter of the author to break up the negative story line. This book had none of that and was just too melancholy in my opinion.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Edelweiss for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Jessica (Goldenfurpro).
881 reviews251 followers
May 9, 2019
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this book. From the synopsis, I mainly expected a fun middle-grade book, and I did get that, but there was so much more to unpack from this novel.

This book, unsurprisingly, is mainly about a young boy named Walter Mortinson. Walter loves to invent odd things, but in the town of Moormouth, people are meant to work in tedium and kids are not supposed to have an imagination or to know things. Walter's mother thinks that he needs to stop inventing, as it will only lead to trouble, and join the family mortuary business. After an escalated argument, Walter finds a letter in the trash addressed to him from Flasterborn, the famed inventor. Flasterborn wants Walter as an apprentice, so Walter sneaks off into the night, taking Cordelia (a classmate who was once a friend long ago). They travel through odd towns, mirroring the adventure Walter's own parents took on the way to Moormouth fourteen years before.

I'll admit that it took me a bit to get into this book. Sosna-Spear carefully describes all of the settings and every character, even the smallest ones. At first, I did not see the purpose in this because these details would interrupt the story and some of these characters would never be heard from again. I would take breaks from this book and it was seeming to be a three-star read. Then, after a bit of a break from this book, I picked it up again and...I began to notice more purpose to all of these details. I liked learning everyone's hopes and fears and I was less bothered by interruptions from the past.

I mentioned this briefly in my little run-down, but throughout Walter's adventure, we also get chapters that take place fourteen years before as Walter's parents take the same route (although they took the route the other way around, so their story is backwards). I loved seeing all of the odd settings that the characters came across and there was so much imagination involved in creating these settings (which makes sense as imagination is a huge part of this book). They can be strange and feel random, but the way they are described makes them purposeful and it is just fun to see how each town differs in its way of thinking. I wish that more time could be spent in each town then there was. In truth, I feel like at times we didn't get to stay in a moment long enough. I'm not sure how I feel about that because I'm glad that the book is not talking down to readers by overly explaining what things mean or what happened, that is up to the reader's discretion. s to decide.

While the settings are a huge part of this book, the characters are the biggest part. I mean, Walter is in the title. The entire book we see these interesting things, but they are nothing without seeing how the characters react to what is around them. I mentioned how each character is shown in careful detail what their hopes and fears are. Well, with the main characters, we are shown that not everything is simple. With each odd encounter, we learn more and more about the main characters (Walter, Cordelia, and Hadorah, who is Walter's mother). It's interesting that so much attention is given to Hadorah, the main adult in the story. You really want to hate her in the beginning because she seems to be trying to squash Walter's imagination, but there is so much more at work in the story. Because there is a mix of past and present, we also see how much the past is affecting the characters, but we don't fully understand it until we near the end of the story.

Now, the ending of this book is a five-star ending. The ending of this book was absolutely fantastic, even though it broke my heart. In fact, once I got to the last one hundred or so pages of this book, you could not tear me away. This part of the book made me feel so many things and everything was coming together in a way I did not expect nor want to happen, but I felt like there was just so much said in the last portion of the book. Right now I'm struggling to even type out how the ending of this book made me feel because the best way to see that is just by reading this book.

Overall, this is a fantastic book. There is just so much in this book about imagination, family, friends, and there is just so much creativity. If it weren't for my earlier struggle, this book would be five-stars, but who knows. Maybe I'll reread this someday and up my rating. I do recommend this book and I hope this book gets the attention it deserves. I noticed that Quinn Sosna-Spear has another book coming up, The Thirteenth Hour, and you bet I'm going to read that one when it comes out.
Profile Image for Chris Baron.
Author 10 books120 followers
December 28, 2018
First off, the prose in this book is wonderful-and even as the book flows so seamlessly, I found myself wanting to reread lines for the sheer joy of it. What I like best about this is that the prose so beautifully represents the wild imagination of the characters and the story.

One of my favorite things about this book THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON is that the Walter has 'inventing' in his DNA--and he knows it. It's how he functions--creating so many fantastic inventions that do extraordinary things. I enjoyed how much this character has confidence in who he is--even as the world around him does not quite appreciate him. As he and his friend Cordelia take a whimsical journey together finding unusual creatures and even stranger situations they discover so much about the world and their own identities that are unexpected and full of heart.

