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The Inquisitor’s Apprentice (Inquisitor’s Apprentice #1)

3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  774 Ratings  ·  187 Reviews
The day Sacha found out he could see witches was the worst day of his life. . . .

Being an Inquisitor is no job for a nice Jewish boy. But when Sacha Kessler learns he can see witches, he’s yanked out of everyday life on Hester Street and apprenticed to the New York Police Department’s star Inquisitor, Maximillian Wolf.

The Inquisitor’s mission is to stop magical crime. And
Hardcover, 348 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Harcourt Children’s Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Newbery 2012
54th out of 141 books — 717 voters
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24th out of 101 books — 9 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,649)
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Darth J
Nov 18, 2014 Darth J rated it did not like it
So the plot of this book is that the authorities in an olde timey alternate-universe New York are policing magic users. It seemed initially like it was about a reverse Ministry of Magic, so I was interested...

I DNF'd this sucker at page 98.

What I got instead of an interesting story was one about tenement housing and Jewish guilt. Sure, the magic was outlawed but when it was used (in the pages I read) it was just boring. There are plenty of references to Thomas Edison (in here he's the Wizard of
Jun 01, 2011 Laurel rated it really liked it
More complete review/pondering on the blog:

This book is admirably well plotted, really tight and compelling. The pace is brisk, but well detailed too--and characters are nicely developed. Just generally well written.

I am in LOVE with the setting and the premise. The idea of magic-as-replaced-by-machines, of capitalists as the villains behind the end of "old world" magic. It's brilliant. The way all of these historical characters and institutions (Edison, Houdini,
Melissa McCauley
Jan 02, 2012 Melissa McCauley rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
To be completely honest: I don’t know a kid who would want to read this. The witchcraft aspect, which is supposedly the major storyline, is very quickly buried in the history of New York. Fans of historical fiction (like the American Girls series) keep reading for characters they can identify with and care about.

I think the book is trying to be too many things, and therefore does none of them well. The plot bumbles around and spins its wheels, the witchcraft is given very short shrift, the chara
Oct 12, 2011 Alexa rated it it was ok
Shelves: tween, ebook, fantasy
So much potential led to so much confusion. It's a book about a Jewish kid in the tenements in the early 1900s mixed with magic. You can recognize all the inspiration from our world--if you're an adult. There are too many layers of stuff going on here, and it takes a really long time to explain. Plus, the ending is totally just a set up for another book. I recommend this one to alternate history geeks (who are mostly adults, in my experience). Lots of politics, too. Just too much going on for me ...more
Nov 08, 2011 Erin rated it it was ok
Shelves: j-sci-fi-fantasy
This book started out strong and with a neat concept (a blend of fantasy and alternate historical fiction set near the turn of the century in New York). However, there was such a multitude of concepts and plotlines introduced that it seemed to spin in greater and greater circles until it got stuck. The ending lacked the pizazz of the introduction... although quite clearly this was set up for a sequel. Sigh. What happened to stand-alone books?
Lisa Kelly
Jun 30, 2012 Lisa Kelly rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Lisa by: Sci fi convention
I was given an Advance Copy. As an educator who is always looking for new YA lit, I read it.

I give Moriarty two stars for character development and accurate historical references to 1900 New York and tenement living. The story moved at a fine pace and was somewhat engaging. The remaining 3 stars?

1. The story ended abruptly - too abruptly for my liking. While I do believe that the genre of YA lit always needs to grow, this book does NOT have a universal quality that I could give to any reader.

Mar 30, 2012 Melody rated it it was ok
This didn't work for me at all- from the cute, slightly changed names (VanderBilk, JP Morgaunt & etc.) to the almost claustrophobic Jewish arcana that filled every page- it simply didn't grab me, and I'm wondering how it is faring with the middle grade audience it's aimed at. I never quite got a sense of how Sascha's magic worked, or how, exactly, the Inquisitors work. Lily was also predictable, I thought- plucky rich girl who has an unhappy home life and has unsuspected depths. The story ar ...more
Jeff Raymond
Most people seem to love this. Me, I thought it was a lot like The Yiddish Policeman's Union for kids in a lot of ways. The problem here is that the book is very, very slow and is so steeped in Jewish culture and mythology that it almost completely misses the mark. This may have a very direct audience, one that I am not a part of, but this book didn't do it for me at all - the pacing in particular made it very, very difficult to stick with.
Jul 20, 2011 Allyson rated it did not like it
Less than stellar. Too confusing for the intended audience and although the characters were well depicted, the world-building was awkward.
Roxy Wilde
Jan 16, 2015 Roxy Wilde rated it it was ok
Just personally found it boring
Jan 31, 2014 Sheri rated it it was ok
I'm not sure how this ended up on my "to read" list, but after finishing Walden and before tackling Hawking, I wanted something light and fluffy.
It is kind of cute and the alternate history setting of NYC at turn of the century with magic as the norm was entertaining.

