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

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  609 ratings  ·  169 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...more
Hardcover, 348 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Harcourt Children’s Books
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Newbery 2012
60th out of 167 books — 675 voters
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Great Young Adult Books and Preteen Books
111th out of 184 books — 42 voters

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Community Reviews

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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,...more
Melissa McCauley
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...more
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
Lisa Kelly
Jun 30, 2012 Lisa Kelly rated it 2 of 5 stars
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.

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
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?
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.
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...more
Less than stellar. Too confusing for the intended audience and although the characters were well depicted, the world-building was awkward.
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...more
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
Lexie Robinson Austin
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...more
Feb 03, 2012 Kristy rated it 4 of 5 stars
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 Bateman
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...more
Tilia Jacobs
Sacha Kessler, a Jewish immigrant boy living on the Lower East Side, discovers that he can see magic as though it were a physical emanation. He is promptly drafted into the NYPD Inquisitors, a law enforcement agency focused on the control of magic, which seems to permeate every aspect of this alternate, turn-of-the-century vision of New York. Once in the Inquisitors, Sacha is apprenticed to one Maximillian Wolf, along with a fellow student, Lily Astral. They soon find themselves up against the e...more
Belaria of the Snowy Halls
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....more
Addison Children
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
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
The Library Lady
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?
Rachel Seigel
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.
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...more
Fun little alternative history in New York City ... but somehow I'm still disappointed that it wasn't the Inquisition I was expecting. (Cue Monty Python sketch.)
Just personally found it boring
IndyPL Kids Book Blog
Sacha lives in New York City in the early 1900s. His New York City is a little different than ours though, in Sacha’s New York City there’s magic, which would be cool except it’s illegal.

“Sacha had never quite understood why magic was illegal in America. He just knew that it was. And that his mother and practically every other housewife on Hester Street cheerfully ignored the law whenever disapproving husbands and fathers - not to mention the NYPD Inquisitors - were safely elsewhere.” page 5

In S...more
Shanshad Whelan
I think I'd rate this 3.5 if I could. The setting is something I haven't seen before, and it's really delightful to take an alternate history steampunk style trip through NYC. The characters are likable and the story itself is intriguing and kept me reading through until the end. It's really the pacing and the way information is thrown in that sometimes doesn't quite work at times.

I think at the heart of it, the author never really gives us a real look at what "magic" is in this world, what it c...more
Brandy Painter
Originally posted here.

The Inquisitor's Apprentice by Chris Moriarty took be by complete surprise. I was expecting to enjoy it and was patiently waiting for my library to order copies. Then on a visit to our local bookstore, I saw it and bought it on impulse. This is a good thing because I didn't enjoy this book, I LOVED it. I recognize it is not a book everyone will like, but it worked for me on every level. As a reader I was engrossed and it kept me thinking. As a mom it is definitely a book I...more
As posted on Outside of a Dog:

A good book and a good mystery are like a good magic trick. It's part skill and part misdirection. We, the readers, must think one thing in order for us to be fooled by the eventual ending. Chris Moriarty's newest book, The Inquisitor's Apprentice is a perfect magic trick, a mixture of good storytelling and sleight of hand.

Sacha Kessler has an unusual gift. He can see magic when it is performed. This makes him a valuable commodity, in a society where magic has been...more
New York, ein magischer Melting Pot! Lower East Side, Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts: Als Ermittler für magische Angelegenheiten bei der New Yorker Polizei zu arbeiten, ist eigentlich kein Job für einen Jungen. Aber als sich herausstellt, dass Sascha Kessler, Sohn jüdischer Einwanderer aus der ärmlichen Lower East Side, tatsächlich Magie sehen kann, verändert sich sein ganzes Leben. Sascha geht bei dem erfolgreichen Star-Ermittler Maximillian Wolf in die Lehre und gemeinsam jagen sie eine unheimlic...more
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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...
Spin State Spin Control Ghost Spin The Watcher in the Shadows (Inquisitor's Apprentice #2) Science-fiction 2007 : nouvelles, essai

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