This is such a great book for kids today who are in a world so full of "yet to be discovered" possibilities!
Profile Image for Joshua Levy.
Author 5 books78 followers
December 26, 2018
THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON is as fantastical and delightful as its name (and cover) suggests. The brilliant Walter sets out to seek more from life than his humdrum town can (and is willing to) provide, echoing a journey his own parents once took. Walter embarks on this adventure with his friend Cordelia (or, if not a friend, exactly, someone who once was; and someone who maybe can be again). Together, Walter and Cordelia encounter strange sights and even stranger attitudes.

But, however much whimsy populates THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON, it's still a grounded story in heart: About the sense that there can be real joy, even in loss. And about the worthy lesson that, sometimes, chasing dreams may very well bring you back home.
Profile Image for Mila.
770 reviews66 followers
December 29, 2018
The digital arc of this book was kindly provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ website in exchange for an honest review.

My biggest problem with this book was that it wasn't what I had expected or wanted. It reminded me of "The Series of Unfortunate Events" but a much less depressing version. This book also mostly relied on bizarre places and events that happened to the characters rather than the actual characterization and it went out of its way to try and surprise me with every chapter. Unfortunately, I got bored of it pretty quickly. But this is definitely an inventive and even sometimes fun middle-grade story if you're into this kind of narrative.
Profile Image for Naomi Milliner.
Author 2 books69 followers
February 8, 2019
This is one of the most imaginative, original and one-of-a-kind books I have read in a very long time. It is also the perfect blend of dry humor, outrageous characters, fantastic world-building, and pathos. Walter is a tremendously lovable character, and his inventions (like the author's writing) is incredibly clever. If you enjoy books by Lemony Snicket, Roald Dahl and Michael Ende, this one's for you. If you don't enjoy those books - this one is for you anyway. You've never read anything like it.
Profile Image for Kelli Gleiner.
Author 2 books10 followers
October 30, 2018
The right mix of fantasy and reality for me. Sadness creeps throughout the book, winding through some very beautiful moments.
The Vivid descriptions of inventions and places set my imagination reeling at times.
My only criticism is that it wrapped up sort of neatly and quickly.
Profile Image for Reading Relish.
356 reviews26 followers
May 18, 2022
I’m gonna have to sit on my thoughts on this for a while.


*Trigger/content warnings this book for ableism, child abuse, death/loss of loved ones, depictions of corpses (humans and animals), and loss of a limb (eyeball)*

I had never heard of this book until I was scouring through to find my next audiobook listen. The blurb kind of confused me, but it still intrigued me enough to give the book a try.

I should’ve taken my confusion as a sign, because this was a struggle to get through. This book was a strange combination of being underdeveloped and also needing to be cut down. I can’t summarize in a couple of sentences, so let’s just jump right into what I mean when I say this.



•The writing and imagery was quite lovely at times! Sosna-Spear really knew how to paint a picture with words, whether it was of a setting or of Walter’s inventions.

•I did like Walter! I immediately felt bad for him when he was getting bullied by his teacher and peers, and then his own mother. He so creative, and also SO SWEET to animals! I will say the animal scenes were the best scenes to read about!


•It took way too long for Walter to start his adventure. There was a lot of info-dumping and world-building that could’ve been condensed or cut out so Walter could start his adventure sooner. Most of the info that was dumped wasn’t even necessary or brought up again, which was incredibly frustrating.

•While Walter and Cordelia traveled to many magical places, they didn’t stay in any of them for very long. I understand that they were trying to get Flasterborn, but I wish they’d stayed just a little longer in each place so we could really get absorbed into the settings.

•I know I said it took a while for Walter and Cordelia to start their adventure, but even after they did, the plot still meandered from there. There were a couple of reasons for this:

1) There was A LOT of head-hopping. In one scene we’d be in Walter’s head and then suddenly be in Cordelia’s, and then another character, and then back to Walter’s, etc. It got confusing and annoying VERY quickly.

2) I also didn’t always enjoy the flashbacks. For one, they constantly slowed down the main story of Walter and Cordelia traveling to meet Flasterborn. For another, they took out a lot of the potential suspense of Hadorah’s past and how she felt about Walter’s father. That time on the flashbacks could’ve been spent on exploring the places Walter and Cordelia went to WHILE Walter learned more about his parents’ past.