The plot itself was rather thin and predictable; the magical elements were nothing very special. As most things, it suffered a bit from convenience and contradiction (Sacha tells his mom he is going to shul and then waits outside u
Gabriel C.
Jul 19, 2012 Gabriel C. rated it did not like it
Shelves: young-adult, cory, 2012
There has got to be a special place in Hell for people who have a handful of diamonds and take a huge turd right in the middle of them. This one-star review is a blazon of my displeasure at Ms. Moriarty for taking the care to set up:
1) a coherent, engaging world,
2) interesting, sympathetic, diverse, and sufficiently complicated characters, and
3) a well-proportioned conflict...

and then ruin it all with pacing. With PACING. I have never written any YA fiction, but I've read a fair amount, and I'
Lexie Robinson Austin
Jul 22, 2013 Lexie Robinson Austin rated it it was ok
Gah. I wanted to like this book.

It was so promising! New York! Magic! Jewish Mysticism! Historical Fiction! Thomas Edison! It could have been so cool. was just kind of boring.

The plot was slower than slow.

The premise has potential. A young Jewish boy named Sacha live in New York at the turn of the century. He learns that he can see when people work magic. This is a very important gift in a time when police are patrolling looking for illegal magic. Due to his ability, Sacha is qui
The Library Lady
Jun 06, 2012 The Library Lady rated it it was ok
Enjoyable for a middle aged Jewish woman who was raised in the Bronx, who has read a good deal of history, and recognizes all the references.

For kids?

Maybe if they live in NY and have a fair grasp of Jewish history and culture.
Otherwise, they are going to get hopelessly ferschimmelled amidst all the mishegosse in this book. Nu?
Jun 23, 2013 Sterling rated it it was ok
Couldn't finish. The characters are bland and boring and the writing doubly so.
This is just a charming, fun book. I've been a huge fan of Chris Moriarty's ever since I read Spin State; it was one of the first books I gave five stars to, I remember just loving it. I read Spin Control as soon as I could and waited anxiously to hear about the third book in the series. And waited and waited. I was thrilled to see Chris appear on Goodreads and to find out that she was writing both this book an the long awaited third book in the Spin series (coming soon!). But I was curious as t ...more
Welcome to steampunk 1800's Brooklyn. Crowds still stream in and out of Coney Island. There are the crowded tenements, overflowing with life and love and family in the midst of hard work and American dreams. There is Edison, the Wizard of, Luna Park, and J.P. Morgaunt and the Astral family all in their own pursuit of the best that money can buy.

And then there is Sacha, an ordinary Jewish boy who discovers that he has a not so ordinary (or wanted) ability: the ability to see the use of
This books was excellent and a really fun read. Echoes of Holly Black's "White Cat" and Michael Chabon's "Yiddish Policeman's Union" this book reimagines a turn-of-the-century New York City where magic is as common and diverse as the growing immigrant population. The main character is Sascha, a Russian Jewish immigrant who discovers that he has the ability to see magic, and is recruited by the magic-crimes police division, the Inquisitors. This book was funny, tongue-in-cheek, inventive, and at ...more
Feb 03, 2012 Kristy rated it really liked it
Shelves: juv
I thought this was one of the better juvenile chapter books about magic that I have read. The author was not afraid to use colorful language and to dig into class differences and ignorance. The story focuses on a 13 year old Jewish boy who discovers he has the power to see magic happening and is immediately drafted into the NYPD, as a magical inquisitor's apprentice. The setting is an alternate New York, around the turn of the century, where magic is real, but outlawed. Thomas Edison, J.P. "Morg ...more
Flora Smith
Sep 29, 2011 Flora Smith rated it really liked it
I received my copy thru Firstread and I appreciate getting the opportunity to review it.

