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 Menlo...er, 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 magic. Of course, this changes his life forever as he is quickly enlisted in the police department as the apprentice of the Head Inquistor, Wolf.
And so the adventure begins.
This is a story that definitely is geared towards a Jewish audience, but can also be enjoyed by younger readers (probably around the middle grades) that like a good adventure with a touch of mystery and magic and a possible monster running around causing havoc. It took me a while to get through, simply because I had to keep stopping and looking up unfamiliar words (not sure if they were Hebrew or Yiddish) and got a little confuzzled because of all the alternate history going on.
Sacha is an endearing protagonist, torn between his duty to his family and the gift (or curse, whichever way you might look at it) that is now an unerasable part of his life. Lily, the rich girl who could possibly become his friend if she wasn't so...rich, is at times overly inquisitive and sympathetic, and has the iron stomach of a man twice her age. I loved her at once.
I'm hoping this will turn out to be a two-book deal, seeing as the author left the end a bit open. Definitely a book for younger readers, though, so I won't push it towards the YA crowd.