•The whole third-act was underwhelming. As soon as Walter and Cordelia arrived at Flasterborn’s island, I knew Flasterborn was bad news. This was sealed when Flasterborn told Tibby he didn’t want to lose Walter when Walter expressed interest in returning home. So I expected the third-act to be of Walter having to escape and defeat Flasterborn. I thought Walter, Cordelia, and Hodurah would have to work together (using Walter’s inventions) to stop Flasterborn and save the day.

Instead, Walter was able to walk off of Flasterborn’s island without a scratch. Yes, he still had to deal with Cordelia’s death, but it had nothing to do with what the main plot had been about—trying to meet Flasterborn in the first place. The entire third-act, from the climax to the falling action, was disjointed and disappointing, and was what sealed the two-star rating.

•That’s another thing—Cordelia just died??? What the heck was that all about??? The thing is, while I liked Cordelia, she wasn’t a totally developed character. She was the girl Walter had a crush on, and had been sheltered by her parents her whole life, but that’s the most we got from her.

And then she just…DIED. Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely sad, but her death left me more confused than heartbroken.

•Finally, there was some ableism in this. E.M. Anderson wrote in her review how “it was a bit not great that most of the disabled-coded characters were bad, and the one good one was killed off.” I wholeheartedly agree. None of this was necessary, nor was it respectful to anyone who actually does have the disabilities that were poorly represented and villainized in this book. (I have left E.M. Anderson’s review at the bottom of this one, so please check it out!)


All in all, I didn’t HATE this book, but it didn’t really wow me in anyway. I feel like this is a book that you’re either going to like or hate. Not sure who I’d recommend this to, maybe if you like books by Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket? Other than that, I wouldn’t recommend it.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Amie's Book Reviews.
1,502 reviews163 followers
January 3, 2019
Debut author Quinn Sosna-Spear has a hit on her hands with THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON.

With an imagination equalling that of iconic children's author Roald Dahl, and emotional intelligence   commensurate to that of BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA author, Katherine Paterson, this exceptional middle-grade book is destined to be at the top of multiple BestSeller lists.

Firstly, I have to mention the awe-inspiring cover art. There is no way that any reader will be able to walk past that cover in a bookstore without pausing to pick it up to read the back. And, as most of us know, if you can get people to hold a book in their hands, they are much more likely to purchase it.

However, a great cover can only do so much. The story inside must be equally fascinating, and debut author Quinn Sosna-Spear has mastered the art of storytelling to make this happen. 

Kids will quickly be able to relate to one of the main characters, either Walter or Cordelia.

Walter Mortinson is a young tween who invents all kinds of fabulous contraptions and who lives with his mother in the most boring town on the planet - Moormouth. The problem is that Walter's inventions often get him into trouble, but he can't stop inventing, he loves it too much.

Walter does not have many friends, in fact, he doesn't have any friends at all. He hates going to school because of being bullied.

Walter used to play with the girl who lives next door, but Cordelia doesn't come around anymore. She only has one eye and is very self-conscious, but Walter doesn't care about her "disability," he just wants her friendship.

Nothing ever seemed to happen in the small town of Moormouth - until the day that one of Walter's inventions go awry and causes big problems.

Because of what happened, his mother tells him that he is no longer allowed to invent things, and that it is time for him to become a mortician, just like her.

At the same time, he receives an invitation to apprentice with the most famous, and the richest, inventor alive. His name is Horace Flasterborn and he lives far, far away in a place called Flaster Isle. Walter decides that he isn't cut out to be a mortician and runs away with Cordelia to accept Horace Flasterborn's offer of apprenticeship.

Walter may be a few years too young to have a driver's license, but he doesn't let that stop him, he drives away in the only vehicle available to him - the family hearse.

The two runaways experience a road trip they will never forget, and neither will the readers of this book.

There are sinister forces that want to exploit Walter's gift for inventing and the people and creatures they meet along the way will either help them, or possibly harm them and what fantastical creatures they are.

To find out what and who the bad guys are, and to explore the fantastic world of Walter and Cordelia, you need to buy a copy of this book.

Fans of Eoin Colfer and Madeline L'Engle will adore this marvelous story filled with amazing adventures and interesting 'people.'

As fun and interesting as their adventures are, there are also some serious issues that are explored in this book, such as the fact that Walter's father is dead, and someone else in the story might just be seriously ill. Kids struggling with grief will find that they are not alone and will gravitate towards Walter's character.

It is hard to believe that this is author Quinn Sosna-Spear's debut novel. She writes with depth and an immense talent. If this is her first book, I cannot wait to read the next one.

If I could rate this book higher than 5 out of 5 Stars I would, as it is I am giving it my highest rating of 5+ Stars.