This was such a fun read! Sacha is a Jewish boy living in a New York where magic is the norm and he has discovered that he can see magic. Recruited by the police department that works against magical crime he finds himself embroiled in a mystery that could result in his demise or worse. This book is full of interesting characters, fun history and unusual sci-fiction. It definitely draws you in from the begini
C.L. McCollum
Feb 22, 2016 C.L. McCollum rated it liked it
I wanted to like this one – it was enthusiastically recommended to me, but somehow it just didn’t work as well as I hoped. I actually read it in two sittings. I only got about a third of the way through the first time and set it aside for a while to see if I’d be more in the mood for it later. I did finish reading it finally, but didn’t feel satisfied with it by the end. I will say that the world building was A+! I loved all the details of the alternate history New York with the rich cultures an ...more
Theodosia of the Fathomless Hall
This belongs on the unfortunately lengthy list of books that I see a loooong while before I really read it. In fact, I just realized that I've looked at this previously...
Combining Jewish folklore and pleasingly historical elements I regret procrastinating when it comes to this book.
My thoughts?
Oh heavens this is absolutely completely totally brilliant! The writing, the characters, the setting...
I'll address the characters first..Well. What can I say. Chris Moriarty(If that's even his real name.
Kathy Martin
Oct 07, 2015 Kathy Martin rated it really liked it
Sacha Kessler is an immigrant, Jewish boy living in the tenements in this alternate New York City about the year 1900. His New York is divided into all the various ethnic groups each with their own varieties of magic. The Wizards of Wall Street really are wizards. In fact, J. P. Morgaunt would like to control all the magic and make all but his illegal. He is the villain of the story.

When Sacha shows an unexpected magical ability he is apprenticed to Inquisitor Wolf of the New York Police who is
Jan 20, 2012 Videoclimber(AKA)MTsLilSis rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, witches
I enjoyed the first part of this book. I got bored and the writing got bogged down toward the end. This book was involved and you had to pay attention to every line. I am afraid it may be over some children's heads and they may become bored quickly. Moriarity has good ideas but it seems like too many are used in this novel. Maybe he should have saved some for the next book as it seems like he left it open for a sequel. Not terrible but not worthy of a second look.
Jan 04, 2015 Batsheva rated it really liked it
I think that I might be the tailor-made demographic for this book. When I was a little kid, I loved Sidney Taylor's "All of a Kind Family" stories about a Jewish immigrant family in New York City pre-WWI. My grandmother assured me that she had met Sidney Taylor, who really did have 4 sisters and that the stories in the books were based on a real childhood. (In fact, they bore a striking resemblance to my grandma's own childhood a decade later in NYC.) For me though, the world described in "All o ...more
Addison Children
Feb 10, 2014 Addison Children rated it really liked it
Shelves: chapter-books
This is one of those strange books that I almost understand by the time I am finished, such that I almost (but not quite) want to immediately read it again. It is altered history, set in the early twentieth century, but magic is very real. The Inquisitor of the title is part of the police force assigned to prevent the harmful use of magic. This frequently takes the form of preventing all use of magic, but since nearly everyone has some magical ability, it is difficult to stop it all. Sasha, our ...more
Alex Murphy
Jun 04, 2014 Alex Murphy rated it really liked it
Shelves: not-owned
This book had an extremely interesting premise. Take New York durning the time of the great inventors and money Barron's. Thomas Edison, JP Morgan add in the life of poor Jewish immigrants from Russia. Take all of that along with the open hostility for people who aren't f the same nationality or the same economic class and add magic. This seems like a lot, and it is but fans of historical fiction and historical revision will catch up fast. The story gives you enough time to digest and understand ...more
Rachel Seigel
Dec 07, 2011 Rachel Seigel rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this story and it was a solidly written adventure, but could have benefited from a glossary of the Yiddish terms and phrases that were interspersed throughout the book. It centers around Jewish mythology and Kabbalism, and will reach a very limited audience of readers, but those who pick it up will find a unique adventure.
Jun 01, 2014 Heather rated it liked it
Sacha Kessler lives in a poor Jewish neighborhood in the NYC in a reimagined past of the early 1900's. Because he is able to see witches he is recruited by the famous Inquisitor Wolf of the NYPD's magic investigation unit to investigate magical crimes. The polot is well written and infused with the location of NYC and the culture of immigrant Jews. However, the plot becomes rather complex, with a dybbuk or shadow self of Sacha committing crimes. And danger is always escaped by the help of magic ...more
Sacha and Lily are the newest apprentices for Detective Max Wolf. Detective Wolf is an odd duck and there's something about him that's kinda off. But he's a great detective so the kids are glad to have the opportunity to work with him. Well, Lily is. Being the daughter of high society she simply demanded an apprenticeship and she got it.

Sacha not so much. He found out the hard way (in public) that he can see magic. And with the Inquisitor's office found out, Sacha was head-hunted. He's not excit
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I am the author of SF novels SPIN STATE and SPIN CONTROL, and winner of the 2006 Philip K. Dick Award. Upcoming books include GHOST SPIN and THE INQUISITOR'S APPRENTICE, a middle grade fantasy set on New York's Lower East Side, circa 1900. I also have a regular book review column in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
More about Chris Moriarty...

Other Books in the Series

Inquisitor’s Apprentice (2 books)
  • The Watcher in the Shadows (Inquisitor's Apprentice #2)

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