Monday, October 17, 2011

The Inquisitor's Apprentice

The Inquisitor's Apprentice
by Chris Moriarty
Harcourt, 2011. 343 pgs. Fantasy.

While Sacha Kessler is shopping with his Mom at Lassky & Daughters Kosher Baked Goods, he sees an aura around Mrs. Kessler's head. "How did you do that?" he asks and is almost immediately fingered by an NYPD Inquisitor. Inquisitor's ferret out illegal magic in this alternate history of turn-of-the-century New York and Sacha's ability to see witches gets him a job as an apprentice to the NYPD's chief Inquisitor, Maximillian Wolf. Not a line of work a nice young Jewish boy really wants to get into, but it's a job that will bring cash to his impoverished family so he agrees. Soon he and his fellow apprentice Lily Astral (one of the upper East Side, rich as Croesus Astrals) are racing to discover who is trying to kill Thomas Edison and keep his mechanical witch detector from ever seeing the light of day. Robber barons, Harry Houdini, the Elephant Hotel of Coney Island, and an extremely frightening dybbuk who looks a lot like . . . but no spoilers here . . . fill these pages with slightly off-kilter history, fantastical duels, Jewish mythology, and the rich ethnic stew of 19th century New York. A terrific story which begs for a sequel. One can only hope.

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