***Thank you to #NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with a free ARC of this book.***
To read more reviews visit my blog at http://Amiesbookreviews.wordpress.com and Follow me on Instagram @Amiesbookreviews or on Twitter @Amiesbookreview
Profile Image for Lindsey.
300 reviews5 followers
April 2, 2019
I’ll admit that one of the reasons I requested this book, besides my quest to encourage a love of reading in my youngest (I’ve given up on the oldest), was the eye-catching artwork design on the cover of this tween-novel.

This magical debut novel targeted for the Middle School sector was released today! It is a well-written story with elements of mystery, adventure, family, friendship, acceptance, love, loss, and healing. Set in an incredibly fantastical land with enchantingly descriptive elements and people, the writing is engaging enough to capture the attention of the pickiest young reader while remaining sophisticated enough to appeal to grown-up readers who enjoy a touch of whimsy.

The plot follows the road trip-style adventure of two tweens who embark on their journey for two very different, personal reasons. The riveting escapade is balanced with colourful scenery, elements of humour, and personal introspection. I was both charmed and surprised. I loved the quirky odd characters and wish we had the opportunity to get to know them a little better. The ending caught me by surprise and left me a little bereft, yet touched – not because it was poorly written, but because I was so engaged with the tale.

A recommended read for any tween or adult readers who enjoy imaginative and extraordinarily curious fiction along the lines of Neil Gaiman or Roald Dahl.

Additional thoughts available on my blog: https://lifelovelaughterlinds.home.bl...

I received a complimentary copy of this title via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Katarina.
1 review3 followers
April 16, 2019
Heartwarming and hilarious, this book offers delightful adventures, charming characters, fantastic inventions, and beautiful reflections on grief, death, and mental illness. In classic Quinn fashion, the heartbreaking moments are balanced with a wit that will bring readers old and young alike some laughter, some insight, some joy, and some comfort.
Profile Image for Teresa Grabs.
Author 11 books45 followers
March 22, 2019
Sosna-Spear's book is a roller coaster ride through Walter's life. Driven by a need to invent, Walter tries to escape the very thing he can't - himself. The ending is very touching. While the book will not be for everyone, anyone who has wished they could change the past will relate to Walter.
21 reviews
July 15, 2018
I had the incredible fortune to win the ARC of this book in a giveaway.

Our protagonist, Walter Mortinson, lives in the town of Moorsmouth, which is the living embodiment of the word "dreary." Smog literally obscures the vision of its inhabitants, for one. Walter's only enjoyment comes from his inventing, but unluckily for him, his mother is against his passion, calling it "dangerous" and pressuring him to pick up the family business and become a mortician. Cordelia, his next-door neighbor, is a moody girl with her own secret reasons to want to leave home. Together, they run away in Walter's family hearse towards Flaster Isle, where famed inventor Horace Flasterborn has invited Walter to come be his apprentice. As we read, we (and the characters) are given glimpses into Walter's mysterious past and his ultimately propelled into his future.

THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON by Quinn Sosna-Spear is full of vivid imagery and dripping humor, and the narrator's voice completely pulls the reader into the odd and fantastic world of the story. As much as each character is told to us, they are even more so shown to us instead. The masterful effect of this story lies in the space between its words.

The back of the book of my advanced reader's copy tells me that Quinn hopes to share the "humor, poignancy, and adventure" in things such as loss, "as dreary and impossible as they may seem." I don't know what better review to leave than to say that she has more than succeeded. Though the world she's built is as fantastical as any one of Walter's inventions, her poignant encapsulation of the human feelings within it are irrevocably true and will reverberate in your heart and mind. I feel as though if I were to find myself in a Moorsmouth of my own life, I should now be better equipped to find a way to breathe despite the smog.

I vastly enjoyed reading this and strongly recommend it, including for adults. This is not a book that I love primarily from many of the lenses I usually read from (educator, parent, kidlit lover, middle grade lit lover, etc). Rather, I find that I love this book as a human, and as lover of words and their power.
Profile Image for Angela.
68 reviews
March 2, 2019
Walter Mortinson is a unique boy in a town where being unique is not a good thing. Walter is an inventor. While searching for his own identity and a connection to his late father, Walter finds friendship, love, and the real meaning of family.

