Kaye's Reviews > The Inquisitor’s Apprentice

The Inquisitor’s Apprentice by Chris Moriarty
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's review
Jun 28, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: 2011-reads, genre-love-steampunk, arcs-netgalley

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.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Alex (new)

Alex Wayong Kaye, thanks for your review... it's definately assuring when someone who is unfamiliar with Jewish history & culture as well fantasy genres is willing to read (and enjoy!)a book such as 'The Inquisitor's Apprentice'.

I had a couple of comments that might help you understand some of the contexts and contents of the book.
The novel takes place in the Lower East Side, amongst 1rst & 2nd generation immigrants living in tennement buildings. This was quite different than living in Brooklyn during late 19th/early 20th century (be it in our reality or alternative reality). Brooklyn at that time was primarily farmlands, intersperced with majestic houses... with the exception of certain areas such as Brighton Beach. It was very different culturally. Later on, some Jewish Americans relocated to Brownsville, East New York (which is scary nowadays)& Crown Heights in Brooklyn as well as Forest Hills, etc. in Queens. Why is this important to the book? Well, the history of the Lower East Side is the heart of this fantasy novel.

Also, I wouldn't categorize this book as 'steampunk'. Some great examples of 'all ages steampunk' would be: Westfield's Leviathon series, Philip Reeve's Hungry City Chronicles (both of which I highly recommend, but imho, isn't appropriate for younger kids.

I do agree with you about some of the language could have been clearer. While one can guess what the words roughly mean w/in the context of the sentences, a dictionary for the words plus a reference area that would include a bibliography would enrichen the experiences of many readers. Even children who have a Hebrew School education may not understand all the language & history, as Yiddish & NYC late Victorian era Jewish history isn't the focus of Jewish education nowadays. I'm guessing that Chris & I are part of the same generation, as I'm very familiar w/the content.

message 2: by Alex (new)

Alex Wayong Here's some websites that can help one understand the book's historical context:
If you liked this book, here are some recommendations:
'How Mirka Got a Sword':
'The Yiddish Policemen's Union'
note: I have no personal connection to any of the links above. These recommendations are base on my research. Enjoy!

Kaye Alex wrote: "Here's some websites that can help one understand the book's historical context:
If you liked..."

Thanks for the comments, Alex! I am aware of the Jewish culture surrounding Brooklyn as I partially grew up there and still live close by. But the details are really interesting. And yes, I love the Leviathan series! It's been a while since I read this book now, so I'm not sure why I categorized it as steampunk.

Thanks again!

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