Walter Mortinson’s father, Maxwell, died when Walter was just four years old, but Maxwell’s creativity and inventiveness lived on in Walter. Unfortunately, Walter’s mother Hadorah was determined to quash all inventing and force Walter to be like everyone else in the humdrum, grey town of Moormouth. When Walter receives an invitation to become an apprentice to the great Flasterborn, he sets out on an adventure with his one and only, somewhat-friend, Cordelia Primpet. They travel through strange towns to arrive at Flaster Isle, each searching for the one thing they believe they desperately want.

Artistic, inventive, creative and completely outcast from the town of Moormouth, Walter is relatable to anyone who has ever felt friendless or alone. The same can be said about his traveling companion, Cordelia Primpet. Cordelia isn’t outcast for her mind like Walter, but for her appearance and an illness that she has dealt with since childhood. The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson teaches how being different can sometimes be a wonderful thing. Through Walter and Cordelia’s journey, we learn about their unique personalities, their sad histories, and the hope that keeps them going.

This book was a fun, imaginative read that would be perfect for any middle grade student. If you are looking for a good read aloud for 4th or 5th grade, this one would be fabulous!
Profile Image for Aimee Leonhard.
163 reviews1 follower
March 10, 2019
I picked this up yesterday from a group of ARCs solely because I liked the cover and I didn't have time to choose more than one. I decided to look it over while I ate lunch and I couldn't put it down. It definitely has that Goth/steampunk vibe but it is so much more. The characters are all multifaceted and I loved Walter and Cordelia the awkward almost 13 year olds. The inventions are fantastic and the towns remind me of the wizard of Oz books or Gullivers travels, not all Honey and magnolias. It made me think of the King of Hearts (1966 French anti war film) in the way it combines beauty, romance, death and grief in a dream-like tale. This book made me laugh, smile and yes sob. I totally did not expect this from a first novel. Also not a series which makes this an excellent gift book for the young teen.
Profile Image for Kat.
1,606 reviews27 followers
March 13, 2019
The warmest of thank you's to NetGalley and the publisher of this novel.
What a wonderful and lovely book! I absolutely loved this and wasn't even sure when I requested it that I would have time to read it. I made the time and I'm so glad that I did. This novel is not to be missed!!!!
Profile Image for Jeanne Ferruolo.
Author 3 books101 followers
September 4, 2018
“You know, your father always told me something, but I hardly ever agreed with him long enough to believe it: An invention never fails. You simply haven’t found the right use for it yet.”

Walter Mortinson has found his calling – he must invent. And invent he does, from a monocle that looks through paper to a mechanical rabbits (that seemingly brings the dead back to life). Problem is, his inventions are not appreciated – not at school, not at home, and certainly not in the town of Moormouth. So Walter, along with his reluctant friend, Cordelia, runs away – and in so doing takes us on a fantastical journey filled with fish-people, giantess miners, and hypnotized honeybees.

QUINN SOSNA-SPEAR’S story is filled with fantastical imagination and gorgeous prose. There were many passages I re-read for the sheer beauty of them (like the gem above). I simply did not want Walter’s journey to end – but end it must (as all good journeys do). Nevertheless, it does so with the satisfaction that even though everything isn’t as we might want it to be – that’s okay because it is as it’s supposed to be.

THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON is a story that will stay with you for a long time. I can’t think of a better book to be read aloud – either in front of a classroom or (even better) as a bedtime ritual shared between a parent and a child. It is a magical journey, indeed.
Profile Image for Kim McGee.
2,868 reviews50 followers
March 29, 2019
Walter is a boy inventor whose inventions sometimes don't quite work the way he hopes. His father is gone and his mother wants him to set aside this nonsense and become a mortician but that isn't what Walter wants. He sets out on a journey alongside his neighbor, Cordelia to become the apprentice of a famous inventor on Flaster Isle. Now, they just need to get there in one piece and have a few wild adventures along the way. The world will get a lot stranger, Cordelia will become a bit friendlier and Walter will learn a bit about himself and his legacy. Incredible world-building, enchanting characters and the promise of more to come. This would be the perfect family read aloud. I loved everything about this book. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.
Profile Image for Katie Zhao.
Author 10 books653 followers
June 29, 2018
It was such a pleasure getting to read this book early! Walter Mortinson is a boy with the desire to invent, who is told he should focus on being a mortician instead. This concept grabbed me from the get-go because I (and a lot of readers, I'm sure) have always grappled with following what my heart is telling me versus what my parents or society do. Cordelia, the girl Walter likes, is also very quirky...and let's just say their friendship takes a turn I didn't expect.

This book made me laugh out loud in some areas with its amazing voice, and as soon as I got sucked into the world, the writing simply wouldn't let me go. Quinn is a fantastic new voice in the middle grade genre, with a strange and wonderful story that gripped me from beginning to end. I definitely did not expect that twist in the book (and I suspect that many other readers won't either). I can't wait for this book to come out in 2019!
Profile Image for Gail Shepherd.
Author 1 book84 followers
March 4, 2019
This remarkably inventive debut by Quinn Sosna-Spear is a delight. The fantasy landscape Sosna-Spear builds for her main character, Walter, an irrepressible inventor with a sad family backstory (a dried-up shrew of a mother, a mysteriously missing father), is slightly surreal and always humorous. Walter’s madcap inventions often don’t seem to have much use--a walking rabbit skeleton? A comb that changes your hair color? But that’s all part of the wild ride on this adventure—an adventure that takes Walter deep into the belly of the Oz-like city of Flasterborn Isle and straight into a showdown with its designer, Horace Flasterborn. The writing itself is spectacular (“The floorboards moaned in the way that they only do past dark”). Sosna-Spear is definitely a talent to watch. If you love Dahl and Lemony Snickett, and also books like The Mysterious Benedict Society, this one’s for you!
Profile Image for Lisa Ramée.
Author 6 books217 followers
November 4, 2018
I've always enjoyed stories that are a bit off center and this book definitely fits the bill. It's just whacky enough to entice you and draw you in and before you know it's happening, you're caught up in themes of acceptance and loss and courage. The book is surprising and inspiring. I rooted for the main character throughout even while I wasn't exactly sure what I was rooting for exactly. That is to say, I didn't know what I hoped for him, but I knew I wanted him to succeed in a way that would matter to him. Let yourself get lost in this highly imaginative, wonderful world.
Profile Image for Lars Stuyts.
319 reviews
November 5, 2018
I write this review after receiving an ARC from Netgalley for my honest review. The book was wonderful, a mix of fantasy and fiction that mesmerized me the whole time spent reading it. My only criticism would be that I felt it’s ending came too quick, the book could have gone on and on. My habit is not to offer a synopsis but I will say that if you love Neil Gaiman books? This is for you!
Profile Image for Tiffany Martin.
324 reviews2 followers
February 16, 2019
At first, i simply found this book odd and wondered if I could get anything from it (except how weird it is). However, as it all unfolded, I was impressed with how it touches on the delicate subjects of life, death, and our lives following a death. While I didn't dislike it, it was still not really for me but I do appreciate it for what it was.
Profile Image for Tory.
1,229 reviews28 followers
January 4, 2019
Too zany and quirky for me. As another reviewer said, it relies way too much on crazy locations and situations -- the plot is lackluster and the voice was inconsistent. I ended up skimming the last third because I was tired of the characters.
Profile Image for Mackenzie.
64 reviews12 followers
March 6, 2019
"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."

This 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?
Profile Image for Connor.
681 reviews1,657 followers
May 10, 2019
[3.5 Stars] I finished this quite a while ago, but I wanted to wait and let my thoughts on it settle before marking it as read. I loved the tone and vibe this book has. It's blurbed as being for fans of Roahl Dahl and Neil Gaiman which I agree with. It has that askew feel to it, and the world is a little wonky. I really enjoyed seeing all the places the characters go to and meeting the people that lived there. But the ending was a bit of a let down for me (which I kind of think it was purposely supposed to be like that). There was a lot of build up, and then I didn't feel satisfied with how everything wrapped up. Maybe I was expecting a bigger showdown, or maybe I'm just bitter that I loved the whimsy of it all, but when it came down to the actual plot, I wasn't as in love.
Profile Image for L.A.L..
744 reviews38 followers
June 26, 2021
I expected a whimsical, fun adventure but was disappointed. I wasn’t drawn into the story and didn’t care about Walter. And the inventions were almost non-existent (at least through chapter 17, which is where I finally called it).

I felt this book was trying too hard to be a Pratchett, Gaiman, Dahl, or even a Lemony Snicket story with quirky & imaginative places and characters. But here the quirkiness was just thrown in without fleshing out the characters and places. And the flashback chapters (labeled as #1/2) disrupted the flow of the story. I get what she was trying to do but it just didn’t work for me.

Overall, I found the story disjointed and the tone more melancholy than whimsical.

DFN’d at chapter 17 (~50%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 77 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.